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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


Franz Beckenbauer was right!

culture leadership Jul 26, 2018

In an interview a long time ago, German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer replied to a reporter's question "What do you most wish for in your team?

"I'd be happy if every player could at least correctly control the ball after receiving a pass."

For all non-soccer friends: Controlling the ball after a colleague's pass is a basic requirement for a good game. Nevertheless, any amateur player can tell you that this is not so easy.

The same applies to business - if you want to get your team to perform better and into the metaphorical Champions League, make sure that everyone can "control the ball" first.

What does this mean for your team? Here are three ideas:

  1. Reliability. Unreliability is like a disease I've observed spreading more and more: Requests are ignored, deadlines are exceeded without warning, clear promises are not kept for flimsy reasons, etc. Reliability is not only a virtue but a necessity for high-performing teams!
  2. Responsibility. Accepting the ball means taking full...
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The summer slump myth


"I can't reach anybody in summer anyway!" 

"People are all on vacation anyway!" 

"In July and August, we can take things a little easier. In September we'll be taking off again!"

Do you sometimes hear such statements from your people (and from yourself)? Well, here comes another uncomfortable truth (you're used to that from me): the most prolific people never say such things. They step on the gas just when the others are relaxing.

"But you can't ignore the facts," I hear you say, "there really aren't many people in the office!"

Attention: You hear me, again and again, warning you about the myths that we constantly tell ourselves. Only this doesn't make them true!

Here are three ideas on how to deal with the so-called "summer slump":

  1. Mindset. Many "facts" only emerge in our minds if we say them long enough. If we keep telling ourselves that we can't reach a customer in the summer, for example, that's how it's going to be. Believe it or not, you produce the results you...
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Germany is out! And you?

culture leadership mindset Jul 13, 2018

Even if you're not watching the Soccer World Cup, you've probably heard that the German team - the previous World Champions - were eliminated in the early group stage.

From the perspective of success, it is not only the fact itself that is interesting, but also the “how” and “why”. The question behind it is quite simple: how can a team of world-class players play so poorly?

Before you look gloatingly or disappointedly at the German soccer team, ask yourself how you and your own team are doing.

Here are three thought-provoking ideas:

  1. Mental work. True winning teams are distinguished above all by outstanding brainwork. It's less the skills of the team members than the winning spirit: Do I really believe in winning and am I willing to pay the price? Or do I want to play it safe? Where does your team stand in relation to these questions?
  2. Development work. Once things go well, we are tempted to neglect our own development work. The same applies to teams. The...
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You are world class!

mindset Jul 05, 2018

The good news first: You are already outstanding! Moreover, you can be outstanding on almost any topic.

What do I mean by that? Simply: Everything you practice consistently long enough will get into your "blood" so much that you will be significantly better than average. So far so simple. Here's the thing:

Most people do not apply this simple wisdom consistently and are not even aware of their daily routines.

Here is the guiding principle: You will only excel in what you practice every day.

Examples: If you complain daily about the difficult circumstances, you will be top class in blaming. If you don't do sports, you'll be world-class at avoiding sports (yes, that's a habit too)! If you spend 80 percent of your time in meetings every day, you will be outstanding at attending meetings.

The only relevant question is: Are the areas in which you are top class the ones in which you want to be top class?

If not, change your daily routines. Three ideas:

  1. Clarity. Write down for four weeks...
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Why don't you just start?

leadership productivity Jun 28, 2018

You probably know this: the longer you deal with a topic, the clearer the most important drivers for success become. This applies to cooking and programming, coaching and so on: at some point – with experience– you know the decisive moves.

I experience the same with my core subject, the maximization of success. In my various conversations, there is always a reason that prevents people and teams from seizing opportunities and becoming more successful.

And this reason is very simple: most never start. In other words: "On your mark, get set, ... Stop!"

The reasons for this are mostly known and lie in the mindset and there above all in the fears we all have somewhere. This can be excellently addressed through coaching.

Here are three ideas on getting yourself and your team ready to get started:

  1. Input. Let yourself be inspired by examples where the start of initiatives and the courageous approach has led to success. Read more and give your team more to read. Audio programs...
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And again, a World Cup!


