Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


You have to get out!

leadership strategy Oct 08, 2020

You may know the situation when parents encourage their children to go outside and play instead of always sitting at home. Why do they do that? Sure, because they want their children to gain experience and learn something outside.

Because we know that life experience never comes from studying indoors, but from getting your hands dirty.

When I'm working on strategy with my clients, I sometimes feel like the daddy who says, "You have to get out there to gain experience and test your ideas!"

What do I mean by that? For most people, the strategy process encounters a big bump when it comes to the transition from strategy creation to implementation. Often, they have developed great new value propositions and new business models, or have come up with new structures and requirements for the workforce or other innovations.

And what happens next? Many are now trying to perfect these results with more people. Other stakeholders are involved in the discussion of business models or HR managers...

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Yes, this is your responsibility!

leadership mindset Oct 08, 2020

If your environment is not the way you’d like it to be, whose responsibility is this? If your team is not acting the way you’d like it to act, who is responsible for this? If any of your relationships – professionally or privately – are not the way you want them to be, who holds the responsibility? 

You guessed the answer: it is always YOU. Nobody else! And if you think now “well, I can’t control and influence everything!” then you are right. But you can always control your perception of the reality. For example, if you think your work environment sucks, there are two perspectives: your actual work environment and your perception. You can often change your work environment, and you can ALWAYS change your perception. 

You’ll almost always find people on this planet who would appreciate what you refuse. The difference is perception, the mirroring with our own psychological blueprint. 

Let’s make it...

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The difference between existing, playing, and winning

culture leadership Oct 06, 2020

A while ago, I attended the Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel. That year the motto was “Play”. The guiding thought is that we could all be more innovative if we played more and allowed for more playfulness. 

Too many teams and entire organisations are simply existing than playing.

What do I mean by this? Well, if the guiding idea of any member in an organisation is to get through the workday and the workweek, then we are merely existing. This is about surviving the workday in order to thrive in private life (if at all). 

Too many organisations are on this “existence level”: as a leader, just do enough so that people stay and do their work.

The “play” state is already significant progress: people like what they do and they like to see it as a “game”, in the most positive sense. People are cheerful and truly support each other. These organisations are not only more productive than the “existing” ones, but also...

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A tale of two companies

culture leadership Oct 02, 2020

Here is a short business story with an important moral: two companies are successfully positioned in the market, operate in a similar segment and have moderately growing sales. Everything else is also very similar.

In good times, business runs very smoothly. But now, the environment is more difficult (maybe due to a pandemic, maybe due to a downturn, maybe due to changing customer demands). And here comes the difference…

In leadership meetings in company A,  it is always stressed that the company is very well positioned and that it has enough experience to cope with the whole situation. In Company B, on the other hand, more people who have learned to think differently have their say: they develop the firm conviction that this is the opportunity to learn massively, to take on full responsibility and to use the difficult time to their advantage. 

So, they study books and other material that will help each individual to progress. They devour biographies of successful...

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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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