Dear reader,
the e-mail from this tech firm in Vienna was a call for help. They engaged us spontaneously. What had happened? The Board of Management had sworn its entire management to difficult times. There had been workshops and seminars on how challenging the general conditions were, how threatening the market, and how little progress had been made in digitization. The most sophisticated (and expensive) tools had been introduced to make "agility" very concrete and to make the desired change in behaviour urgent. And then – something went wrong. People were not impressed, they turned to their routine, the management continued to lead as usual. There was no lack of methods, meetings and opinions, only lack of change. No active resistance, they rather felt "everything quite o.k." – "there ARE successes" – "we hear the admonishing messages, only ... no idea what the board expects".

No big surprise for us. Negative scenarios and the swearing in of difficult times lead to people not listening.

They have absolutely no desire to learn which greater efforts the board is expecting of them. Demanding change and greater effort from others are a destructive portent. Even if people are not cynical, it is impossible for them to take such talk seriously. Creating a threat scenario and explaining in detail all the urgently necessary changes in behaviour always have the opposite effect.

With this mindset, board members lead the change process:

1. Board members stop treating the new as a "goal". Instead, they learn to trust their existing influence of their attitude and behaviour on others.

2. They are aware of their own communication and behavioural patterns. They know exactly, which of their individual habits are unconsciously copied by their teams. They actively use this effortless power; they accept their habits being the only impactful role model for change.

3. They communicate the broader context and purpose of every of their gestures, rituals, decisions, activities: "I am sending you a copy of this e-mail because I am determined to raise your success in sales to an even higher level and because I know you can do that." "I have invited Professor Example for I know you will do everything you can to use her research approach for the sales support that is crucial for us."

4. They know that every philosophical or model-based talk about change has no impact whatsoever. Change is always highly personal. The only impactful message is their visible behaviour that shows their personal passion and purpose.

5. Change requires personal learning from each individual board member, it cannot be achieved by delegation. The influence of the board members on the behaviour of subsequent levels is NOT developed during event marathons, but through resonance in personal experience: in conference calls, meetings, e-mails, etc.

6. Implementing change requires courage. If board members make sales success an absolute priority, they must do the same for their supervisory boards, which at any moment may have completely different wishes, such as wanting to have the next annual budget immediately, five-day`s attendance at an award ceremony in Johannesburg or an evaluation of all managers. Or all at once. "Unfortunately no...". That, too, has to be learned.

It`s all about the learning mode of the board members. If they don`t show their learning mode, everything goes on as before. If the board learns, everyone learns.

The feeling of „nothing new“ is a powerful and permanent brake created by board members who are unwilling to change their personal thinking and communicating routines. All these tools and methods like Scrum or Design Thinking or Kanban or large group participation or or or ... will then be ineffective. People feel whether board members themselves feel differently, act differently and therefore their everyday life is clearly different. Recognizably different – in the direction in which it should go.

Words must be different, too. The desired new mode needs a name, a brand that identifies the purpose and perspective behind it. Then it will become clear: we all have to prove ourselves in a wider range. We have to professionalize ourselves, open up to international comparison, to international quality standards, etc. Aha, so that is how it works. We want to grow beyond our borders.

Why do board members think they are in a learning mode all the time, and actually they are not? The brain loves routines and habits, in times of success or crisis. So they walk in the wild mountains and think and brood and analyse … or they talk for hours and hours … or they engage McKinsey experts, whatever habits they prefer. Their brains prefer to approach problems cognitively, with models and theories, because this is familiar territory. Old certainties are nourished by past successes. And when nothing else works, it calms down with work and work, that always flatters the ego "I really gave everything". Change requires emotional learning, that is why it is so difficult, that is why they gladly delegate it.

To get back into the learning mode, that is the content of our board consulting. This is the ideal way to bring about change.

We are with you.
Dorothea Assig und Dorothee Echter

                            Assig + Echter

Assig und Echter sind die Beraterinnen für das internationale Topmanagement, für herausragende Persönlichkeiten und ambitionierte Organisationen. Sie geben die entscheidenden Impulse für mehr Wirkungsmacht, Reputation und Einfluss. Mit ihrem Ambition Management, einem radikal neuen Ansatz, der den intrinsischen Antrieb und die Größe der einzelnen Persönlichkeiten in den Mittelpunkt stellt, erreichen Unternehmen Innovationskraft, Agilität und nachhaltigen wirtschaftlichen Erfolg.
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Urheberrechte: Dorothea Assig und Dorothee Echter

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Inhaltlich verantwortlich:

Dorothea Assig, Herausragende Karrieren
Jagdstraße 3, 80639 München, Deutschland, T. 089 15 70 41 75

Dorothee Echter, Topmanagement.Wissen.Weltweit
Westenriederstraße 8, 80331 München, Deutschland, T. 089 54 66 21 00