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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


Right Now, Mindset Counts

leadership mindset Apr 09, 2020

Yes, we are living in challenging times. But it’s in difficult periods that you can see who’s getting ahead as a leader and who’s getting stuck.

It’s a simple truth that if ten companies or teams are hit by an extreme challenge, there will almost always be one or two that benefit from it in the end. What is the decisive factor for this success in difficult times? You guessed it: the mindset of the leaders and the entire team. 

Our thoughts and beliefs determine our decisions and actions, whether we like it or not. Because this factor is so important, I will be conducting a live webinar about it. Click here for more information and registration.

Here are three ideas to remember for now:
  1. Focus. What you focus on will grow, and your focus as a leader is contagious to your team. What are you focusing your thoughts on during this difficult situation: the barriers or the opportunities? How much time do you spend on each of these categories?
  2. Perspective. It...
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Who Will Win?

leadership mindset Apr 03, 2020

Every crisis has lessons, and so does this one. Here are three of the most important lessons from my perspective:

  1. Things can always turn out worse or better than you think they can. What we thought was impossible yesterday may be reality tomorrow, and sometimes very quickly.
  2. Those who can switch from survival mode back to growth mode quickly will emerge from a crisis as winners. Many lick their wounds for far too long.
  3. The right mindset is crucial, and the true mindset shows itself exactly when things get tough. Mindset determines our focus, our decisions, and our success.

“That’s all easy to say,” you may think, “but how does that help me with our daily craziness?”

I’m glad you asked. Here are three concrete ideas on how you can implement these findings for your benefit (and that of your team):
  1. No comfort. Even when things are getting better, there is no more rest. Stability is a dangerous illusion. Be relentless in always looking for better...
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Emotion Eats Logic for Breakfast


In my workshops, I am always confronted with opposition and astonishment when I make it clear that we make all decisions one hundred percent emotionally (and then justify them rationally). Furthermore, the strongest motivation for decisions is the avoidance or reduction of “pain,” especially anticipated pain.

Ambition and pleasure always come second when making decisions. So does logic. Salespeople need to know this.

These facts, proven by countless studies, are currently receiving blatant and tragic confirmation from the novel coronavirus and the decisions associated with it. Even in Switzerland, shelves of pasta and rice are being bought up out of fear. Unbelievable!

You can use the mechanisms that become visible in this process in a positive way for your business and leadership at any time if you want to get people to act:

  1. Proximity. The more immediate the perceived threat, the stronger the emotional reaction. This also applies to positive incentives. If they are...
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How to Turn Threats into Opportunities

leadership Mar 19, 2020

Suddenly, it was there, out of the blue: the virus, the fear, the interruption of supply chains, the massive expansion of home-based work, and much more. Here is the crucial question: do you see these surprises as a threat or as an opportunity?

Behind that question is the fact that, in principle, you can see any threat as an opportunity and vice versa. But there is more to it than that. The really exciting thing is that many people only seize opportunities for massive change when there is a massive threat.

It’s all a question of mindset. While some, like the famous dear, freeze in the headlights, others seize the opportunity and use an uncomfortable situation to their advantage.

Here are a few examples of areas where you can create opportunities for yourself and your business in uncomfortable times:
  1. Team. If your team wants to or has to stay at home because of the virus, then take the opportunity to massively expand the home-office option. Give support, inspire your people to...
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Greta Is Right: Fear Works Wonders!

leadership Mar 12, 2020

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is known for her statement addressed to the heads of world governments: “I want you to panic.” She also stated that, unfortunately, the addressed people do not panic because of their speeches and mentioned facts.

It’s quite fascinating. A virus has come and is taking this job off her hands. Managers all over the world are getting scared, closing factories, staying at home, and hardly ever flying. The result: environmental pollution is decreasing rapidly, with positive effects on global warming.

It is still a fact (and always will be) that fear works better and faster than anything else if you want to achieve behavioral changes. Fear works especially well when it is immediate, when it involves uncertainties, and when it affects people in a very personal way.

Why is that so? Fear is deeply emotional (as opposed to rational), and only emotions move people to act, never logic.

What is the relevance to your business? Well, it’s very...

