Who will hold the conversations with you? For more than 15 years with my research and practice, I have been helping organisations, teams and individuals in their journey to expand their leadership and followership capability. At present I am faculty for leadership at the Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom as an Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour and Director of the Henley Centre for Engaging Leadership and conduct my own consultancy work.
Don’t get me wrong: The stuff I am doing is rooted in research and practice. Some call them irreconcilable. To me one does not flourish without the other – it is more a dilemma to put up with than anything else.
My expertise has supported organisations and individuals who have been stuck with their businesses and leadership challenges. I address challenges around leadership such as creating and sustaining organizational energy for performance in organisations (be they units or senior management teams), expanding leadership and followership capacity, developing management teams, leading change, and challenging the identities we very personally as managers construct for leadership. Our most recent avenues are New forms, practices, and sources of engaging leadership as well as the CEO Brain Bank about CEO decision-making and identity, the latter with the help of neuroscience experts at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics CINN and the John Madejski Centre for Corporate Reputation. You cannot imagine how insightful and exciting these journeys are! I still always consider it as an honour to be asked into these deep, often very personal dynamics that occur amongst the people in and around organisations.
My leadership journey as a researcher, speaker and a facilitator of leadership learning, educator and capacity builder has brought me to nearly all continents (Australia still waiting to happen beyond Skype), working with a variety of learners and audiences for several global organisations and universities. With SMEs such as Ella’s Kitchen, an exciting organic baby food company, or Jenny Packham, the luxury fashion designer, to global companies such as Alstom, Lufthansa, Continental, or SAB Miller, I have worked across industries in FMCG, creative industries and others, which are fascinating for cross-industry learning. Retail seems to be coming back regularly with organisations such as Ticketmaster, Manor or Migros.
A Personal Journey
It may have all started when I was maybe 11 or 12 and my mum asked me if I wanted to run tennis lessons for young kids in our local club. Who could say No to this, working with your hobby for a few quid. Interesting for leadership, my own game – which might not have been excellent anyway –suffered a bit. My students got better while my capability got stuck.
20 years later, working for our book Fully Charged, I more formally connected the dots: By default at some point your performance becomes about making others perform, less so about your own performance in the expertise you coach and head up. Leadership as a relationship and process co-created by people shift the meaning of your own success and impact towards making others successful. I was struck by the experience early, but only learned much later the true meaning…
As mentioned above, after a number of home and international stints I am at present faculty for leadership at the Henley Business School. Born in Bremen, after school I did shift work for a year at the local production plants of Mercedes Benz and Jacobs Coffee. After two years at a local bank I started at the Leibniz Univerity f Hannover where I studied and did my PhD in Management. In 2002 I had this great opportunity to join the Organizational Energy Program (OEP) at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, where I was project leader and lecturer. A Visiting Scholar position brought for a stint to University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, before I started in 2009 at the Henley Business School.
One of the exciting activities here is that we have grouped ourselves as the Henley Centre for Engaging Leadership. Our latest book called “Fully Charged: How Great Leaders Boost Their Organization’s Energy and Ignite High Performance” is published by the Harvard Business Review Press. It is still fascinating and a deep honour when you receive emails from all over the world such as Charleston, USA, Stockholm Sweden, Sydney Australia, or just locally from a person supporting a charity in London, asking you how to proceed with some of the tools and thinking we have developed in this book.
I have also published in international top-tier academic journals, talking to the research community and getting challenged on latest thinking. One of the most exciting adventures is to write cases about some exceptional, but also challenging leadership practices. Over the years we have had Continental, Alstom Power Service, Lufthansa, and Ella’s Kitchen or others. And we are just about to start a case Study about Bild, Europe’s biggest newspaper, and its way of leading a digital transformation.
You could find me on Thinkers50.com and I was put on “Guru radar” in India’s Economic Times – well, whatever that means. Personally, I think educators as gurus are as wrong as leaders as gurus because both are co-created processes. But I like it as a compliment anyway – who wouldn’t?
The Multi-Facetted And Energizing Directions Of The Blog
Why is this blog out there?
- The Blog’s core aim is very simple: To be a hub to generate conversations, challenge, provoke and expand leadership thinking, developing and practicing.
- The blog works across boundaries of academia and practice incorporating the potential for fruitful tension and mutual leaning.
- The blog is a process with many relationships to hold on to and to generate a variety of views on leadership.
- Observation, highlighting, commenting,… Apparently, there is so much intriguing stuff out there and currently happening that we might not be short of opportunities to debate.
- The attitude is, let’s face it: We don’t want to duck out of interesting ideas and events and personal learning.
- Forgot to mention: Should be fun!
What are the themes the blog will touch on?
Starting from the notion that leadership is multi-facetted phenomenon this blog is by default pluralistic and looking at different avenues for what is moving and shaking in the world of leadership thinking and doing – without being arbitrary or random.
Don’t be surprised if we explore this with themes like leadership and followership, leadership that energises organisations and management teams, but also individuals, teams and networks, engaging leadership. Or what role this idea of leadership plays in people’s identity… to name but a few. You realise – all ideas, issues, events that look at leadership as a relationship, a process, a multi-faceted phenomenon that happens at various levels in organisations and society…
And obviously we touch on current ideas, issues, events which come cropping up around us and catch the attention of organisations, societal debates, and us as individuals.
Promise, there will be topics that we do not even envision yet.
What about your engagement?
The blog is like leadership – co-created. You wonder what I mean by that? Typically we think that successful leadership is about the leader. We have learnt this is a very one-sided view, if not dangerous and making organisations, managers, and employees vulnerable.
This blog is a co-created endeavour! Feel free to engage, comment, also share your experiences, challenge, have fun –within reason…! We are keen to hear what you have to say about leadership and what you might like to hear.