Why is soccer so popular in many parts of the world? Here are three ideas and one conclusion for your business or team:

  1. Strong identification. In principle, anyone can play or at least imagine playing soccer. That's why everyone can sympathize if something works or not.
  2. Fighting spirit. At least in good games, we feel the fighting spirit of the team and the will to win. In good teams, there is no discussion about fighting for victory.
  3. Clear goals and simple rules. Every player on the field and every spectator knows the simple rules (except the offside rule perhaps) and above all the clear goals: Whoever has more goals after 90 minutes wins.

So, now the question: How good is your team or company in each of the three success factors?

First, do you offer your team members and customers a strong sense of identification? Do you make your products or services simply "experienceable"? 

Second, does your team have the fighting spirit to win? Do all members have the corresponding...

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Forget Change Management!

leadership Jun 14, 2018

It is often important which words you attach to topics. Do you speak in conditional or indicative? Do you say "we will" or "we want"? Do you choose superlatives (e.g. "the shortest delivery time") or do you talk indefinitely ("a short delivery time")?

I had discussed the meaning of language elsewhere. Today, I am concerned with the misleading term "change management”. Here is what I mean:

When you "manage" change, it means you are reactive. Management is not shaping, but controlling. You control and optimize what happens anyway. An important function in companies, but not for change!

Change must be initiated, shaped and guided. This has nothing to do with management, but with leadership.

So if you want change (which is doubtful with most change projects, by the way), then do the following:

  1. Lead the change instead of "managing" it. Define a bold vision and try to achieve it.
  2. Work on the mindset of the people who should work with you on the change. Unsuitable mindset is the...
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About QWERTY and Vinyl Records

It is a remarkable fact that we stick to habits even when the original reason has long since disappeared.

Examples: The keys on your computer are arranged in the way they are ("QWERTY"), so the hammers of the mechanical typewriter get caught as little as possible when writing quickly (which is why frequently used letters are as far apart as possible). The "album" of a musician has about 12 classical pieces of music. This is because vinyl records simply couldn’t fit more than 20-30 minutes per side. 

There are dozens of such examples. How many of these do you have in your own team and company? Often, it doesn't bother any more. However, significant increases in success are almost always only achieved when these old braids are questioned and replaced by something fundamentally new. But first, you must be aware of them. 

Here are three areas in which "gold" typically lies when you question old habits:

  1. Meetings, reports and documents. It's a classic recommendation: just...
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Are you a role model?

culture leadership Jun 01, 2018

We are all leaders, whether we like it or not. The question is how well we lead. Here is what I'm talking about:

You have certainly heard that what you say is far less decisive than how you behave: In every direct interaction with other people, we automatically see which of their behaviour seems threatening to us, which we can trust and which we should copy. This runs fully automatically. 

The consequence: The more you consciously choose your behaviour, the more you can be exemplary for others and thus a good leader.  

How do you become a better role model? Three ideas:

  1. Define three characteristics for which you want to be regarded as exemplary. How would you ideally like to affect your environment? Examples: Inspiring, positive, energetic, wise, balancing, calming, etc. There are hundreds of possible traits.
  2. Set up an alarm three times a day on your smartphone with one of your three characteristics displayed, e.g. "Inspire!" or "Be positive!". You may think it's...
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Why most "strategies" are pointless

strategy May 23, 2018

It's a simple truth: the most successful companies and individuals have better strategies than the average. Or to put it another way: many of the average companies have no strategy at all, but at best an extrapolation of the past.

How do I know that? Well, quite simply: a strong strategy always needs a strong vision first of all: Where exactly do we want to be in 3 years?

Most companies I see just don’t have that. And there is no point in meeting once a year to define a "strategy". The result is usually, at best, a plan without ambition.

Here are the three crucial questions you need to answer for any true strategy:

  1. Vision. What is the ambitious, emotional, relevant, clear and convincing image of our company or our team in 3 years? Test: If the vision does not cause fear or enthusiasm (or both) in you and the people, it is not a vision.
  2. Self-image. Who must we become in order to achieve the vision? A true vision (see point 1) can never be achieved with today's ways of...
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