Ms. Steinhaus, you are a police officer and a referee. One might get the impression that you like making people follow rules.
No, I believe I have a strong sense of justice.
Then what were you doing with the police?
(laughs) I’ve been dealing with the values that carry me through life so intensively that I have developed a great deal of clarity. Justice is important to me, especially in regards to others.
Would you say that being in the police is more of a commitment than a job?
Yes, absolutely. There is a difference between being right and having a right, you quickly learn this in the police. How you deal with this difference is a question of attitude. I have to be clear with myself as to what is important to me. In addition, I am perceived as a role model, I am highly recognizable and my behaviors are often observed.
The participants of the workshop “I DO IT MY WAY” are mostly in leadership positions and have a high recognition value.
That’s rather positive. As a woman in a leadership position, you may be communicative and you may be emphatic, but you cannot be nice. That’s the only thing you cannot allow yourself. You have to be consistent and straightforward. As a woman, you must sometimes be hard, which will only heighten your profile.
What is the difference between being polite and being nice?
To me, being polite means to be empathic and communicative. Being nice means letting things go, by which I must later measure myself in other situations, which is often misunderstood as friendliness.
Does being nice also mean being able to obtain favors as well as being liked?
As a leader, I had to say goodbye to being liked and even to being loved. That is not my task.
Does this mean that one intervenes even with little things; that one cannot put up with anything?
It means being able to draw boundaries.
Which in turn draws quick criticism, which is silly.
I know that too, but I use my own threshold, which I allows me to orient myself. I cannot deviate from this threshold, not today nor tomorrow.
In turn, this requires constant decision-making. Decisions can be wrong too.
As a referee on the pitch, I am always making decisions. Sometimes, I don’t really know whether I made the right decision; you only know afterwards. I have learned that a wrong decision can sometimes be accepted. It is important to create the necessary conditions to make the best possible decision. In a leadership position, it’s the same: I have to make a decision and don’t always have enough information or enough time to make that decision. Wrong decisions are sometimes acceptable, that’s part of it. Not taking a decision, however, in not an option. Employees want guidelines. You too would be irritated facing someone who won’t make a decision, but that’s also a decision...
How do you see the difference woman – man on the field?
As a woman, I get both extremes in communications. On the one hand, the players are polite and are more careful in their choice of words than with my male colleagues. On the other hand, things quickly move to the opposite extreme when the mood shifts and things such as “a women belongs in the kitchen” start coming out.
Is there a motto that gets you through life?
“Take a size bigger—you’re growing into it!” Be brave; just try things. In workshops with other referees, there is “the best mistake”, where we talk about the biggest mistakes. It is very helpful to be able to laugh about your own mistakes; to be able to look kindly towards your own weaknesses.
Marie Lang, world champion kickboxer, puts it similarly: mistakes are important, but they should be made in training so that they can be avoided in competition.
Yes, exactly. I’d rather make mistakes in the smaller leagues, but definitely not in the national league.
Thank you for the interview.
How to define a master plan: The topic of our 2018 N-Conference Zurich, with Santiago Calatrava, Joschka Fischer, and others.
Schranner AG – Schranner Negotiation Institute
Interview with Bibiana Steinhaus – 2018