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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


The big mass in the middle

culture leadership May 31, 2020

To which group do you belong: 20, 60, or 20? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Ok, here is the resolution: the longer I support business leaders in achieving substantial success growth, the more it solidifies my 20-60-20 rule. It simply states the following: 

  • 20% of the people of any group are keen to implement the new, to apply the learned, to try the ideas.
  • 60% are waiting for something. They are rather skeptical, but not unwilling to move. They listen, but hesitate with execution.
  • 20% are resistant. They will ignore good ideas and sometimes actively fight them.

This distribution is almost always true, no matter what you want to achieve. How does this knowledge help you, as a manager and someone who wants to implement something new? Here is my tip: 

  1. Ignite the fire in the group of the top 20%. Feed their hunger, so they cannot hold back to start the changes you want them to execute.
  2. Provide the middle 60% with certainty and address the typical...
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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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No fantasy!

culture leadership Nov 21, 2019

When I interview a client's executives at the beginning of a collaboration, I almost always ask an intriguing question: "If you had a magic wand and could immediately change something here, what would it be?"

The interesting thing is that almost everyone finds it extremely difficult to answer this question. Not because they don't have enough things to complain about. I've always heard enough of that before.

The problem is different - and that can be very relevant for you and your team: Most of us have forgotten how to think in limitless possibilities. Instead, we are constantly focused on solving problems - also in leadership.

The result: lack of imagination in the design of a strong vision, in the development of strategic possibilities, in positioning in the market and so on.

The imagination of your people (and your own) means an enormous competitive advantage.

What does it take to awaken this imagination? Three things above all:

  1. Decision. You must consciously decide to change the...
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A winning team culture in 3 stages

culture leadership Jul 25, 2019

It is difficult to turn an average company (or business area) into a sustainably outstanding one. 

That's exactly why the best coaches are called upon in sport when it comes to advancing to the next league (or to the Champions League finals). Also, leadership is extremely important in business for the same reason.

What does a top coach (or even what I do with my clients regarding the above question) actually do?

If you study the topic (and especially the successes), it's always these three steps with which you can turn an average team into an outstanding winning team:

  1. Basics. The reasons for more or less success can be found in very simple traits with each individual, which were often only completely forgotten: Full responsibility, ambition, perseverance, and some other things are very simple principles of every winning team, which most people violate daily. That's why we first have to work systematically on these principles.
  2. Clarity. For each significant change, it needs...
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How do you feel about the summer?

culture leadership Jul 11, 2019

What do you think of this summer? Too hot? Or rather, wasn't it too cold until a few days ago?

My point is this: no matter what you think, there will be many people who see the whole thing differently than you do. Although that's actually a trivial insight, but it's always overlooked in everyday life.

Sometimes I jokingly say that as a leadership coach I am at times also an expensive reminder. So, with this point:

Your internal story about this summer has a massive influence on your behavior and your actions (for remembrance: Thinking Behavior Action Results).

If someone has a different story about it (i.e. thinks differently), he or she will behave differently. Thus, they will achieve different results. But it gets even harder: the other person will interpret your behavior from his or her viewpoint. They might also react "strangely" in your view.

Now, here comes the transition to business: we not only think differently only about the summer weather but about everything. It also...

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This is 500!

culture leadership strategy Jun 27, 2019

500 weeks ago, I committed to sending value to my community every single week. This is almost 10 years!

I called this newsletter "Friday Noon Memo".

Thank you for being a reader and by this a supporter of the “success movement” for making the world a better place.

Here are four landmark posts over the last 500 weeks.

I think they didn't lose any relevance.

Enjoy reading!

Issue #1, October 9th, 2009:

Foundations for a better performance 

Let me invite you to our Friday noon memo where we discuss fresh ideas about better performance of people and organisations. Enjoy reading.

Always the same story

All organisations presume they are different from the competition. Perhaps they are, to a certain extent; however, three key challenges are almost the same for each organisation, no matter in which industry, of what size, if non-profit or commercial.

  1. The goals, objectives and strategies are not consistent or not consistently communicated.
  2. The business processes...
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What do your people think about?

culture leadership mindset Jun 12, 2019

It is commonly said, “You will become what you think of most of the time.” This applies to any organization. The more people talk about “unsolvable” problems, the more unsolvable those problems become. 

The more managers talk about tough competition from Asia or elsewhere, the more the staff will act as if the situation is hopeless. The more people think that the next meeting is a waste of time, the more likely it is that the meeting will be ineffective.

The root cause is the programming of our brain: we move in the direction we are facing. And we generate the reality we think of most.

This is why the assessment of any company’s difficulties is fairly easy for me as a consultant: most of the time, I just need to listen carefully to how people talk during the day. You as a leader can do the same: listen carefully to yourself and to your people. And then influence the thought patterns.

Here are five ideas:

  • During a meeting, when...
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How many rear-view mirrors do you need?

culture leadership Apr 25, 2019

How much do you look ahead and how much do you look into the rear mirror?

How much time do you spend on creating your future and how much time explaining to others (and yourself) why you do what you do?

These are crucial questions not only for your own life, but even more so for any professional organization.

Too many companies become paralyzed by looking into the rear-view mirror.

They squander precious hours on project reviews, steering committee meetings, deep-dives, audits, and reports, forgetting that such time is much better spent moving forward than looking over their shoulders.

Looking backwards is caused by a culture of fear, mistrust, and control. People look into the rear-view mirror to check who is behind them, and organizations and their leaders do the same.

Here are some indications that your organization spends too much time looking backwards:
  • Preparation and execution of project reviews takes more than ten percent of the project leader’s time.
  • The...
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How to eat an elephant


Maybe you know the comical question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer: "Bite by bite!"

The background is a very relevant one for changing behaviors and corporate cultures: Most changes never happen - even if you consider them important - because people never really start.

And by "start" I don't mean that you're attending a workshop or reading a book on the subject (although these can be important preparations), but that you're really changing something about yourself.

The order is always: awareness intent to change information execution perseverance.

Steps 1-3 can be seen quite often among individuals and in companies. Even step 4 sometimes still occurs. At step 5 we lost most of the people, despite our best intentions. The elephant mentioned at the beginning still stands tall.

So how can you overcome this obstacle? Here are three steps:
  1. Simple process. Simply define the steps you want to take on yourself. Then implement them, every day. Example: If you want to be more...
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Downturn? Upswing? Full Swing!

culture leadership Apr 12, 2019

I don't know about you, but I can't hear all the fuss anymore about the coming economic downturn in Europe. Well, I do not presume to predict if and when there will be anyone in the near future or not.

My point is different: the fitter you and your team and your company are, the less any external influences can affect you. On the contrary: the best-trained teams can even benefit from a deterioration of the situation.

I like to talk about going through any crisis in “full swing”. Three examples:

  1. Full swing in sales. Bring your sales strategies, sales methods and above all the mindset of your teams up to speed at all times. Continuously increase your sales productivity. Most companies do far too little for this and then wonder when nothing more is sold as soon as the situation becomes difficult.
  2. Full swing in leadership. Work continuously to increase the quality of leadership in your company or team. Here, too, I can see that most companies have a lot of catching up to...
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