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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


What people really want

culture leadership Oct 01, 2020

Remarkably, whenever and wherever I make the workshop exercise to let people describe the ideal future of the company they are working for, I get statements such as innovative, dynamic, cool, leading, etc. When I ask how they would describe the current state of their organization, phrases come up such as reliable, high quality, secure, and predictable. 

Again, these results are more or less consistent over all businesses I assess:

Many people say they work in a safe, yet “boring” environment. What they dream of instead looks different: dynamic, fresh, and cool. 

And now comes the bummer: even if the leadership team sees this articulated desire of their people, there is hardly any action after these workshops (unless I stay as a business coach and help drive the change). 

Why is this? Why do so many smart leaders not create an organization in which people would engage at their full potential?

The key reason is uncertainty about the “how”. How to...

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How courageous are you?

culture leadership Sep 24, 2020

Winston Churchill once said, "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities...because it is the quality which guarantees all others."

But the fact is, the most important qualities – and certainly not courage - are not necessarily the most widespread. 

Do you know what I miss most in the leadership teams of many companies? The courage to think big, to tackle the most ambitious goals, to push through important decisions and to set an example of courageous leadership.

There is a huge difference between people who stay in their comfort zone and those who think and act on a much larger scale. Truly great things only ever come about when the distance between a vision and the current state of affairs is as great as possible.

This requires courage. After all, a growth of 3% per year feels more secure than if we wanted to double our business in 3 years. The latter will cause resistance, fears, complaints, but also the chance for real change - for something truly...

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Your key responsibility as a leader

leadership Sep 22, 2020

What is your key responsibility as a leader? To have followers? Wrong! The correct answer: as a leader, you are supposed to create other leaders. Great leaders are always great because they create a lot of other leaders. 

This alone is an epiphany for many business leaders. However, here comes the next question:

What makes people grow into leaders? The answer: the mindset to constantly learn and develop themselves! 

I am constantly amazed that when I ask the question of how many people read at least one personal development book every three months, less than 10 percent raise their hand. Many do not even read one book per year. By the way, this includes many sales people as well, an area in which I recommend constant learning the most. 

Today, I have three short suggestions for raising the bar for leadership excellence in your organisation: 
  1. Create a personal growth plan for yourself: Commit to reading at least one book per month, plus video and audio courses.
  2. ...
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Sprinting or jogging?

leadership mindset Sep 18, 2020

I am sometimes asked about my online program, 100-Day Success Challenge: In business and personal life, shouldn't we be marathon runners rather than sprinters? And shouldn't we focus on the long term instead of just 100 days?

Good questions! My answer is quite simple: We need both.

Whoever only sprints runs the risk of exhausting him/herself too quickly. On the other hand, if you always focus on the "long distance," you often start too slowly and do not build up enough momentum.

It is an old adage: For big plans and goals, if the first actions are not started within 72 hours, usually they just remain plans and goals. We need momentum - and as quickly as possible!

(And because I see a weakness with many people, I have created the above-mentioned program.) 

Here are 3 items for which a sprint is always worthwhile, or even extremely important. I suggest that you take a look at them with your team:
  1. Training of success habits. We cannot build habits if we only work at them with...
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People love to change!

leadership Sep 18, 2020

One of the great myths about change is that people resist it. This is often used by senior executives as an excuse for why strategies don’t get implemented, productivity doesn’t increase as expected, or the new sales approach doesn’t work. 

The problem is that this myth is… just a myth. People love change! Otherwise nobody would have children, move into a new house or go on vacation. But this is correct in one aspect, as there is some change that people resist: change that is imposed on them by others or by circumstances. 

People only love change that they believe in and that they truly want. People hate all change that comes from outside. It’s as simple as that! 

The problem: in an organization, we cannot wait until every person decides to “want” the change. So, what can you do as a leader (and any person with influence) to “make” people change? 

