Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


You need a breath of fresh air!

leadership Feb 23, 2021

“We are what we do consistently” is a common saying. In other words: our habits define our identity. And our habits are mainly based on our beliefs and thought patterns, which we have developed over years, often a long time ago. 

The same for businesses: all of them run based on the habits of their people, which are rooted in common beliefs. 

Here comes the twist: if you want to improve any business sustainably, there is no other way than changing the habits, which requires the change of beliefs and thought patterns. 

Now, a question to my advanced readers: is this change of habits easy or difficult? Yes, it’s difficult. This is why so many change initiatives fail or get stuck half way. Next question: what is the best (and sometimes the only) way to get people to change their beliefs and habits? Answer: new perspectives. 

How, then, can the leaders of organisations of any kind or size expect any sustainable performance increase if they...
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Top 10 ignored truths about success in leadership

leadership Feb 18, 2021
Here is my top 10 list of generally known findings and proven effects that are systematically disregarded time and again even by seasoned executives and business leaders:
  1. Yes, it's true: money is at best a short-term motivator for employees and needs to be continually reinforced like a drug. It is expensive and ineffective for improving performance.
  2. No one can be "motivated", only demotivated. People give their best when the environment makes it easy for them, not when they are forced to do so (even by money).
  3. All long-term successful companies have a clear and distinct mission (why do we do what we do?) that customers can easily understand. Why, then, do so many managers struggle with the "why" question?
  4. Clarity in vision and strategy for all employees are among the top characteristics of outstanding organizations. So why do we find this so rarely?
  5. Why do most managers lead without knowing where they are going? The vision question ("When do you want to be where and with what?")...
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What really matters in leadership right now

leadership Feb 11, 2021

Here's a tricky question in leadership, but one that is extremely important: How much of your time do you really spend on effective leadership and how much time on other topics?

In any case, I almost universally hear from my coaching clients that they don't have enough time for their leadership responsibilities. The day-to-day business takes priority most of the time. I call this condition "leadership treadmill" and unfortunately, I see it far too often.

And it's not just my perception. The burden increases not only because of spatial separation, but also because the environment is changing ever faster and we have to react ever more quickly.

Now, for the crucial question: how do you notice that you are stuck on the treadmill?

Here are some points, any one of which is already a strong indicator that you should change something:
  1. You constantly have too many balls in the air. There is hardly any time to prioritize wisely. Almost everything is urgent and many things are important.
  2. Many...
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The lasting effects of Covid19

leadership Feb 04, 2021

I don't like to hear it anymore: Hardly any topic is as present in leadership as the question of what will change as a result of Corona and what will remain the same.

And yet, the topic is extremely relevant for many, which is also reflected in the question I am repeatedly asked. For example, just the other day by the author of an article for a business magazine, for which he interviewed several experts, including myself (you can request the article in German from me here).

So: how do the pandemic and its associated consequences affect our corporate culture and leadership? What are the opportunities and what are the risks? How can we even benefit as a company in the area of leadership?

Here are three important answers from my perspective:
  1. The pandemic is an amplifier. The new rules (home office, etc.) make deficits in communication, trust, clarity and so on much more visible. What could previously be whitewashed by physical presence now becomes obvious.
  2. Clarity becomes even more...
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Why are you not asking?

leadership mindset Feb 02, 2021
When was the last time you asked a meaningful question?

Seriously, we all tend to get into our daily routines and forget to ask questions. Instead, we try to “get things done” or find solutions to problems. 

I think it was Einstein who said “If I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes on finding the right question to ask, and 5 minutes to find the answer to this question.” 

Studies show that children ask over ten times more questions than adults do.Why is this the case? Subconsciously, to grow. Asking questions means learning, means growing, means getting to new levels. In other words, when we stop asking questions, we stop growing. 

Your progress and success in life (and in your business) are directly proportional to the number and quality of questions you ask. 

Here is my suggestion: By today, ask more questions to yourself, your colleagues, your team members. Asking questions differs from questioning things or...

