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Volkmar VΓΆlzke'sΒ BLOG


πŸ† The Secret For Top Success

Yes, I admit it: this is a somewhat lurid headline. But for many, what's about to come is apparently quite a big mystery, judging by how rarely the questions listed later are asked.

What is it all about? Well, all of our success - and that of companies as well - is strongly limited by the biggest limiting factor in any given case.

You may know this as the "theory of constraints”. And in fact, this concept is quite prevalent in manufacturing: If you want to increase output profitably, you have to identify and eliminate the biggest bottleneck. Unfortunately, this is often not so easy to spot.

The same is true in principle for any success and of course also in leadership. But here the bottlenecks are often even more difficult to identify than in production.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I unfortunately see very few leaders who take care of the bottlenecks in order to massively increase the success of their team. If anything, it happens intuitively instead of systematically.


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πŸ‘ The Sparkling-Eye Indicator For Team Success

Some time ago, I was at a business award ceremony, at which the best family businesses were rewarded based on several strict criteria. What I found more interesting than the award ceremony itself (lots of semi-interesting speeches), was the conversations before and after the official program. 

Here is why: A pattern emerges at successful businesses compared to the average, and this pattern is not around great products and processes (both are a must-have to compete at all). They are also not around the best talent or the greatest locations.

No, the most significant difference is (drumroll …) the sparkling in the eyes of the owners, the CEO and every other member of the organization. 

This sparkling in the eyes is not something of a “soft factor” or some “nice-to-have” trait when everything else is great. No, exactly the opposite: This sparkling is the root cause of all greatness in any business. It reflects pride, care, passion,...

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πŸŽ‰ Why You Should Celebrate More

Recently, Switzerland celebrated the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291. It's the most important holiday here with all sorts of political speeches, celebrations, bonfires in high places and, of course, fireworks.

It reminds me how important it is to pause sometimes to simply celebrate.

The date is secondary, after all. The only important thing is to agree on a specific point in time and look back together on what has been achieved and appreciate what is to come.

In most companies, I observe how reluctant people are to simply celebrate - even for small causes.

In a winning team culture, expressing joy together is a very important part - and not by command, but because it is felt that way.

So here's my appeal: celebrate more often! Below are three reasons why it's so important (in case you didn't think you needed it until now):

  1. Awareness of progress.

    Most managers mercilessly overestimate how aware people are of achievements and progress. Most are so deeply involved in...

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πŸ™Œ Yes, Yes, Yes!

Some weeks ago, I was writing about the areas in which you need to say “no” to yourself in order to achieve higher success levels (“No, no, no”, click here). This week, I want to turn the viewpoint around and look at a few things that you probably do not say “yes” to often enough. 

The point is this: most people live a life and run businesses and teams below their possibilities. And one key reason is that they hold themselves back when it comes to stating a clear “Yes”. 

The counterintuitive root cause is often our fear of success. Yes: Fear of success! Subconsciously, we are quite often afraid of the consequences should we actually succeed. We fear the new lifestyle out of our comfort zone, the exposure to the public, maybe the flood of customers, and even the new kinds of people we will meet after our great success. 

The consequences of this fear-based hesitation for your team and often the entire organization are...

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🀷 Why We Make Things More Complicated Than They Are

After all, there are various things that stand in our way on the path to greater success and fulfillment. One of them is the tendency to make things more complicated than they are.

Now, don't tell me that this doesn't affect you. I bet that if I were to observe you, we would identify various things that you are making more complicated than they need to be.

To get to the root of the matter, I share below:

  • three main causes,
  • then the main effects (i.e., how you recognize unnecessary complicatedness), and
  • three steps you should take to make the complicated simple.

Let's get started with the three most important reasons:

  • Feeling of power. Of course, when things are complicated, not everyone can understand them. But if you're the one who has some perspective, it gives you a sense of power. Entire professions are riddled with complicated language, partly for this very reason (lawyers, doctors, etc.).
  • Sense of security. Paradoxically, it can feel safer when things are complicated than...
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πŸ‘Ž The 3 Greatest Reasons For Underperformance

leadership strategy Aug 03, 2022

Over the years of my coaching and consulting practice, I’ve been confronted with a number of repeating practices in all kinds of organisations that result in performance levels far below their potential. 