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Is the Coronavirus Making Us Sick?


Here’s a very current topic and what it teaches us for our success: the coronavirus. It is the all-dominant media topic these days. 

I don’t want to trivialize a single death due to the virus—even one was one too many. But some mechanisms make the virus a “media hit,” and these mechanisms are not caused by the real danger. Otherwise, the media would be full of reports every day of the year about deaths from the common flu (of which there are thousands to tens of thousands every year in Europe alone) or road deaths or hospital infections.

The mechanisms that make the coronavirus so prominent in the media are different from the facts (and we can all learn from this situation if we want to spread news quickly):

  • Newness. The virus is new, and for this reason alone, it is exciting.
  • Mysticism. The implications are not yet fully understood, which makes the idea of the virus a breeding ground for all kinds of conspiracy theories. Fascinating!
  • Threat....
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4-day week: An unpleasant truth

productivity Feb 27, 2020

Lately I've been reading more and more about the idea of the 4-day work week and its positive effect on productivity: people manage more in 4 days than they did in 5 days before.

I find the reasoning behind this fascinating: you focus better when you have less time available.

So, I ask myself a very simple question: What does that have to do with 4 or 5 days? Why not switch to the 2-day week for the same reason?

Let's be serious: If we can focus better in 4 days, we can also do it in 5 days.

Our performance has very little to do with external circumstances and a great deal to do with our internal desire for high productivity.

Here are three ideas on how you and your team can become significantly more productive, whether you work 3, 4, 5 or 6 days a week:

  1. Tight deadlines. Set tight time horizons. For example, I write these impulses in the 10 minutes I spend waiting for my next train at the station. Works like a charm! Others read Facebook while I'm producing.
  2. Standards. Most of us...
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Keeping your feet on the ground

leadership mindset Feb 21, 2020

Trump, climate change, the corona virus, refugee crises, etc…these things can make one pretty dizzy. Nowadays, countless messages come pouring in, through all kinds of channels, every day, and 90 percent are negative.

One can easily get the impression that these events are all crucial for our daily well-being. But not at all!

They have an influence, sure, but your personal environment is largely determined by exactly one thing: your small daily decisions.

How you treat the people around you has a greater impact on your happiness and success than the killing of a terrorist in Yemen or even the impact of a new virus.

It is very easy to be distracted by exploited media events and use them as an excuse for doing nothing.

Keep your feet on the ground. Here are three things you should do every day despite or because of all crises:
  1. Decision. Decide every day on your behaviour and your positive influence on others. How do you want to positively influence others? What positive things...
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The very simple things

leadership productivity Feb 13, 2020

I proudly announce that I recently became an author for the renowned Swiss business publication, "HANDELSZEITUNG."

My first article is entitled, "Back to the Basics" (just send me an email if you want a pdf of it, in German).

I chose this title deliberately because most companies focus too much on the big programs, the next big strategy, the introduction of new IT systems, the latest employee development program and so on.

These are not in themselves the wrong topics. But often the focus is lost on the huge effects of often very simple changes - the "basics."

Here are a few examples:

  1. Responsibility. If everyone in the company takes full responsibility for and accepts the consequences of his/her own actions, we no longer have to track various projects and can eliminate numerous checkpoints, which also speeds up the activities.
  2. Vision. If there is a clear, unambiguous and emotionally compelling vision, you can avoid many discussions in leadership. The question is then quite...
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How to win people over

leadership Feb 06, 2020

Here is another lesson straight from practice: When I start my "winning team workshops" with a new customer, what do you think often strikes me? Right…skepticism.

This sometimes goes as far as the refusal of individual people to commit themselves fully to participate in the various exercises.

Here comes the fascinating thing: Even extremely skeptical people succeed over time in getting fully involved and committing tto working on themselves, and it usually only takes a few hours.

How does something like this happen? This question is relevant for every person who wants to positively influence others; in particular, for every leader.

Here are three elements that are decisive in determining whether someone is willing to get fully involved in the team despite initial resistance:

  1. Respect. Everything starts with honest respect for each person. If someone criticizes you openly, you know that it is mainly about the criticizing person. He/she wants to express his/her dissatisfaction....
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