"The future of our companies is digital" - at least that's the message you can read everywhere right now. "But when I go into companies today as a manager, I see people there," Markus Paul introduces his talk at the "New Faces Night" at the Volksbühne am Rudolfplatz. "I ask myself, who is the digital future for? It's being created by us humans, after all!"
Markus Paul is an executive trainer and always has a handful of questions to answer in his job. "For example, how should we lead this digital future? I would like to talk more about that during my talk. Because the topic has been on my mind for quite a while. I was an organizational developer in a mid-sized company. My job was to help them get to the front of the pack. The company wanted to use digitalization to position itself profitably, sustainably. For my concept, I went from executive to executive - to talk to them about the ideas."
"I got stuck with one executive. This person had two-thirds of the staff under him. I suspected he had a long lever. We had a conversation about change. As we talked about it, he typed something into his cell phone. Then he turned the display to me. He showed me a timer. The headline said 'retirement countdown'. And the manager said to me: 'Oh, Mr. Paul, I can still get this time around,'" says Markus Paul.
"No, I don't accept it like that!" was his first impulse. "I had a completely different opinion about 'change.' I just learned something different about that. That was many years ago. And I'd like to tell you this story: A young woman, in her early 20s, pregnant with her second child and married. Everything seems perfect. Until she finds out a few weeks later that her husband has been cheating on her for a long time. Suddenly she was alone with her children. This made her angry and sad. But the single mother fights through it."
"One day she meets a new man. Both fall in love with each other. Suddenly the man is faced with the decision of whether he is willing to take responsibility for the two children as well as the woman - even though he doesn't have to at all. The man decides to do so. The couple married and had two more children of their own. He never made a distinction between them. To the father, all four were his own children. The offspring were to want for nothing. This man is my personal hero - my dad!", Markus Paul describes the story quite proudly.
He gave this lesson to his son Mark Paul for the leadership world. Mark's father said:
Take responsibility for your employees - as if they were your own children!
"Today I am a manager myself and am responsible for a team of over 80 people. That is not always so easy. There are a lot of expectations in the room," admits the speaker. Stepstone brought out a leadership survey in 2018. They asked over 1,000 employees what they expect from their manager:
Employees want leadership with meaning, goals and values.
"And where there are great expectations, of course you're going to be tested. That's what happened to me. I was standing at the ironing board that Friday morning, ironing my shirt for work. Meanwhile, I'm watching a segment of GEDANKENtanken on YouTube. I'm listening to Frank Thelen's words. He talks about how the eight most valuable digital companies together are already four times as valuable as all 30 DAX companies combined. Nevertheless, there is no German company among these eight. Frank Thelen appealed that German companies must finally get into gear, because otherwise we as a country will lose out."
Markus Paul thinks about Frank Thelen's lecture: "How can I drive the issue forward with my team?" he asks himself. A few hours later, the executive is sitting in his office. Markus remembers: "There's a knock at the door. I quickly notice that something is wrong. The two female employees didn't know what to do. They felt bullied by their boss. He yelled at them. Every day. The team is now afraid of him - of being hit on the head again. I promised the women I'd talk to my colleague and we'd find a solution."
"While I'm alone in my office again, I think back to Frank Thelen's talk. Digitization? I think I know why we Germans are not making any progress on this topic. Because we still have a really big issue to solve in the leadership world....
Markus Paul is also an engineer. So he set out to find the solution: "Why is it that so many managers don't know how to lead their employees? Markus discovered something exciting. There are three reasons that already take place when hiring managers:
Markus Paul is also a lecturer at a university where he teaches engineers. "They need three years to get their bachelor's degree. But the curriculum doesn't include a single lesson on communication and leadership. It is simply not provided for," he criticizes. In Germany, employees usually have five to eight qualification days a year. But even then, the topic of leadership comes up far too short.
Markus Paul tells you how you can become a top manager with these qualities.
Stand up for people you really care about. "You can be that person for your employees. Make sure that our companies have the right foundation from now on, so that we can really look to the future with success," encourages Markus Paul. "Then digitization is a piece of cake!"