All posts filed under: Leadership

Three Pillars of Sustainable Change: Empathy, Trust and Patience

Change and change management was yesterday. Today we are doing transformations. A digital transformation for business models, because data is the new oil. An agile transformation for the organization and its processes, because flexibility and speed are essential in times of great uncertainty. Unfortunately often only the name has changed and where it is labelled with transformation it actually contains very traditional – and very tayloristic – change management. That’s why panaceas and blueprints are on the rise: simply introduce LeSS or SAFe or copy Spotify and call this your agile transformation. However, this completely ignores the nature of a transformation as a natural development process of a complex system in favor of a pattern that has so far only worked reasonably well, but is at least well-known and appears well manageable: simply transforming the organization and the people in it like a complicated machine. Accompanied, of course, by all kinds of “change theatre”, because somehow you have to win the people. A successful transformation that deserves this name, however, is based on visions instead …

Leadership Is About Asking Questions Instead of Giving Answers

Leadership is about making others successful. This is the leadership philosophy of Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google. The founder of the drugstore chain dm, Götz W. Werner, gets even more to the point and states: “Leadership is nowadays only legitimate if it is aimed at the self-leadership of the people entrusted to it”. Leadership is therefore an equal function within and for a group of people and always an encounter of adults on par with each other. In contrast to Taylor’s management, which is still too deeply rooted in our hierarchical organizations, leadership means first and foremost asking (the right) questions rather than giving (the right) answers.

How Jeff Bezos Banned PowerPoint and What to Learn from It

This is now the eighth year I’m blogging. I like writing. Writing helps me to get to the point. And by this I mean, really to the point and not just to bullet points on a slide of PowerPoint. Formulating thoughts in such a way that they appeal to the reader and the message reaches the reader is damn hard work. It requires discipline and concentration – for every article, every week again. It is all the more astonishing that Jeff Bezos has banned PowerPoint completely and instead insists on six-page narratives, which are then studied in silence (sic!) by everyone at the beginning of a meeting. If Jeff Bezos and his team utilize their time in this way in the extremely fast-moving business fields in which Amazon in very successful, this can be seen as an inspiration for all of us to tell more and better stories instead of heartlessly enumerating endless lists of bullet points.

The Art of Ambidexterity

We are experiencing a world in which it is “normal that many things are changing and are changing more quickly than ever”, as Karl-Heinz Geißler so aptly put it. The perceived or real speed of life increases daily driven by fascinating and sometimes frightening technological developments from Artificial Intelligence to Blockchain. This is exerting enormous pressure on companies to change and innovate. The half-life of products and business models is becoming shorter and shorter. This means that companies have to reinvent themselves over and over again and at ever shorter intervals in order to survive. In addition to the efficiency and profitability that are always in the focus of today’s business, it must become the second nature of long-term viable companies to boldly explore new opportunities and constantly test new business models. But precisely because today’s urgent business tends to displace the important exploration of tomorrow’s business, the sixth and final thesis in the Manifesto for Human Leadership says: “Courageously exploring the new over efficiently exploiting the old.”

Leadership as an Encounter of Adults on Par with Each Other

Leadership is a matter of stance. Unfortunately, leadership is still defined in terms of power and subordination. The relationship between leaders and those being led is usually asymmetrical: the boss has more experience, more information and more power than his staff. The employees are therefore more dependent on their boss than, conversely, the boss on them. Historically, this attitude stems from Taylorism, where the manager was actually the one who understood the workflows best and could structure them into simple steps for his mostly unskilled people. However, these times are long gone. Since then, the nature of work and the educational level of employees have changed radically. What has remained in many cases is the familiar dependency between boss and employee. Peter F. Drucker coined the term knowledge work for this changed world of work as early as 1959 (far ahead of his time). He recognized the fundamental differences early on and called for leadership to be understood as a cooperation of adults on par with each other. That is precisely why the fifth thesis …