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5 reasons your employees will never let you down

leadership skills

Quite recently, I watched an episode of “The Bold Type”, which is a TV-series about a high-fashion magazine, led by strong female, inspired by the life and career of Joanna Coles at Cosmopolitan. At some point the editor-in-chief makes a decision which leads to her immediate dismissal by the supervisory board. I didn’t watch any further at the time I wrote this article. Instead, I thought right away that she owed to come back. She was the one, why everyone in this magazine was that committed. So THAT was the interesting part. Why was I so sure about this? What was it that made me think that these employees are certainly going to bring her back, no matter what happens? I believe that this was due to her leadership-style she lived: powerful, authentic and empathetic. How has this executive managed to accomplish this? How did she create such a company culture? The answer is in this article.

Leading can be hard and lonesome. Practice.

Personally, as an employee, I have never experienced convincing leadership-skills on the receiving end. Hence, it’s no surprise that I too, felt quite insecure in my first weeks of team-leading. So I learned that leading is often a hard and lonesome task. There are hardly any Role Models out there and often not enough mentors to prepare for the team-leading role. Perhaps this is why I became so interested in what it needs to be the difference I wanted to experience myself. However, the remarkable thing that I discovered is that you don’t actually have to lead employees in order to improve your leading skills. You can start to develop these skills by “leading yourself”. This way, you are creating a style that is powerful, authentic and unique.

Simon Sinek once told a story where he saw an officer kissing the forehead of a wounded soldier, who was getting carried away by the Red Cross. This observation made him wonder how a leader could possibly behave in order to inspire others to be ready to sacrifice everything for a cause, including their own life. It is this magical Pull-Power instead of Push-Power that makes a difference. So, how does this work? Let’s get back to editor-in-chief Jacqueline Carlyle in “The Bold Type” and figure out how she does it:

5 Steps to create Pull-Power

1. Coach your employees so they can develop their unique strengths

There is a difference between leading and coaching. When you lead people, you tell them what to do. This is absolutely important in case of fire where you have to protect your staff or your product. But keep asking yourself: Is there any fire? If not: Choose coaching instead.

How that works? Don’t tell your employees the solution right away, encourage them to find one. Maybe it’s a better one than the one you already have imagined.

2. Observe well

However stressful it may be – take your time to observe why this stress has come up. Often it is not connected with the problem itself. Is there anything going on you haven’t noticed until then? Is solving this underlying problem maybe a game-changer?

If you have got a hard time developing this skill – be aware: it is a skill. It can be trained. Through any art you practice actively, you may get better. For example: Draw a pencil, placed right in front of you. Where do you see shadows, where do you see light? How long is it in comparison to the book lying next to it? Draw it. Don’t only think about it, do it. It’s the only way to know whether you get it. It works with playing music as well – the master discipline of course is improvised music. Whoever has done THAT before actively, knows what I am talking about. You want to have a good leader? Take a true musician.

3. Be interested in your employees and co-workers, sympathize

What is going on in your employees lives? This is not a skill, you really HAVE to be interested in what their personal needs are in order to perform. In a way that stays professional, which is super-hard to differentiate. In Jacqueline Carlyle’s work it is obvious: The more work has to do with what has impact in her employees’ lives, with their values, with their meaning in life, the more they are engaged, intrinsically motivated and innovative.

If we want to make a change in someone else’s life, we must allow that change to have a place in our hearts too. Don’t tell people what your company’s values are – live them. Sounds easy? Practice.

4. Empower others

You’ll run out of time and energy if you want to pull too many strings personally. Define responsibilities and boundaries first – dare to have engaged and empowered employees in consequence. Of course, this means that the company may run without you as well for a certain amount of time. But, does it truly in the long run? Without your Pull-Energy? Trust that your absence will be noticed. Or that your path may lead to a much better place eventually. It’s brave to let go and empower others. But for me, it’s the only way it works.

5. People are more important than the product

This is a hard one. If the company performs well, everyone is more happy, right? So, in consequence:  If your top-employee tells you that she or he wants to leave the company – it is your obligation to keep her or him if possible, because it is what is the best for the company (and the easiest way for you…)?

Well. That’s a tough one, because it’s a bundle: If…

  • you are the leader that helps to reveal and strengthen the impact and competence of your employees,
  • your employees feel appreciated, because the feel seen in their personal capabilities, but also their needs,
  • they are convinced you want them to be the best version of themselves for a common reason,

then, as a result, they will never forget that feeling of being truly cared, honesty and professionalism. If you force them to develop the best version they can be – maybe even better than you are capable of – you created Pull-Energy. Your employee eventually will come back even better, or, for instance, will be a Role Model the world strongly needs somewhere else (which is an incredible success). However, your super-power of being a strong, passionate, compassionate leader will not end. Your way will continue. If you’ve been authentic, there will be many others to step in in short time. Pull-Energy.

