Winning Excellence: The leverage of woMen who lead

Three days before Easter-Sunday the police rang at our door, the officers looked at us and said: We are very sorry, but your father has passed away in a car accident.

This happened more than 35 years ago – at the time I just turned 20. For the mathematicians here right now - now you know how old I am …. you also know that I have many decades of experience.

Our life was turned upside down in an instant. The most important lesson I learned was – that there is a small difference between the words Women and Men but a huge difference in their meaning. I don't need to tell you that it was almost impossible for my sister - who is just two years older – and me to continue the company my father had run for decades before. The bank sent us home not caring for our ideas because of our gender. Instead of holding them responsible for our hardships, I remembered what my father always told us:

How to achieve peak performance

If you want to be excellent – you have to first start investing in - and learn to lead yourself.

So I started to invest in myself and in my personal journey: I studied economics and started a career as a TV anchorwoman covering global financial topics – Raphael, I hope you don’t mind me quoting you: “Everybody knew our TV-stockmarket show in Germany at the time” -  I also invested in my personal excellence by working with the best coaches in the world from the very beginning of my career. And by the way, I am still working with one of the world’s best coaches.

Focus on things you can control

At the same time I made three important life-decisions:

The first and most important decision was: I shifted my focus from sth I could not control – namely my gender - to sth I can control – my skills.

Now – think about: What do you have that is outside of your control that you could stop focussing on and what is something you can control that you could shift your focus to?

The key is: not complaining – shifting your energy into something you can control!

Yes, there is a difference by nature between women and men – luckily. But that's it. Being a TV-Anchorwoman for a magazine on global financial topics in the beginning of the 90ies meant that I was working in an almost 100% mens world. The moment I decided to shift my focus from gender to skills – everybody accepted me although I correspond 100% to the female stereotype: tall, blond - still blond with the help of my stylist though, I have to admit.

Focus on what is inside of you!

The second decision I made: I decided to focus on my character and its traits to increase my excellence. As surprising as it may be, I started off with little self-confidence which was reflected in my natural character... I worked hard on my transformation and am very grateful that I developed the excellence I have today.

My preference to spend time alone instead of being outgoing and talking to people has also always been a challenge for me. Even after working on them, these are still my character traits, but across my whole business life I worked consequently on strategies and new habits to transform myself by increasing my self-confidence to more easily interact with others

What do you think are character traits or competencies you should work on to transform yourself and win excellence?

Focus on the DOING!

Thirdly I have decided to develop my understanding of my personal development and business leadership to the cutting edge. Doing that allowed me to see a fuller vision for myself, the teams I work with, and my company. You all know the value of doing exercise, practising an instrument, or learning vocabs for a language…Why would you think a university degree, a resume outlining your experience, or a title such as Dr, Prof or Boss would keep you in a good leadership shape in a continually evolving business world?

An excellent leader is defined by her or his actions. Excellent leadership should be noticed. Leadership wasn't meant to be constrained in a box, hidden in your cubicle, or experienced only in the boardroom. Leadership is a lifestyle – it’s your Executive Presence – the way you walk, breathe, think, and behave when you leave and enter the doors of your business. Transformational Leadership means transforming yourself so that you can transform your company.

On my journey I learned that what defines a good leader isn’t whether they are right or wrong or because they're a man or a woman; they are good because of their willingness to learn and ability to  successfully lead.

What about today? I am here to encourage and challenge you, your business, and your organization to stretch beyond what you think is possible!

I have talked to more than a thousand leaders throughout my life, and I noted the key characteristics of those who are thriving and what they do differently. I also noted how these leaders transform themselves enabling them to grow to their potential.

My most valuable insight

My most valuable insight I want to share with you today:

The world is full theories on how to be the best leader, but the best way to learn how to lead might be right above your nose, quite literally. So, remember what my father said thirty five years ago: If you want to be excellent – start investing in - and lead yourself first.

Even if you have not lost your father or experienced any trauma in your private life or business, I guarantee you that in the future there will be a major challenge or disruption that you or your business will have to face and I invite you to think about how you can shift your focus from the things that are out of your control to those that are in your control.