Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


What an amazing change!

leadership Jul 16, 2020

Let me be honest: If I had predicted a year ago that people from the USA would no longer be allowed to enter the EU, that we would only be allowed on trains with masks on or that it is clear that no one knows where we will stand economically at the end of the year, would you have believed me?

Well, now we're in the middle of it - and you're probably feeling the same way as me: Somehow, things are progressing nevertheless - in some cases, not even badly. And what was unimaginable yesterday is now the new normal.

And this is exactly the reason why we, as a human species, despite very unfavorable physical conditions, have made it this far (for better or worse): We are collectively and consciously extremely adaptable.

Here comes the point for you as a leader or CEO: We are good at adapting to constraints, but we are bad at anticipating change. That's the problem with any culture change: If people don't FEEL the absolute necessity, they won't change anything.

Here are three areas in...
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The success of small steps

leadership productivity Jul 14, 2020

I’m sure you know the answer to the old question “How do you eat an elephant?”. Here it is: “One bite at a time!” 

As simple as this sounds, very few people – and in particular business leaders – get the reverse meaning in this answer:

By taking small steps in the right direction, you will ultimately achieve big results – no matter your goals. 

Let me give you some examples: If you learn a new sales technique every day, you will ultimately become better at sales. If you do a workout once week, you will become healthier. 

This sounds easy, right? Why, then, are so few people applying this method of small step improvements? The reason is three common traps: 

  1. Slow progress initially. Yes, it’s true, after the first few steps, you will hardly see any progress. It’s tough for everybody to stay on course without clear, positive feedback in terms of results.
  2. Out of the comfort zone. Many activities for...
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Full responsibility!

leadership Jul 09, 2020

No, it's really not easy. And occasionally unfair. And sometimes most of us feel that we'd rather not do it.

What am I talking about? Maybe you guessed: taking responsibility.

If I had to name one single lever that makes the biggest difference between sustainable success and mediocrity, it would be precisely this: the best people take full responsibility, even for what they cannot do anything about, while some wait or blame others - or both.

Here is the point: We can only act fully responsibly if we first take full ownership for the situation - whether we can do anything about it or not.

In my experience, there are 3 levels of responsibility-culture in companies of all kinds. Your success is largely determined by which level you are at. So, you better know where you stand. 

Here are the 3 levels of responsibility:

Level 1: Inner denial. Here, we even have problems with people coming to meetings on time and prepared and keeping promises. This is the lowest level, because...

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Do they understand you?

leadership Jul 03, 2020

Many leaders have a hard time getting their people to engage and act. The key is an element in your communication which I explain in the video and which is crucial for your impact on others.

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Does Your Business Suffer From the Department Store Effect?

leadership strategy Jul 02, 2020

Note: The following article has nothing to do with department stores, but very much with the future of your business, regardless of the industry.

The other day, I stumbled across a nice statistic that clearly shows how the retail market has changed in recent years: fewer and fewer people go to department stores anymore.

This is nothing new. We have known about this trend for years. But here is my point: how many department stores have managed to profitably implement their mission (creating shopping experiences) in other ways? You know the answer: none or hardly any.

The astonishing thing is that every business school and dozens of manager books teach that we have to constantly question our business model in order to remain successful tomorrow. What drove big money into the company’s pockets yesterday may be irrelevant tomorrow. So why don’t the management teams of many companies put this simple insight into practice?

Here are three reasons for sticking with old...
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A psychology crash course for managers

leadership Jun 30, 2020

One key differentiator between extremely successful managers and average ones is their knowledge and practice of basic psychological concepts.

The point is this: you don’t need a comprehensive study in psychology to be ahead of 90 percent of people. 

The benefits for you as a leader are more engaged people, higher productivity, faster change, more control, and –yes– more joy and happiness. 

Here are the three ideas I have found most useful for going from average to outstanding success: 
  1. Success is less about WHAT we achieve, but WHO we become. This is powerful because it shifts the perspective from the “external” thing we want to get to our “internal” side, our personality. First, we become a person of success, then we attract success. Never the other way round!
  2. Don’t wish it were easier, but wish you were better. This statement addresses the issue that too many people – including leaders – see the...
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Strategy: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

leadership strategy Jun 25, 2020

For many companies, things have changed with COVID-19 and the lockdown. It is only logical to look at whether the strategy still fits and where adjustments are needed, right? Wrong!

If you had a robust strategy, then very little will need to change. But if your strategy was on thin ice, then it is more than appropriate to rework the strategy anyway. The past few weeks have been just the stumbling block that provided the necessary impetus.

Even if you think that you have a strong and robust strategy, I still see three issues that receive far too little attention when it comes to successfully shaping the future. It would be best for your company or your division to look at them immediately. Time is pressing!

Here are the three decisive and mostly underexposed questions for strong strategies:
  1. Who do we want to become? This question is hardly ever asked seriously, but it is at the beginning of everything. How can we combine our strengths and strive together to reach outstanding goals...
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The laws of the success universe

leadership mindset Jun 25, 2020

It’s an interesting thought: All of your failures and your reasons you don’t unleash your true potential come from ignorance of universal success laws. Sounds weird? Let me explain it with an analogy: 

You are consistently exposed to the law of gravity. The universe doesn’t care if you like it, if you agree to it, or if you ignore it. It simply works. When you let your smartphone slip through your fingers, it will inevitably fall. No protests help change this reality. 

Well, also for any success – and for happiness – there are universal laws at play. Their violation leads to mediocre results or even to massive failure. And that’s what happens to almost all businesses, teams, and people: They wonder why they are stressed and don’t achieve more (like others do). They take action here and there. However, if they don’t act more consistently to the universal laws, they will always remain below their potential. 

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The power of consistent action

leadership productivity Jun 23, 2020

Consistent steps in the right direction almost always outperform the big moves once in a while. Intellectually, most people know this simple truth. What most people and businesses fail is acting accordingly. 

The key reason is that it can become boring and even demotivating to constantly work in small steps towards a distant goal. And so most people give up (often only in their mind) before they even come close to success.

That’s why progress becomes slow, teams fail, and strategies never get truly executed. 

Here is the good news: This can be changed! You (and your team) can become dramatically more successful, reduce negative stress, generate more “free” time, and achieve substantially bigger goals by applying a simple yet extremely powerful system for 100 days. The science behind is that we are talking about habit changes. And we change habits by practicing new habits over a certain period. 

You need to practice new ways of thinking and...
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How to get through uncertain times

leadership Jun 21, 2020

After dinner with the Chairman of an international organisation (one of my clients) and his leadership team, an interesting question came up: How can we give people certainty in uncertain times? 

The answer is rather simple, yet unexpected for many. However, let me first build some foundations: 

  1. Uncertain times are a perception. First, I’ve been on this planet long enough to confirm there has hardly ever been a period of more than a couple of months that was not uncertain. And secondly, uncertainty depends on your mindset: what for one is completely safe, is for the other shaking ground.
  2. We need uncertainty. Yes, right, uncertainty causes variety, which is a fundamental human drive. This is why we create uncertainty subconsciously when things get too smooth. When everything is just fine. Not for long: Soon, we will add variety because our subconscious mind longs for it.
  3. Uncertainty is often a reflection of fear projected into the future. Lots of...
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