How to get there

The base for being able to develop this leadership-style is a common purpose. The reason why you all are enthusiastic to come together to work on something that means something important for all of you. But that’s another article.

For how to get there personally, three simple, yet powerful ways: Get a coach. Get creative in arts. Practice. I’d love to read about your experiences.

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Floating or sticking voters: Which ones do you want to have?

„Don’t ever get political!“ was one valueable advice I got when opening up my business. Well, I am not. But I can’t help but talk about values in politics today. I saw this ad this morning, crossing the street to my office:

„Nur gemeinsam schaffen wir’s aus der Klimakrise. Menschlichkeit siegt.“ (SPÖ)

What the blue blazes? No, we won’t stop this climate crisis anytime soon, because it’s only the beginning we are experiencing right now. Because of people denying it, because of rather living cozy and inexpensive than adding one tiny little piece of the puzzle that probably won’t change a thing. Because of industries whose main goals are profit and growth. Which in the end has to lead to intensive livestock farming, child labour and pollution. Because entropie is what usually happens when you choose the path of least resistance. Everything else means: work. Passion. Or knowing one’s values and acting after them.

So – please – all parties of Austria. Know your values and stick to them! Don’t try to take that latest fear-theme to gain some percent. How should I know what you stand for? Do you want to have floating voters or ones that stick, based on the same values? Because then, you’d have to finally take a clear position.

Or: Change the game. Recruit (more or less) neutral experts for ministry-jobs. Like in Canada.

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Corporate Change – The 4 things you have to know in order to succeed

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, a clever group of female entrepreneurs started their businesses – each of them in their very unique way with their minds full of knowledge, their hearts filled with hot burning enthusiasm and their eyes directed to their goals, unswervingly going their way with the power of support they got through one another. For each one of them who needed help, some advice or feared losing track, two others stepped in and coached her until she was on her way again. They called themselves “The Powerwomen” and that was who they were.

Some day, another group of women suddenly appeared at the horizon. That different and similiar at the same time. The “Strong Females” too started their exceptional businesses to make this world a better place, to enrichen lame market supply with their powerful insights, experience and intuition and on the way they supported each other as much as they could.

The Vision

After nearly two exhausting years of existence, the meetings of “The Powerwomen” started to crumble apart. The once new task of entrepreneurship had started to feel like everyday life, their energy was fading and the first existence-threatening challenges had been taken brilliantly. Fewer and fewer women came to their meetings and one day they asked themselves the overall-question: “Why?” It meant everything. What is our matter of existence? What is our purpose? How can we reanimate our team spirit? What do we want to experience together? Once they began asking themselves these questions, they couldn’t stop their ideas popping out of their mouths. They wanted to do little workshops at the beginning of their meetings, discuss current and delicate business-matters, collaborate, get to know the work-places of the others and last but not least: Have a good time together.

Oddly, these were the exact words the “Strong Females” used to define for their meetings and goals only a few blocks away, without any knowledge of what was spoken at the table of “The Powerwomen”.

Both parties made big posters called “Vision Maps” with their ideas on it and hung them up at their locations. One sunny day, a “Strong Female” passed by the map of the “Powerwomen” and in a way of naïve and positive thinking she thought she might have found likeminded people and maybe future friends. She hardly could wait for the next meeting to introduce her so distinct idea of connecting these two groups and form one. Why not join forces? By doing so, the network would have grown a bit. Of course they would have to get to know each other in the first place, but then a bigger network meant more power, ideas and support too! The strong value of personal connectivity could have stayed through chatting times at the events and moreover – the group would not have been THAT big – it could even save the two groups of being a dying breed through more members in one place! What benefit would there be to organize two events with the exact same topics instead of one? It seemed ridiculous not giving it a try.

The Merge

The “Strong Females” were curious, but reserved when they first heard about that idea. In the end they decided to give it a try and opened their doors for the “Powerwomen” – but none of them came. Instead something remarkable happened – they didn’t show up at any event anymore and remained silent where they once wouldn’t stop telling their stories to one another. The network suddenly felt barren like a desert with only a hay bale passing by once in a while when some woman pose a question nobody would answer. The “Strong Female” who had had the idea of connecting the two groups noticed this and tried to arrange a second try. Everything would be better once they got to know each other personally, right? Suddenly it began to rumble and the “Powerwomen” started to speak up about everything they didn’t like anymore to her as well as to one another. Some of them even cut off all the leashes and left the group. It somehow felt like the “Powerwomen” were in danger of falling apart.


This is a true story. The naïve and positive woman – it was me. In my mind I couldn’t think of anything more logical and sense-making as bringing these two groups together. Through this whole process, I learned a lot about corporate culture I want to share here with you.

#1 Whenever change is wanted, management has to commit.

Without the support and authorization of the top of the company – nothing will change. In this case I wasn’t the manager, we were equal, Therefore it only showed up faster: As not everybody was involved in the decision of getting to know the other group, the members partly were not committed.

