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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


Your personal lockdown

mindset Dec 17, 2020

For most people, this is the beginning of a somewhat quieter time - various companies are closing their doors, and, in this respect, many people are going into their own personal lockdown. This may also be something positive.

In this special year, it's a good time for a little reflection; for example, how your team and you have managed to deal with the out of the ordinary situation.

After all, we all have found ourselves in a situation that no one could have foreseen a year ago. And I think that, given these circumstances and the unpredictability, we have done very well so far (I'm not making a judgment here about the health and fatal consequences of the virus).

Here are three ideas how you, as a leader, can make the most of the year-end slowdown:
  1. Gratitude. It is extremely important for our well-being and for directing our thoughts to feel gratitude. If you are grateful, you cannot feel fear or aggression in that moment. So…what are you really grateful for? Few do this...
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Time for more growth

leadership strategy Dec 10, 2020

When does the decline of a company begin? When the focus shifts from opportunities to problems. From attack to defense. From growth to maintaining the status quo.

That's why my latest publication in the Swiss magazine Organizer revolves around the necessary leap in growth. You can request the PDF of the article here (only in German).

It has always been true that those with more success and more influence have a distinct growth mindset and act accordingly. It is a well-known law of nature that what does not grow dies.

However, a good business with loyal customers does not simply disappear from the market. It can even work very profitably for a long time. But my point is this: this strategy is highly risky and is becoming even more so in today's world. If you play the hold game, you are exposed to greater pressure in every respect, from the sales market to the labor market.

And even more important: with low growth, you miss out on huge opportunities.

The good news is that almost...

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Do you want to fit in or stand out?

leadership Dec 10, 2020

Many of us carry a conflict within us; for example, we want to do something exceptional, something great. We all are proud of achievements we worked hard on.

However, many of us fear standing out, being seen as exceptional, as great achievers, as somebody others look up to. 

I repeatedly find it remarkable when I ask the question to workshop participants when crafting a business strategy: “What would you be proud of achieving?” Many argue there would be no reason to be proud of at work. We are “just doing our job” or “others are even better than we” are answers I often hear. 

Sure, I know what speaks to me in these moments is fear. The fear to be exceptional, to be outstanding, to shine in the light. 

Here comes the twist: This fear to be outstanding is a much bigger obstacle to success than the fear of failure. So, it’s worth addressing this issue when you, your team, and your business want to become more successful. 


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How companies waste money

Recently, I accidentally came across the following conversation on one of the social media sites of the travel company A customer credibly complains that she will not be reimbursed – of about $100 - for a cancelled overnight stay. The company's answers revolve solely around formal justifications as to why the amount cannot be refunded.

Important background: In the last years, the customer booked trips of over $10'000 with the company.

I find such cases interesting, because they dramatically show the wrong priorities of the company: instead of systematically increasing the value of a customer and inspiring new bookings, they insist on process conformity. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

And before you say, "something like this could not happen with us," I suggest you look twice. You'd probably be surprised how much business potential with customers is also falling through the cracks at your company.

Here are three typical approaches to plugging...
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What’s on your first page?

leadership Dec 01, 2020

Recently, marketing guru, Seth Godin, wrote: “There will always be first page news because there’ll always be a first page.” What he meant is that news publishing houses determine which news article should be on the first page for only one reason: to attract readers.

People do not get fearful or angry because of the news themselves, but because of what is shown on the first page. 

There is a positive side to this topic in that the first page means focus. You can change the focus of people by the headlines you show on your first page. Sure, you probably do not publish a newspaper, but you have a virtual first page of your business or your team. 

The issue is this: if you as a leader do not decide what should be on the first page, everybody will put their own stuff on it.

With the effect that everybody has a different focus. And from what I see, this lacking alignment of focus is one of the key issues for virtually all businesses and teams: they don’t...

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What is your next level?

leadership Nov 26, 2020

Recently, another article of mine -  "Are you asking the right questions?" - was published in the Swiss business magazine Handelszeitung. It is about the right focus in challenging situations. You can request it from me here as a PDF file (in German).

In my work as a coach and consultant, I like to talk about reaching "the next level." Some people wonder exactly what I mean by that.

Well, we are all at certain stages of development. When you reflect on your life, it becomes very clear: as a child you thought and behaved differently than as an adolescent. And then again as a young adult. And so on. 

Here comes the point: These developmental levels determine, to a large extent, what we can achieve in each case. In order to have significantly more success (however you define it), we have to leave one level and climb onto another. 

The good news is that you can always decide that for yourself. But: It is usually not easy at all. Because we inevitably leave our comfort...

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Your problem with feelings

leadership Nov 19, 2020

"People will forget what you say and will forget what you do... but they will never forget how you made them feel" is a quite well-known quote from Maya Angelou, a US-American author, professor and civil rights activist.

This is always relevant when you want to get others to act or to influence them. And that is one of your main tasks as a leader.

You can talk as much as you want, even do things however, the influence on others will always be limited compared to when you trigger certain feelings in them.

An example: If others feel safe with you to say what they think and dare to try something new without the fear of sarcastic comments, they will do so. When people feel a new beginning with the prospect of new fascinating experiences, they will go the extra mile.

The biggest problem is often that people are afraid that their feelings may be hurt, that the security was only apparent, that the vision was not meant seriously. In other words: that their feelings will be hurt and they...

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What you can learn from the US election

Now that the reality show from the USA has come to a temporary end (with a satisfactory outcome in my view), it is interesting to see what we can learn from it for our leadership.

And by that I don't mean the actual content of the discussion (which had been pushed into the background anyway), but the circumstances that made the course of events so exciting for many. After all, we can all learn a lot from this for our communication, especially as leaders.

Because no matter whether you found the whole theater necessary or annoying, there is hardly anyone who didn't care. And therefore, the question ‘what is so fascinating about it?’ arises.

Here comes the point: To achieve any changes in your company or team, you depend on the commitment of your people.

So, what can we learn from the American election campaign?
  1. Clarity of purpose. In the American presidential campaign, the goal is very clear: to get the majority of the electorate as the sum of the individual states. It is...
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What if…?

mindset Nov 12, 2020

What if you started each morning by being grateful for what you have and where you are (no matter where you actually are)? 

What if each day you achieve something substantial? 

What if each day you make at least 3 people smile? 

What if each morning you breathe deeply, drink water, and increase your physical energy level? 

What if each evening, you realise what great things you have achieved today? 

What if each hour, you make progress in at least something? 

What if each week, you make progress towards your grant vision in life? 

What if you realise that you have far more capability than you actually utilise? 

What if most people would be happy to have all the chances that you have in life? 

What if you can make a difference in people’s lives – and you actually do! 

Take charge of your life, your career, your business. Play out fully. Each day. Each minute.

Do you like this post? If so, please forward it to a colleague...

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Who are you?

culture leadership Nov 05, 2020

Let me ask you a profound question, the answer of which might shape your future:

Who are you? And: who is your business or your team? 

What do I mean by this? Well, from psychology comes the insight that our success in life is mostly defined by the self-image we have. For example, if you deeply believe you are a person who is on the planet to do good for people, you will build your life around this identity. If you believe you are a victim of outside circumstances, you also will create a life of reaction and victimhood. 

The key is that most are never truly aware of their identity.

Instead, they just wonder why their life ends up in a certain way. How powerful is it then if you become fully aware of your self-image and become able to change it consciously? It is not always an easy process (and most often requires a coach), but it is possible – and extremely powerful. 

Now let’s transfer this insight to the business world. Specifically, organizations also...

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