Business and Experience Report 2022 – 2023


In this experience and business report you will read:

Strategy Execution

Development in shutdown: How executives find stability in exceptional business situations – and grow in the process.

Executive Coaching and Mediation

Icy team climate: Narcissistic distress of individuals as a trigger for cooperation disorders.

Searching or hammering? Why coachees want to work more on themselves than just on the problem.

Business Development

Process Consulting as a growth driver | Sales figures by interventions

Outlook for 2024


With LIVE YOUR STRATEGY [LYS] I am active in the business areas of executive coaching and strategy implementation. I support companies, business units, teams and key player in achieving individual and corporate goals.

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


How executives find stability in exceptional business situations

Every entrepreneurial activity always involves the risk of failure. And, of course, all companies are working to minimize this risk. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to observe these days that corporate units, service functions, entire production plants with a considerable number of employees have to deal with a radical realignment, their sale or even their closure.

In one case (of risk prevention), I initially accompanied the managers of a production plant with the aim:

  1. to become faster,
  2. reduce bureaucracy,
  3. radically digitize,
  4. to be more conscious and mindful of yourself, your colleagues, your customers.

However, the general conditions changed quickly; after a decision by the parent company, there was suddenly talk of phasing out production or selling the plant.

In addition to a series of carefully prepared two-way communication events (management and workforce in dialogue), we implemented, among other things:

  1. Experience exchange rounds for the first management levels in the company. Key questions: How do we personally experience the situation? How do we experience our employees? What does it take now to live up to our role? What do we need from our leaders?
  2. “Pit Stops” in the management team: Which observation of the last week is important for me to share (plant / we as a team / me personally)? What’s on top? What should we bring to the table that needs to be clarified now?
  3. Individual coaching reflect on and overcome personal and role-related challenges.

All these interventions were voluntary. We have refrained from any form of ordered reflection.

Motto: Whoever comes is in the right place here.

In retrospect, I can pay the highest respect to the managers of this client. So I was able to observe everything that makes up good leadership in terms of relationship building and providing orientation in their daily business. And I was able to learn something else: it takes role-, professional- and life experience to deal constructively with critical corporate situations together. There is no need for broad-based leadership development programs to overcome the crisis.

Instead, we need open dialogue between people who are important to each other at the right time.

From site closure to a new start

In another case a radical downsizing – with a significantly reduced workforce – became an unwanted reality for the management cadre.

What leadership tasks follow from this situation?

The professional task of managers in restructuring is to:

  1. fulfil the delivery obligations, until the “last day”,
  2. end the activities in the plant in an orderly manner or to make a smooth new start with the remaining workforce.
Bridges Managing Transitions
Managing Transitions

From a psychological, emotional point of view (see graphic), it is important to remain capable of acting and to bring at least some order to the exceptional emotional situation, because:

  1. for the psychological transition phases “Endings”, “Neutral Zone” and the “New Beginnings” (cf. Bridges 2016), answers must be found in the management team.
  2. Even if they are affected themselves and often experience a crisis of trust in their employer, managers will have to learn to absorb or overcome the given emotionality (powerlessness, shock, grief, rejection, decreasing commitment) in the workforce. They learn to give employees support without letting themselves be “rolled over” by it.

Creating room for reflection – supporting personal growth

How can leaders face that challenge appropriately, namely:

  1. dealing with their own emotionality,
  2. become aware of the new parts of their leadership role and
  3. their changing leadership tasks?

Here, too, we have professionally supported the managers in their leadership work through suitable offers such as team supervision and individual coaching.

Even if the situation seems difficult to bear, dealing with it can very well lead to personal growth.

In this case, the managers at different levels got to know and appreciate a simple but effective leadership principle that can give people orientation in deep transitions. This refers to the shepherd principle (Foucault), which contributed to the development of the pastorate in Christianity at that time. If we subtract the religious and paternalistic aspects from this (employees are not sheep …) and apply it to transformations in companies, it says that two leadership functions can support the individual.

  1. Offering interpretation: The manager who repeatedly communicates and explains the given company situation and its development transparently into the depth and breadth of the organization, provides justification and legitimacy – not from the pulpit, but in dialogue.
  2. Offering individual support: The manager who specifically takes care of each individual case.

That’s all it takes? Lived across the management levels and carried into the workforce, in my view it is exactly what gives people the necessary support and is able to save the rest of their loyalty to the company.

People need containment – and someone has to be willing to offer it.

Personal growth on the part of managers arises when they can understand, practice and offer their  important “containing function” (cf. Giernalczyk, Möller 2018) as an acute part of their  role without becoming over-responsible / over-identifying with their team. They learn to make themselves available without being swamped by the emotional states of others and only then to be really helpful.

This is especially true for top executives. As long as communication, relationship building and genuine support are ensured, then it becomes more likely that the managers reporting to them will be able to perform the emotional balancing act between a crisis of trust and a new identification with their employer. However, if top executives come across as strategic, distant, not very sincere or try to withdraw, then sometimes only the coach is left who can perform a holding function. However, explaining, legitimizing, or even preaching company decisions is explicitly not his job.


What topics were important in coaching and mediation in 2022/23?