In other words: many people, teams, and entire organisations are constantly sabotaging themselves because of their thought patterns, routines, and behaviours, consistently staying below their possible performance levels. 

Here are my top 3 reasons for underperformance. Look at your own team and assess how much better you are. If you’re not, start changing today. 

  1. No clear vision. Yes, I have stated this over and over again. And still, most businesses lack a compelling vision for their future. The results on team motivation are tremendous. How well can you perform when you don’t know in which direction you are heading?
  2. No consistent strategy execution. Most organisations do not have a clear, simple, and transparent strategy execution with...
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🦁 Productivity Tips From A Top Predator

We often learn the most when we leave our traditional thinking patterns and embark on a journey of discovery.

Then, many things become clear that would otherwise remain hidden. This is also the case in the following little story:

Imagine the most powerful predator of the savannah, the lion, lying there in the shade of a tree. He's a little hungry and soon the pack will go hunting again.

At that moment, a mouse (or a similar small animal) crawls along in front of him. It would be an easy prey. And yet the lion will not lift a finger (I mean: claw).

Why? Because the nutritional value of a mouse barely exceeds the energy expended to catch and digest it. If the lion hunted mice, he would have to starve.

What does he hunt instead? Something much more difficult, namely gazelles, antelopes and even buffalos. Why? Because that's the only thing that produces the results the pride needs to survive. The ratio of return to effort is much better, even taking into account the considerable effort...

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β›± How often do you write a new swimming pool?

What would make your business or your team dramatically more successful? Not just a bit, but substantially! Do you have the answer? Here it is: By becoming THE go-to address in your market for both your potential customers and your potential staff members. 

THIS is key. Anything else is cosmetic. Why? Because all businesses that magically attract customers and employees can choose with whom they want to do business. They can decide the prices and the scope of their delivery. 

Paul McCartney once famously said that if he wants a new swimming pool for his house he just needs to write a new song. This is because he knew that each song the Beatles published would become a hit and easily pay for a new swimming pool (and lots of other things too). 

Consequently, one of my standard pieces of advice to my clients in terms of dramatically growing their business is to shift the focus from praising their product, their service, or their company, towards creating a celebrity...

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🫣 Why Your People Don't Take Responsibility

This is one of the most common themes I encounter in leadership coaching: How can I get my people to take more responsibility?

The significance is clear: when someone takes on full responsibility, there is no blame, things get done faster, I can always rely on the other person, and so on.

Here is my hypothesis: most people like to take responsibility. It's just that it's constantly being taken away from them, even by their manager.

This is similar to motivation: Most people are motivated. They are just constantly demotivated by others, especially by their boss.

So the key question is: What are you doing to take responsibility away from your people without realizing it?

Here are three key behaviors you're teaching others to be irresponsible without noticing (and then I'll give you three tips on what to do instead):

  • Too many instructions. Rules, processes and instructions have their purpose. But at the same time, they reduce the sense of responsibility. Because it wasn't me who made...
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🎨 What Have You Created Lately?

leadership productivity Jul 20, 2022

At each moment in time, you have the choice between consuming, executing, and creating. In many cases we do not even decided by ourselves, but let others tell us which choice to make. 

  • Consuming. You are passively being driven by events, your environment, or other people. Or you actively process what others present to you, without any major initiative of your own. Typical consumption: Emails, social media, television, shopping, water cooler chats.
    Important sub-category: consumption that grows our knowledge, skills, or capabilities. Examples: reading good books, listening to good audio programs, watching useful video courses.
  • Executing. You are actively processing something of more or less importance. All typical daily work routines fall into this category, as well as tasks that we execute at our jobs.
  • Creating. You are creating something new. You leave a legacy, no matter how small. After any creation, there is something in the world for a certain period of time that...
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