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The inconvenient truth about productivity

productivity Jan 28, 2021

Every person and every team that wants to achieve more than in the past can't avoid it: they have to work on productivity.

Because if you produce the same quantity and quality of results as before, you will hardly be able to increase your success. This sounds totally obvious, but is often completely neglected. 

For some, it is also almost indecent to talk too heavily about productivity: "Aren't we already maximally productive?" is often the unspoken question. Or: "We first have to improve the process chain or this or that. Otherwise, I can't do anything about it!"

All excuses! Because productivity starts in your own mind. Always! We all have enormous productivity potential. And it's usually not so much in how we work, but rather in what we work on. At the end of the day, 90% of productivity is hidden in our focus on what's really important.

Here are three helpful questions (that hardly anyone asks) you can use to catapult yourself and your team to significantly higher...
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How Descartes can help you

leadership Jan 21, 2021

The other day I read an interesting essay in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung about the philosopher René Descartes and the failing ex-president Donald Trump. The essence is that, according to Descartes, we can all form infinite opinions about anything and sometimes take these opinions for the truth, i.e. for facts. 

For some people - like Donald Trump - this correspondence between opinion and facts is 100 percent: from his point of view, there can be no truth other than his own opinion. And since, according to Descartes, the capacity to form opinions is unlimited, we can also create "truths" at will (such as having won the election). I think this explains very elegantly many of his behaviors that are strange to others.

However, this is not about the ex-president, but about parallels to our leadership. For each of us, too, the line between belief and truth blurs at times. Recognizing this can help you deal elegantly with some typical leadership challenges.

Here are...
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Do you use your acceleration lane?

leadership strategy Jan 14, 2021

Do you also get upset about drivers who do not accelerate on the acceleration lane of the highway? It happens from time to time and it is irritating and even dangerous.

Well, the same behavior is exhibited by many leaders when it comes to acceleration in business. By this I mean, of course, picking up full speed at the beginning of the year, but also accelerating strongly when implementing any strategies, launching initiatives, personal development and so on.

From my experience, generating high momentum quickly is one of the most important success factors in life as well as in business.

As success guru Tony Robbins so beautifully puts it, "Make a clear decision, establish the powerful why, and then take MASSIVE action immediately!"

Here are three key barriers that often keep us from accelerating:
  1. Contentment. After all, I keep emphasizing that high satisfaction is not a good condition for outstanding success. Contentment makes you sluggish. Everyone knows this about themselves....
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How to gain momentum quickly in 2021

leadership strategy Jan 14, 2021

The beginning of a new year is an artificially defined milestone we love to take as a trigger for a new start. Energy flows where the focus goes, and in this sense, it is good to have a focus on making this New Year a successful one. 

However, much of the energy and many of our hopes and plans of the early days of the year quickly vanish.

The root cause is that success comes from repetition, perseverance and courage, not from a fierce, yet short fire. 

So the question is: what can we do to kickstart the New Year in a way that makes it a lasting success, in your business and for yourself? Here are 3 answers: 
  1. Define the ONE big goal you MUST achieve within 12 months, both for business and your private life. Be ambitious and specific. Maybe you want to triple your revenue. Or sell your company. Or get married (again). Or relocate to the country of your dreams. Write these goals down.
  2. Define three areas you need to change substantially to achieve this big goal. If you...
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Is your leadership like a kindergarten?

leadership Jan 07, 2021

Recently, I had the pleasure to watch the presentation of a human resources expert. It was about how to motivate employees - even with remote working and other difficulties.

The main part of the presentation was about how to help employees stay motivated and enjoy their work. The message between the lines was this: "People are lost when they work alone at home. So, we have to help them."

What bothers me about this? Well, quite simply: It goes in the completely wrong direction. Instead of strengthening personal responsibility and trusting team members to help themselves completely, well-intentioned advice is given. Instead of asking strong questions, instructions are given.

Unfortunately, I see this again and again from HR people, as well as from line managers: Instead of strengthening people in their independence, they are told what to do.

Do you think that sometimes there is no other way? Well, here are three ideas for giving your team more personal responsibility:
  1. Remove rules....
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