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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


Do you lean forward? Or are you losing control?

leadership mindset Apr 04, 2019

Today, I send you a video impulse, directly from the ski slopes of Tignes in the French Alps at an altitude of over 3000m.

Of course, I also included a message for leadership, which I had already shared a few years ago - with some resonance.

What is it about?

Every good skier knows that you have to do something counterintuitive to get down the slopes safely: You have to lean forward – the steeper and more difficult the slope the more.

Beginners, on the other hand, tend to lean backwards and wonder why they lose control.

And here's the question: How much do you lean forward in business? To make the analogy more concrete, here are three examples:

  1. Ambition. Do you set ambitious goals or are you satisfied with the situation as it is? Many of the leaders I see "lean back quite a bit" when it comes to ambition.
  2. Sales. Do you represent your products and services passionately and persuasively? Or do you tell yourself that the customer will come when he wants something? Only a few...
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Are you standing in the rain?

leadership mindset Mar 29, 2019

The other day I published a video on LinkedIn that attracted some attention and sympathy (watch it here).

The title is "Do you ever feel like standing in the rain?" It's about a myth I keep encountering, namely that success means a better and easier life.

Is that really the case? The answer: Yes, partly.

After all, success comes at a price (which everyone who wants to be successful in an unfamiliar field knows): The price is that you have to do profane and often hard work which has nothing to do with success directly.


  • As a top tennis player, you have to train serving again and again, even if it's not fun (and it almost never is).
  • As a top seller, you have to generate new leads again and again, even if it's hard and ungrateful. And you rarely feel successful.
  • As a top leader, you always have to deal with the profane worries of the team members and other unpleasant topics, even if you would rather do completely different things.

There are countless examples of these. The...

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Are you snapping back?

culture leadership Mar 21, 2019

In my leadership development workshops, there is always a miraculous phenomenon: the workgroups develop innovative ideas - often outside the comfort zone - on how to lead people's ways of thinking and behaving towards more success.

This success takes place in "risk-free" exercises, where nothing direct happens to the ideas and results.

Almost everyone agrees that the ideas and measures presented make sense and have desirable positive effects, such as greater enthusiasm, increasing productivity, growing innovative power and so on.

But then something strange often happens: As soon as you give the same workgroups the task of creating concrete action packages for their divisions or departments from these ideas and measures, with milestones and success measures, they snap back into the old, conservative way of thinking. Examples:

  • Instead of strong leadership with clear objectives, they prefer to discuss measures to change the structure.
  • Instead of agreeing on a really strong vision with...
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Create more problems!

leadership mindset Mar 14, 2019

If you don't have enough success, maybe you are not creating enough problems! You might find yourself rubbing your eyes in amazement: "Create more problems? We already have enough of them!” 

Or: "Don't the problems prevent us from focusing on the essentials?

This is all correct, however: Too often people do not strive for the next level of success because they fear they will get even more problems as a result.

And that is exactly the point: You will always generate problems if you substantially change something. So you better have the mindset that creating problems is something positive.

In other words, the more problems you create, the more it becomes a sign you, your team or company are developing substantially.

Or do you think that Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and many others have pursued the path to success without experiencing problems? It will more than likely be the opposite!

So, the next time you are looking for the easiest way with the...
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Who wants to win anyway?

leadership mindset Mar 08, 2019

I have just come back from a global leadership workshop for a medium-sized company in Vienna. Almost 40 leaders who participated went through one and a half days of intensive and successful training. The goal was: to create the basis for winning team leadership.

In these types of workshops, the question inevitably arises as to why and whether we want to win. Is winning good at all? And, will others not lose if we win too much?

The answer to these questions is simple: once you have put the participants in a playful competitive situation, everyone will absolutely want to win - virtually without exception.

What really makes us have doubts about winning is the fear of too much success, because success obliges. Success means responsibility. Success raises the bar.

If you want a team or company that will continue to operate successfully in the future (instead of drowning), there is no alternative to winning. Here are the three most important levers you need to use:
  1. More ambition. Most...
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How many chances are you missing?

marketing & sales Feb 28, 2019

"We finally have to improve the customer experience," rumbles the head of sales at the management meeting. "We simply can't do everything we can to sell our products at high prices and then have such shortcomings on delivery!" There was an embarrassed silence.

