Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


The Bridge of Genoa: also a leadership disaster

leadership Aug 24, 2018

It is a well-known wisdom that our true character shows up in stressful situations. Because in this case the control by the conscious mind is reduced or switched off.

Great leaders are distinguished by the fact that they are outstanding leaders especially in stressful situations where "sunshine managers" often fail.

On the contrary, we have recently witnessed a sad demonstration of bad leadership: the catastrophe of the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa in Italy is terrible. I have been here several times and, I am certain that I have already crossed the bridge.

What was needed right after the accident was a prudent clarification of the causes to ensure the prevention of an incident like this from ever happening again? That is precisely what we must expect from the political leaders.

Some have apparently failed this test and provided a sad example of catastrophic leadership (as if it wasn't already enough of a tragedy).

Here are three essential leadership mistakes (but beware:...

Continue Reading...

Something is wrong with your culture!

culture leadership Aug 17, 2018

Studies are one of those things: you always have to understand the context before drawing conclusions.

I recently stumbled across a study by Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban - two academics from Harvard Business School - who concluded that people in open-plan offices communicate less openly (and more by email instead).

The reason seems clear: people don't want to expose themselves to others with their statements.

Here comes my diagnosis: If you have this problem (that people are afraid to open up to their colleagues), we have a real problem with culture. And open-plan offices simply disclose this (similar to how the reduction of inventories reveals problems in production).

Here are the three root causes if your people are hiding and not communicating openly:

  1. No trust in others. As a leader, you know: if people talk behind the backs of other people, or rather write emails instead of openly addressing problems, we do not have a communication problem, but a problem of trust. No team...
Continue Reading...

Why are teams successful - and why not?

culture leadership Aug 09, 2018

What applies to individuals is just as true for teams: The most important foundation for outstanding success is success habits, which are fed by the beliefs.

Sounds simple, but hardly anyone pays attention. Look around you, do you know even one outstanding team that has destructive habits and is unproductive? Or that doesn't believe in its own success?

The good news: you can (and must) train your beliefs and habits.

You have the choice: either you develop your own success habits, or you live the habits of others.

The same applies to teams. Here are three ideas on how you can improve the performance of each team:

  1. Self-image: Improve the image the team has of itself and its own performance. Many teams I see have an inconsistent picture of themselves, the performance of the members, etc.
  2. Self-ideal: How do we want to be perceived? What distinguishes us? What makes us outstanding? In particular, the last question causes many people and teams considerable difficulties.
  3. Self-esteem: Many...
Continue Reading...

Why your training programs might be useless

culture leadership Aug 02, 2018

Does this sound familiar? You try to explain to your team (or your colleagues) again and again what matters, what needs to be done and which skills are particularly important right now.

You may even invest a lot in training and education - only to realize the results are limited.

Here comes the exciting thing: the best of the best have different focuses and are therefore at the top. Leadership and sales legend Brian Tracy has coined this formula: (IA + AA) x A = IHP

This means: the inborn attributes (IA) plus the acquired attributes (AA), multiplied by the attitude (A), result in individual human performance (IHP). The important thing: the attitude (A) is the multiplier.

And this is exactly the attitude you have to work hardest on to achieve outstanding success.

Here are three brief ideas on how you can tackle this:

  1. Define the demands on yourself and your team. I'm sure this is not the first time you've heard this from me, precisely because it's so important: What are the standards...
Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...

50% Complete

Yes, I want to benefit from the FRIDAY NOON MEMO

Simply enter your name and email and hit "Submit".

Important: You will receive an email with information on data privacy, which you must confirm in order to register effectively. Please check your email inbox.