#2 Change has to be felt as an inner urge out of the people that are affected.

Will and power have to be created in the hearts of each and every person involved. Some will remain in resistance – this is good, each company needs people who preserve and defend what once was achieved. But it can never be the majority.

#3 Involve everybody.

It is not enough to write protocols of meetings only a few attended and provide this information. They will not feel the words written down, especially if it contains something important like upcoming changes in corporate structures. Resistance is guaranteed in this case. If a lot of them don’t seem interested in being involved, rather ask yourself: Why is this the case?

#4 Be passionate.

You really have to want what you say you want. Half-hearted actions will be punished immediately. Be prepared to spend your time and/or money in advance without knowing if it is going to work out. Just because you feel it is worth a try.


Of course these experiences differ from environment to environment and can’t be transferred on a 1:1 base from a professional network by choice to a corporate culture. But in fact, I think it makes the forces working visible more rapid and severe.

As a consultant: Be sure to scrutinize these issues in advance, before starting the change-process. Let management be aware they are a role-model and have to commit. Tell them that they really have to want this change process and that it needs time to create the inner urge of this change in their team, it will probably consume most of the time. Use methods that involve everybody and include those that want to take part in the process and need their time to be part of it. And whatever you do: Act full-heartedly.

In my case the process is still in progress. The “Powerwomen” have got the chance to take this energy of resistance and transform it into their re-birth. I so much wish them strength and luck on their way of doing it. Or maybe they decide that their time is over and that the purpose of the network was to strengthen each other at the beginning of their way into entrepreneurship. Both ways are good ones. However, it should be continued or closed clearly. For unfinished projects tend to dissipate energy without our knowledge.

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Systemic Consensus: The Future of Decision-Making

Yesterday I watched a movie about two merging innovation companies, both in programming business, but in different coding languages. They decided to merge in order to succeed with their shared vision, but argued about which programming language to choose, because they were not compatible. One or the other party would have had to step out of their comfort zone and trust. They had quite a hard time discussing it. I suddenly wondered, if they would have found a mutual way through Systemic Consensus.

The beauty of Systemic Consensus

If you don’t know the method already, let me try to explain Systemic Consensus to you by an example: If you are out with a couple of dear friends and looking for a suitable, nice restaurant to hang out. What do you do? Firstly, you probably decide on parameters like: In which city or district do you want to go out? What criteria matter? Should it be just around the corner or is the right ambiance more important to all of you, etc. etc.. Then you collect suggestions. Up until this point it is the normal way of decision-making we are already used to, right?

What comes next is the following: If someone is allergic to nuts in the group – „The Brownie-Factory“-suggestion will get resistance. Because if chosen, the one allergic to nuts would have to pass. Normally it will be important for the group that everyone gets the most possible joy out of this evening: So you may ask something like „Let’s go to xy – any objections?“ That’s where the magic happens.

Create win/win situations

In normal business situations there is one leading person or party deciding in the end. THIS person is responsible for the effort of gaining as much information as possible confirming the decision and will be held responsible for the then-made decision by him- or herself. Whereas Systemic Consensus demands responsibility from everyone in the group and the group takes the decision. It is not hardening fronts in contrast to common arguing practice. Instead of hardening one’s heart against the other opinion and defending it which leads to a typical win/lose-situation, you find a way to converge and finally succeed in a win/win-situation. And what’s best: It’s a quick method. Especially compared to the alternatives we are used to.

In my workshops, I try to use Systemic Consensus to find a way wherever it is suitable. However, three criterions are essential and have to be met:

  1. All parties have to have an interest in finding a win/win-situation
  2. All stakeholders have to take part in the process
  3. Overall conditions have to be clear: Knowledge of advantages and disadvantages of different solutions have to be shared and understood

Coming back to the movie I mentioned before: One party was emotionally bound to their solution which made them in no way interested in finding a win/win-situation in the first place. However, I strongly believe Systemic Consensus would have worked out though. It was an agile working company, they believed in the power of each and every person as valuable part who should be heard and it was no hot and hardened conflict then. As soon as the concerns or objections would have been spoken out, the others usually would have embraced the attitude and would have trusted the other party and therefore new solutions would have followed or existing ones would have been evaluated once more.

The bottleneck I am interested in

However, there is a bottleneck we have to bear in mind: Interest in gathering information. If we manage to find a way to interest people in exploring the world, gain information and take responsibility, we can get to a whole new level. So, whenever I do Design Thinking-Workshops without a given task, I ask one question: “How could people be made interested in information?” If you’d like to be part of one of the next workshops, mail me. I’d enjoy working it out with you.

Whoever is interested in getting to know more, here is a link to a detailed guide for Systemic Consensus provided by the „Institut für Systemisches Konsensieren in Graz“ in German. There are two links in English too, I’d like to recommend: One by hostingtransformation.eu, the other one by plays-in-business.com. Enjoy!