“We want to know where our deficits are.” That is what managers say to us again and again, especially the young ones with a desire to learn. We have seen this in other countries, too. Not just in Germany. When we then ask them what their strengths are, they’re surprised. They’re even more amazed when they discover that efficient leadership utilizes strengths and is not about “patching holes”. This is because it is much easier for people to improve the things they’re already good at. Making people aware of their strengths and talents builds up their self-confidence and motivates them to put their talents to use.

We feel that each individual must practice self-leadership and, in so doing, act as an example for those around them. This is critical when working with other people. Setting an example does not mean you’re perfect. It means you’re conscious of what you think, say and do and that you actively continue to grow and develop. Put into practice, this means that you’re honest to yourself and to others and that you use communication with others to realign your self-perception with how others view you.

Communication is very different in different cultures. I experienced this very clearly in Romania where groups often got into passionate debates in which participants kept interrupting each other.

It was enlightening for some managers to focus on the basic meaning of the word “dialog” and what they could learn from that: Developing meaning by using words in a step by step manner, each person taking a turn to speak while the others listen respectfully. The wonderful effect: Even in the fast world of IT, the managers’ dialog slowed down to let people really listen, come to an understanding together and learn to develop solutions.