When I decided to work as a consultant and interim manager, I first asked myself which core competencies I have that I can really use to support my clients. These certainly include first and foremost building international B2B sales, entering new markets, building and leading successful international teams as well as change management and transformation. Whether one’s own website is found by Google and listed as high up as possible depends, among other things, strongly on the keywords. You have to define the right keywords that best describe the content of your website or what you actually offer. So I asked myself, which keywords describe me best. This resulted in the following list.
1. Strategic inflection points
During my first eight years at Intel Corporation, Andy Grove was still CEO of the company. One of Andy’s theses, which I believe was also key to Intel’s success at that time, is that about the “Strategic Inflection Point.” A company reaches a strategic inflection point when the competitive landscape changes fundamentally, and this likewise requires a fundamental change in business strategy. In my professional career, I have repeatedly encountered this strategic inflection point, with all its implications, both positive and negative. You can only be successful in the long term if you constantly rethink, change and adapt your strategy. I think everyone can immediately think of many positive and also negative examples of companies for which strategic inflection points have decided about success or decline. However, changing strategy is also very much linked to profound changes in the organization. Here, a good management team is needed to plan and accompany these change processes and transformations.
2. The team
Success does not come from a good strategy and a good product alone. Only the team, motivated employees in the right positions and competent managers, who in turn can motivate and inspire, build the foundation for it. Teamwork and continuous organizational development are the basis of a successful company and ultimately determine success or failure. First, there is the question of which corporate culture and which organizational form you want to develop and implement. Then you need the famous “good hand” to find the right employees. “Right” here refers not only to the required professional competence, but also to the soft skills that fit into and enrich the corporate culture. The goal is then to retain employees in the long term. This means offering development opportunities and building an organization in which teamwork is encouraged and the success of the team comes before that of the individual. In an international environment, it is also important to promote and maintain team spirit across distances and time zones. Silo thinking, internal competition and political games should be nipped in the bud. And most importantly, how do I harness the innovative power of the entire organization?
For many managers it is difficult to let go and transfer responsibility or decision-making power to others. Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do”. Often the problem is compulsion to control and micromanagement, which in turn is based on a lack of trust. Why do I hire someone or promote someone into a management position if I don’t trust the person to be able to handle the corresponding responsibility? Delegating responsibility creates motivated and successful teams. Empowerment helps employees to develop and releases their full potential. Empowerment unleashes creativity and innovation. Most people want to be challenged, because that motivates them to give their best. But above all, empowerment also means trust. This trust will then turn into strong commitment, and ultimately you get that trust back.
Every team consists of individual people with individual characters, individual goals and individual desires. But there are also individual challenges, conflicts and problems that you as a manager are confronted with. Then you suddenly become more of a personal coach than just a supervisor. We all want to balance our professional and private lives and not lose sight of our own goals. In my opinion, long-term professional success is only possible if things in your private life also run smoothly, if you are at peace with yourself and, above all, if you do what you really want to do. To achieve this, you sometimes have to make decisions with major consequences and possibly turn your life upside down. You have to learn to cope with setbacks and deal with them in a positive way so that you can set new goals for yourself and look ahead with optimism. Supporting employees in this process is an important part of good leadership.
5. New Work
Flexible working models will become increasingly important in many areas and industries in the future. Offices are changing from buildings with fixed offices and workplaces to meeting places with various flexible work areas. However, especially when it comes to remote work, there are still two big concerns:
1. We lose (control, communication, the company culture, the team spirit,…)
2. We don’t know (how to organize virtual meetings, how to integrate new employees, the necessary technolgies and tools, the legal framework,…)
On the management side, unfortunately, the concerns are often still based on compulsion to control and micromanagement, sometimes also on resistance to use technology. On the employee side, it is rather the lack of self-management and experience. However, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages: individual arrangement of working hours, improvement of work-life balance, location-independent recruitment of new employees and less traffic on the roads during rush hours. Flexible working models, of course, also mean offering permanent workplaces for those employees who want or need them. In the end, flexible working models again have a lot to do with trust. For many companies, that still seems to be the biggest challenge.
6. “Good enough”
I still believe in the good old Pareto principle. Do we really need to always achieve 100% of everything, when just for the last 20% we need a multiple of the effort compared to what we spent on achieving 80%? Do we always have to plan everything in every little detail and consider all potential obstacles and problems? Original plans usually have to be adjusted several times on the way to the goal anyway – keyword “agile working”. You will (almost) never achieve the perfect result, never be able to plan everything 100% in advance or, for example, never find the perfect employee. In the end, it is always important to decide when something is simply “good enough”.
If you have read this article until here, if you can identify with it, if it feels “good enough” to you and you need consulting or interim management, feel free to contact me for a first non-binding discussion.