Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


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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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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The amazing differences

culture leadership Jan 30, 2020

One of the wonderful things for me as a sparring partner, consultant and executive coach is that in recent years, I have had the opportunity to look into well over a hundred companies in all kinds of industries. Many of them became clients.

One thing I always find fascinating: the different ways of thinking, behaving and working that the people in the companies - and above all the managers - use to achieve their successes (and failures).

What is an absolute must for some people may have never been thought of by others. For some, weekly briefings are routine; others even have trouble arranging such an appointment once a year.

Some show fun and humour; others make you feel like you have to go to the cellar to laugh. Some constantly encourage and challenge themselves with coaching and training, while others almost never do anything of the kind.

Here is my point: There is a clear connection between how a team thinks and acts and its ongoing successes.

The problem: Most people never look...

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How 2020 Will Be Very Different

leadership mindset Jan 09, 2020

You are likely to hear all kinds of well-intentioned advice on how to be more successful and happier in 2020, and I will not repeat it here. But when I look at past projects and coaching sessions with my clients, there are certainly some places where I would like to see more courage to make significant changes.

Here are five ideas for a completely different (and, therefore, even better) 2020:

  1. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. We are all fallible individuals who try to make the best out of our lives. The world keeps on turning with or without us.
  2. Your life is finite. Stop putting things off and start moving. At the very least, plan a fixed start date in your calendar. Make use of every day!
  3. You have all the power. You are incredibly powerful when it comes to positively influencing others, but most people suppress this power for fear of attracting too much attention. Make the lives of at least three people a little better every day and do so very purposefully.
  4. You decide...
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Does your sales team rock 2020?

I find it amazing with what degree of complacency some CEOs and sales managers accept a mediocre performance in sales. Almost like a law of nature! There always seems to be enough reasons:

  1. “You simply can't get good salespeople these days!”
  2. “In our industry, customers always bought because of low price!”
  3. "Someone is just a salesperson, or he/she is not. You can hardly change someone!”

And so on. Frankly, I can't hear these excuses any more.

If people put just as much energy into the advancement of their sales as to look for reasons for trouble, we would be already a considerable step further.

My question is quite simple: What do you do to make your sales really rock in 2020?

More growth than in recent years, a higher margin, more enthusiastic customers and so on.

Of course, this is not possible with the old methods. Indeed, most salespeople have to considerably shake up their mindsets and attitude. Not to mention new sales strategies, tactics and...

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3 Important Reminders for 2020

leadership mindset Dec 26, 2019

In this time when most of us are less "busy" with daily routines and more thinking about essential questions, it is good to remember some important principles.

Here are 3 extremely important reminders for the coming year that many of us keep forgetting:

  1. There are no boundaries, either for yourself or for others.
  2. Change comes through action, not through consideration.
  3. Happiness comes from progress, not from security and stagnation.

In the video I explain more background and give tips on each of these three reminders.

I wish you a strong start into the new year!

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A life full of possibilities

leadership Dec 19, 2019

Just before the holidays is a good moment for me to finally listen to the book, The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Absolutely worth hearing and reading!

The former world-renowned conductor, and now musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and his wife share not only fascinating episodes from orchestral life, but also, above all, how to unfold the absolute best of people.

These are strong leadership lessons!

One topic I particularly liked and considered to be extremely relevant for almost all leaders is the removal of self-imposed barriers and the opening up of almost unlimited possibilities through outstanding leadership.

Concrete tip:

"If you first give your team members the highest positive rating and then let them write how they will achieve this outstanding rating (in the future), you will eliminate all fears of failure in one fell swoop and open up completely new horizons for outstanding results.

Because the focus is now...

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