Here are three decisive steps (of which #2 is almost...
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Casualness leads to casualties

leadership mindset Sep 15, 2020

One of the behaviors I see too often in organizations is casualness. Perhaps you know the old saying: “Casualness leads to casualties.”

The performance of many businesses could improve dramatically if more people took a more serious approach to their jobs.

I think that too many people, particularly in management positions, try simply to “get through the day”.

This has nothing to do with taking time for recreation or being “easy-going”. But it has everything to do with responsibility for your own success and for the people around you. I believe we are here on earth to make this a better place, so let’s get serious about our mission. Each of us can do more and can become more effective.

Here are three ideas to get more results without investing much – except some discipline and a winning mindset:
  1. Follow up on opportunities! I find it amazing how many opportunities in life and business show up, but pass by without anybody paying...
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Is this normal now?

leadership Sep 10, 2020

Nowadays, you hear again and again about the "new normal;" i.e. the new state with COVID-19, which is now no longer unusual, but a simple reality.

Associated with it, then, are all kinds of consequences - in life and business.

However, a "new normal" does not make sense: we all live, at any time, in a "normal" that is now and here. How we live today was, in many respects, unimaginable only a few decades ago. The way we live now is not at all normal in other parts of the world.

Here is my point: the most successful people and companies see opportunities and risks in every "normal," which they utilize optimally. For the mediocre majority, however, there are good and bad times on which they depend.

As a result, while mediocre companies look for ways to overcome the crisis, the most successful ones see it as normal and use their opportunities as in any other time. 

The effects of this difference in mindset are enormous. Here are a few examples:
  1. Contraction. While mediocre...
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Why people love Donald Trump

Here is the secret why so many people (at least in America) love Donald Trump - and it's not because of his politics.

Instead, it has to do with how we feel better when someone with authority gives us permission to behave in a way that we know is wrong.

It's like science telling us that fatty food and lots of red meat are healthy; finally, with a good feeling, we can feast properly again.

That's exactly what Donald Trump does: he exemplifies behavior that most people cannot allow in their daily lives if they want to keep their family or their jobs.

It's the same as with action heroes - they are allowed to wreck whole streets and take others out if they get in the way. "Oh, if only I could do that, too," many viewers think unconsciously (and of course wouldn't admit).

To finally live a more carefree life with fewer constraints, people who are constantly wrangling with their "misbehaviours" (actually I want to, but I'm not allowed to) can buy themselves a mental free ticket by voting...

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Final sprint!

leadership productivity Sep 02, 2020

You and your team are probably back from summer vacation, and you are getting up to full speed again, right? Just to remind you: September has started, and you have less than 4 months until the end of the year. You want to reach your goals (or have exceeded your previous year results), right? 

The problem is that many people, teams, and whole companies need far too long to get back on track.

And before they notice it, September and the third quarter are almost over. The same applies to the reaction after setbacks: speed counts! 

This is not an exaggeration: the problem of many people and teams is that they have far too long “switching times” between different states. The most successful people and organizations are extremely fast when pursuing new goals and responding to changes. 

Here are three techniques of “over-achievers” that you can apply today: 
  1. Invite your team (or even the entire company, physically or via video streaming) and...
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The 3 most ignored causes of failure

leadership Aug 27, 2020
I think there are basically three kinds of leaders. Please check which category you feel you belong to: 
  1. Those who just “do what they do”, often with good results. They are successful leaders because they continue to do what has worked and stopped doing what didn’t.
  2. Those who excel at a few leadership skills, but mess up the rest. Don’t get me wrong: they can be successful leaders, too, just often at the cost of “collateral damages” such as low commitment of their teams.
  3. Those who constantly seek to proactively improve the leadership skills they are lacking the most. These leaders are constant learners, always looking for ways to become more effective.

As with all categories, there are overlaps; however, from my perspective, categories 1 and 2 are most common, whereas number 3 is the least present in companies of all sizes. The most stated reasons are complacency (“you see I am successful!”) and “lack of time” for...

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