Executive CoachingGeneralStrategy Execution

Business and Experience Report for the Year 2020

Kick Start 2021

LIVE YOUR STRATEGY is my brand with which I am active in the business areas of executive coaching and strategy implementation.  I support companies, business units, teams and key players in achieving business and individual goals.

1. BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

My clients include internationally active large and medium-sized companies, currently in the automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical, energy supply and engineering sectors.

Last year’s majority of sales were generated with follow-up orders from the pool of existing customers. I was able to attract new customers, amongst others,

  • another business unit of the automotive division of an industrial group,
  • a provider of engineering solutions for the biotech-industry,
  • a division of an international chemical group and
  • another department of an international energy supplier.

 Sales were ultimately satisfactory over the 2020s despite a three-month forced break due to lockdown and customer cancellations. Like so many other colleagues, I also drove on sight – but not completely without strategy – and could use the time-out to put my consulting services on “digital feet”. So, I am pleased that the annual result is still in the long-term average despite all the ups and downs last year.

Growth in executive coaching

This highly individualized and effective form of consulting has become the driver of my sales.  2019‘s trend has fortunately continued.

Sales by Sectors

 2. FROM STRATEGY EXECUTION

2.1 Innovation needs space needs cultural development

Energy companies are driving the shift towards green energy and decarbonization. Parts of their business models are thus facing a fundamental change. Traditional business units will make a smaller contribution to the business in the future, and new businesses will have to prove their impact. Tradition meets innovation strategy – and that does something to the corporate culture, the (un-)written rules of the game, as well as with the people involved, the top managers and executives. In those times you are logically asking yourself a question:

If our innovation strategy is to be successful,

are we in relation to our “ways of working”, our culture then still properly positioned?

 

Cultural factor “Predictability”

In other words: “If we have so far been guided by predictability and processes with many “checks &   balances” (procedures are in line with the Group’s guidelines in the matrix and are safely – albeit comparatively slowly – carried out), how can we succeed today to create the space for innovation, idea generation, smaller, incremental projects (which are faster in implementation and are important for the future, but rather uncertain in the outcome)?

Cultural factor “Innovation”

In an exciting – 100% virtually designed – project for cultural development, leaders and employees – highly engaged – have collected more than 300 ideas for influencing several cultural traits (e.B. clarity of our vision, managing change, effective leadership, cooperation and coordination, dealing with risks).

The consistent message from those involved was:

“Let’s create space for innovation, abandon lengthy processes, try out more, experiment, communicate even better about the ongoing change, really pass on control and empower the team, be courageous and accept “new ways of working” and … be aware of the side effects. ”

My task was:

  • development of concepts for the cultural analysis and
  • coaching the executives in the strategic workstream “culture” (3 leaders 1 HR member)
  • the moderation of two executive workshops and sixteen employee workshops to assess the perspectives of all members of the organization and to involve them in the

At present, the results of the cultural analysis are being condensed and prepared for a decision in the management circle. I am very curious to see what concrete measures the parties will have agreed on.  Whatever it will be, the spirit of wanting to break new ground is very strong in leadership and employees, I guess. A good ground for bringing the silent imperative: “Make it predictable” into a new productive balance.

What I have learned

The following also applies to projects for cultural change: a tight strategy connection is a success factor. I do not think that this project would have developed so much momentum if we had formulated it as an end in itself. The connection to the decarbonization strategy gave the project meaning and the necessary sense of urgency.

2.2 Plant closure requires leadership

The automotive sector, OEMs and suppliers are once again in a profound state of change. Reinforced by pandemics, cost pressure and sales decline, as well as production relocations deemed necessary, the industry in some parts sees itself called for downsizing. Some operational units are no longer about restructuring (something that everyone involved has known well enough for decades), much more at stake, namely the closure of a plant, something that everyone had feared but never wanted to see, and which, despite all the prophecies of doom, had never come true in the past).

In the event of a plant closure, which I accompany (this is also part of the business of the organization and personnel development expert), my customer decided to accompany the leaders involved in the closure process to not leave them alone.

The message is: A plant closure calls for leadership

Why this? In order not to make it just happen with the parties involved. What can happen if you just let it happen? Then the leaders’ balancing act between keeping the plant running until the end (how should I now expect performance from my employees?) and on the other hand trying to remain committed (my age, my future, my motivation?) will likely tear them apart, namely: internal termination, unregulated exit, “fist in the pocket”, burn out, feelings of senselessness. No one can ever lead like that.

My task is:

  • In confidential 1:1 coaching I encourage managers (production managers, foremen, shift leaders, indirect managers) to name their conflicts, sort them out together, and come to solutions.
  • At the same time – more from a helicopter perspective – I ensure a consistent, transparent flow of information (in the right mix of one- and two-way communication).

I do not reach all the leaders with my coaching offer, admittedly, which is of course of voluntary nature. Realistically, there are about 20% of the management team who chose not to take part in our coaching initiative, some of them cancel appointments last minute, others present themselves in an “everything is under control” mode. So far, so normal.

What I am happy about:

But what is really striking is the many leaders who take care of their workforce and have an eye on them, notice when someone “hangs the wings”, respond to it, ensure transparency and the flow of information, especially in turbulent times. They are the ones who take up a coaching and appreciate it, knowing: “… finally it’s about me.” I will certainly not forget an O-tone from a responsible shift leader with a backbone.  He said, “We’ve all picked the leadership job, now we have to do it.” Respect!

3. FROM EXECUTIVE COACHING AND MEDIATION

Which topics were important in coaching and mediation in 2020?

  • I mediated in the event of a cooperation disturbance during company sale process between the management and the works council,
  • dealt with several work-overload issues with different backgrounds with about a handful of executives, key question: “How do I get back into the driver’s seat?“.
  • accompanied experienced leaders to weigh up and plan their next career steps,
  • provided unfiltered feedback to those leaders whose working relationship with their teams had been disturbed.

My learnings

I have learned something tried and tested, namely that disturbances, no matter what nature, take precedence, consume hearts and space, sometimes a lot of space, so that there is increasingly less room for the actual leadership tasks. A leader with aspirations cannot afford this. So, it is all the more beautiful to see when coachees courageously name their conflicts. In coaching – the opposite of daily business – work is then again on the future. You only have one professional life, and that wants to be designed.

4. OUTLOOK

I am optimistic about the current financial year. Although we are still under the sign of pandemic and partial lockdown, I perceive a lot of creativity and the will to transform with my customers. Current requests for accompaniments

  • of annual Leadership Meetings,
  • of team developments with the aim of sorting and clarifying what was left aside,
  • of a reorientation of the department (are we still in the driver’s seat?) and
  • the continuation of another strategic project in product development,
  • a performance project, in which I can help with my methods from Organizational and Personnel Development that the company gets back into the profit zone again in the medium term, including
  • the ongoing projects from 2020,

make me feel very confident. I think this year will turn out to be a good year.

I wish all readers a fantastic spring!

With the best greetings from Cologne,

Andreas Liebrecht

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