1. Icy team climate: Narcissistic needs of individuals as a trigger for cooperation disorders

In my search for the causes of cooperation disorders, I have come across narcissistic accentuations in individual team members as well as managers several times in recent months. The situation was characterized by devaluations of the other person, little to no accessibility for feedback, unspoken breaks in contact with the person in question. Now we are dealing with a systemic event in teams. And so, as a coach, I pay careful attention to recognizing negative attributions to individuals (scapegoat roles)  and, if possible, making them workable. And yet I had to learn:

A single team member in narcissistic distress (Eidenschink, 2024) has the influence to bring team collaboration to a standstill.

It’s like skating on ice, as one team member described it. With colleagues in narcissistic distress, they work as if on tiptoe, put on kid gloves or, best of all, no contact appears to be the best choice. Those who courageously give feedback are devalued, those who want to help are pushed away. Narcissists leave others behind, they make others suffer without them being aware of it.

Team development takes place in a group setting. In my experience, however, working with people in narcissistic distress in the communicative stress of a group session is too risky; the known patterns would repeat themselves – possibly with increased sharpness – and manifest the cooperation disorder.

How can it still work?

I have made good experiences with the following process:

  1. Ideally, the person engages in individual coaching and finds the confidence to recognize and name the behavioral and interaction patterns that he or she stumbles upon. However, any further in-depth reflection of this person’s behavior and experience would be more therapeutic.
  2. Variant: In another case, it has proven helpful to divide the roles of team mediator and individual coach between two experts.
  3. The responsible manager actively intervenes in the process and carries out intensive management work (tightly timed dialogues, well-dosed feedback to the person concerned).
  4. Coach and manager coordinate closely and do not succumb to the temptation to blame each other when sustainable progress is a long time coming. Situations like these create feelings of helplessness that need to be endured. Clarifications of expectations in the process ensure that this can succeed.

For example, in one case of team mediation, real progress was made after some time. A clarifying, moderated team meeting has become possible. The mood there fluctuated between peaks of tension and relief, and the result of the work can best be formulated as follows:

“The tension is still palpable – but the basis for work has been restored for the time being.

A huge achievement by everyone involved.

How will we deal with narcissism in the future?

The company’s internal actors, such as managers, HR, internal personnel developers, are faced with the task of first recognizing the situation as such and then acknowledging that it can hardly be solved with the usual means of HR work. Very often, the phenomenon complex of narcissism is “worked around”, attempts are made to counteract it with value workshops and satisfaction surveys – without radical success. Instead, a clinical-therapeutic level of information would be required here, which is usually not available in the company. HR, personnel developers, executives and, last but not least, coaches cannot avoid striving for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of narcissism. That would be an important first step.

2. Searching or hammering? Coachees want to work on themselves, not just on the problem.

I have learned something surprising in the last two business years, namely that coachees, especially those who are experienced in coaching, are less and less willing to come to a solution to their problem via the relevant coaching methods. Instead, they are interested in a good dialogue close to their objectives, especially close to their person with their potentials, behavioral and thought patterns that they are trying to decipher.

As formulated as the coaching methods have become, they reveal a weak point – methods bring a noticeable distance into the coaching relationship and overspeed, sometimes overstructure the joint process of finding solutions. The methodological tools are placed between the coach and the coachee as well as the coachee’s desire to explore himself. In this respect: If you equated coaching methods with a hammer, then the sentence would apply:

The hammer only knows the nail, not necessarily the client.

What instead?

Open the reflection space. Coachees are increasingly appreciating simply speaking freely, questioning themselves, associating, creating images, expressing hypotheses, using analogies from feature films and documentaries, in short:  taking cross-country paths to solutions. Without the pressure of having to get from A to B quickly, because they know this pressure well enough from their daily business.

Pretty competent; because:

In the search for oneself, solutions usually come all by themselves.


The majority of sales in recent years have been generated with follow-up orders from the pool of long-standing existing customers. I was able to find new customers, among others:

  • a production unit of an international mechanical engineering group,
  • a division of a specialty chemicals company,
  • a leading European company in the field of environment and waste management, and
  • a renowned engine manufacturer in the automotive industry.

Sales were more than satisfactory over the past 24 months, with the result that the annual results were well above the long-term average.

Process Consulting as a growth driver

Process Consulting is – similar to interim management – the accompaniment of a company in the area of organizational development and change on a temporary basis.

Sales by Inerventions

Companies that are facing far-reaching changes would do well to purchase professional support over a longer period of time.

If there is no internal consulting unit available, then external process consulting is the model of choice.

Process consultants work directly at the customer’s site, not just in the conference room of the seminar hotel. Process Consultants are close to the day-to-day business of the acting top executives, are available for coaching, moderation, strategy development processes, initiate the appropriate working groups at the appropriate time, implement change projects, are available on site and support in setting goals when it is needed – not weeks later.

After some time, process facilitators know their way around the company’s engine room and have their ear to the rails. This is a decisive advantage in the fast-moving transformation business, as it means that even ad hoc important topics can be taken up and made workable.


I am optimistic about the current financial year. Although we are under the auspices of interest rate concerns, high energy prices and anticipated recession (among all the other risk factors), I perceive a great willingness on the part of my clients to overcome these. Current orders for accompaniment:

  1. of leadership teams and individual executives in change projects,
  2. the (overdue) redesign of an important service department,
  3. a radical new beginning in the context of a restructuring

make me very confident. And in terms of content, there is 100% certainty a lot to work through, discover and learn. I guess it’s going to be an exciting and challenging year.

I wish all readers of this annual and experience report a colourful spring!

With best regards from Cologne,

Andreas Liebrecht

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