Only after some hesitation does the head of logistics notice timidly: "After all, we were able to reduce the delivery time by 10 percent last quarter".

Perhaps you are familiar with such discussions. The problem is that they miss the actual crucial point.

Change of scene: When I unpacked my new Apple Watch the other day, I once again noticed how much importance this company continues to place on customer experience, not abstractly, but quite specifically.

This means that a total of 20 steps may be necessary to unpack and start up the device (if you count everything). Each of these steps works right away, is emotionally charged and seamlessly moves on to the next step. After about 10 minutes, the Smartwatch is completely ready...

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High performance and fun: a contradiction?

"A few years ago we had a burnout due to overwork in our staff," says the HR director at the meeting, where the aim is to increase the winning team spirit. Then he adds: "We must not demand too much from our people".

The others nod casually and the CEO remarks: "Yes, let's approach the whole thing with a sensitive touch." I know such objections quite well in a similar form. This reasoning is based on the belief that peak performance and fun are a contraction.

The problem: If you firmly believe that top performance stands in contrast to a pleasant working atmosphere and well-being, you will always shy away from establishing a winning team culture.

The consistently proven fact, on the other hand, is a different one: the happiest and most fulfilled people of all times challenge themselves again and again, measure themselves against the best, are more productive than the average person, and have an overall "winning mentality".

Any sustainable increase in performance begins with the...
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The sin of omission

leadership productivity Feb 15, 2019

"I have to go to the next appointment now!" The words of the division head do not go unheard. The CFO immediately joins in: "I have important things to do" he says, adds "until next time" and leaves the room. The CEO quickly inserts "OK, thanks for the meeting, we'll see you again next week" before packing his things too.

What happened? Nothing unusual: Another meeting without clear results, without clear decisions, without clear actions. Instead, they had been discussing a single point for over 30 minutes in circles.

Why am I telling you this? Well, first of all, the situation described may seem familiar to you. Perhaps you also have meetings whose usefulness can be questioned. In addition, there is a significant problem for many companies: missed opportunities.

Every unsuccessful meeting is a sin of omission.

Why? Well, the time of the participants is the most valuable resource you have in the company. Whoever is in the meeting cannot do anything else during this time, i.e. cannot...

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The essence of good leadership

leadership Feb 07, 2019

Why would anyone want to be led by you? I know that's a tough question, and it's not just about formal managers, it's about everyone:

It should be important to you that people want to follow you (and also horses and dogs, if that is your passion).

I used to do semi-professional ballroom dancing for a long time. There, the men have the leadership responsibility on the floor. I have never met a woman who liked weak, unclear leadership.

On the contrary, this is how we all feel: We are happier and achieve more if we lead ourselves and others well. What does that mean exactly?

Here are three important reminders that sometimes many people forget:
  1. Self-leadership. Leadership begins in yourself. You can never lead others better than you do for yourself. This includes clarity about your own goals, consistency, and recognition of achievements.
  2. Clarity. The number one criterion for good leadership is clarity: clarity about goals, clarity about the "why," clarity about first steps, clarity...
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Nothing new in sales

marketing & sales Feb 01, 2019

Sales is a fascinating subject: it is not only the oldest profession but also constantly evolving. It is about persuasiveness, self-confidence, psychology, value creation, knowledge of human nature and much more.

There is also hardly a topic, which is examined so variously by experts of all possible directions. You can read innumerable - often-good - books in this respect.

How different is the situation when I look into companies (especially small and medium-sized ones)? Often, people "sell" in the same way throughout their lives without questioning the methods, approaches, strategies and much more.

The result: market potential is not tapped, potential customers are disappointed, and margins are carelessly reduced.

There is another way! How? Here are three ideas:

  1. Fresh air. Bring new insights, fresh methods and unusual ideas to your sales team (and all those who deal with customers). Most have not even read a book on sales for years. That must change!
  2. Exercise. Have any customer...
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