The 1st Key: Leadership Competencies

Improvement of the leadership competencies, recruiting and keeping talented employees, defining the right objectives, focussing on the strengths of the employees and assigning the right and fitting role (function/task) to every single employee.


The most important asset of a company are excellent managers and employees.

That’s why recruiting and keeping talents is the manager’s most important task!


With regard to competitive advantages it is of upmost importance to find top talents for every single role and function and to tie them to the company in the long-term.


This includes in particular the creation of trust as basis for successful cooperation and thus by frankness, comprehension, integrity, loyalty and providing confidence.



«The 4 Milestones»

The following «4 Milestones» are decisive for successful management and leadership:

  • Recruiting and keeping Talents
  • Defining the right Objectives
  • Focussing on the Strengths
  • Assigning the right Roles


1.  Recruiting and Keeping Talents

Defining talents (gifts), searching and recruiting new talents, discovering the individual talents of the employees, and thus turning the potential of every single employee into performance.


Every excellently performed role requires, besides competencies (capabilities and skills), talent, because every role performed at excellence, requires certain recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behaviour. Excellent performances are not possible without talent.


The binding of talented employees over the long-term and hence of know-how and competencies but depends on the attractiveness of the workplace and this on the quality of the direct superior! The leadership qualities of the managers on all levels are therefore crucial for the long-term success of a company.


People don’t leave companies but their direct manager!

But if a company is bleeding people, it is bleeding value!


The attractiveness of the workplace, which is decisive for keeping talents on the long-term, can be measured by the following twelve criteria evaluated by the employees:


The 12 Criteria

1. I know what is expected of me.

2. I have the right tools and equipment I need to do my work right.

3. Every day I have the opportunity to do what I do best.

4. In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise for good work.

5. My superior does care about me as a person.

6. There is someone who encourages my development.

7. I believe that my opinions count.

8. The mission, philosophy and objectives of my company make me feel like my job/work is important.

9. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work.

10. I have a best friend at work.

11. In the last 6 months, someone has talked to me about my progress.

12. In the last year, I had the opportunity to learn new things and to grow.


For the selection of the right managers, questions like the following should be asked:

  • «As a manager, which would you rather have: an independent, aggressive person who produced $1.2 million in sales or a congenial team player who produced about half as much? Please explain your choice.
  • «You have an extremely productive employee who consistently fouls up the paperwork. What would you do?»
  • «You have two managers. One has the best talent for management you’ve ever seen. The other is mediocre. There are two openings available: the first is a high-performing territory, the second a territory that is struggling. Neither territory has yet reached its potential. Where would you recommend the excellent manager be placed and why?»


While searching and discovering talents it is important to distinguish between:

  • Striving Talents – the Why and the Desires of a person
  • Cognitive Talents – the How and the Thinking of a person
  • Relating Talents – the Who and the Social Behaviour of a person


2.  Defining the Right Objectives

Great managers set clear performance expectations, define the right, important and achievable objectives, but let each employee find his own path there. Trust should not be earned by the employees, but should be given by the manager.


The way should never overshadow the target!


Firm rules should only be defined fort he following aspects:

  • Ethics
  • Accuracy
  • Safety
  • Standards


The most important and hence right objectives are:


1.     Customer satisfaction

2.     Employee turnover

3.     Productivity

4.     Profitability


However, it should be noted, that productivity and profitability are the products of the first two objectives customer satisfaction and employee turnover.


In order to achieve highest possible customer satisfaction, the following cross-business customer expectations must be fulfilled:

  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Availability
  • Partnership
  • Advice


To define the right objectives it is important to have the ablility to permanently adapt the corporate strategy to constantly changing conditions, i.e. strategic agility.

Management and objective achievement by communication of ambitious objectives visions, dreams!


A great manager should not only have analytical and strategic skills, but also imagination, fantasy, flexibility, optimism as well as a healthy degree of naivety. Furthermore he has to consider the ideas of dissidents as being opportunities and he has to be able to listen and observe.


«So that the possible can occur, the impossible must be attempted again and again!»

(Hermann Hesse)


For more information about performance management see Performance Management.



3.  Focussing on the Strengths

Every person has strengths and weaknesses. Every person is unique. The willingness to individualize, to treat every single employee individually and the adaptation of the leadership style to the specific situation and to each individual employee are therefore crucial for the motivation of the employees and hence for the achievement of top-class performance.


Don’t treat people as you would like to be treated, but rather as he/she would like to be treated, bearing in mind who he/she is.


Great managers invest in their best people, carve out for them a unique set of expectations, highlight and perfect their unique style, create for them more relief and freedom and serve them as best they can. For they know that this is the only way to reach excellence.


People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.


In case of relevant weaknesses they find a way around the employee’s weakness, they build a «bypass». There are but 3 possibilities for it:


1. devise a support system;

2. find a complementary partner;

3. find an alternative role.


«I want to find what is special and unique about each person. If I can find it, and help them see it, then they will keep digging for more.»

(Manager of an advertising company)



4.  Assigning the Right Roles

The issue here is the development and «rewarding» of the employees as well as to assign to the right people the right roles and functions and the right managers and leaders.


If you want to turn talent into performance, you have to position each person so that her activity matches her talents. You have to cast her in the right role.


Casting for talent is hence one of the unwritten secrets to success of great managers.


As for promotions, don’t promote people out of their level of competence and performance. An excellent salesman, for instance, isn’t necessarily a good sales manager.


Provide alternatives to promotions for excellent employees, innovative ways toward growth, more prestige and higher income. Such alternatives are for example the upgrading of every single function, activity and role by creating levels of achievement, the award of internal titles or the implementation of broadbanding and performance-oriented pay plans and systems.


«When I’m finished with my work, I lie on the guest’s bed and turn on the ceiling fan. If dust is raised, then I haven’t done my job well. No matter how sparkling clean the rest of the room is. We are always on stage, are our company’s calling card. We make a show for our guests. A decoration show with the children’s toys, with room items, towels etc. Every day another one.»

(An excellent room attendant)


A manager has got to remember that he is on stage every day. His people are watching him. Everything he does, everything he says, and the way he says it, sends off clues to his employees. These clues affect performance, positively, as well as negatively.


Great managers always respect the following principles:

  • Make each person comfortable with who they are.
  • Create an environment were people are encouraged to be more of who they already are.
  • To manage people you have to know them, their style, their motivation, their personal situation.
  • Treating people differently is part of helping them feel unique.
  • Pick the right people, and once you’ve picked them, trust them.
  • Don’t overpromote people.
  • Never pass the buck.
  • Make few promises to your people, but keep them all.


A great manager has to be active, he has to play along rather than just watching. It is like in sports: a spectator has the least impact on the course of things!


Great managers have the following competencies/skills:

  • Manage change (change management)
  • Self-knowledge
  • Planning competence
  • Compelling vision
  • Inspiration
  • Strategic agility
  • Troop rallying
  • Risk taking
  • Leadership competence
  • Assertiveness
  • Process competence
  • Controlling competence
  • Target and result orientation
  • Costs awareness
  • Marketing intelligence
  • Manages diversity
  • Broad perspective
  • Performance orientation
  • Calm under fire
  • Interpersonally sensitive


Resulting Client Benefits

    • You have the right leaders, managers and employees in the right roles and functions
    • You increase the performance of management, employees, teams and departments and hence of your entire company on all levels
    • You improve the leadership competencies on all levels
    • You set the right objectives
    • You improve the motivation, quality, cooperation and satisfaction of your people on all levels
    • You have a low personnel turnover
    • You increase competencies, know-how and company value