Embracing Change with a Human Touch: A Leader’s Choice

We all know THE one element that remains a constant driving force: CHANGE! However, leading change effectively requires more than just strategic planning and implementation; it demands a human touch. As leaders and decision-makers, the challenge lies in not just navigating change, but in doing so in a way that engages and inspires your teams. Based on the learnings of years working with teams and organizations in transformation, this article delves into the essence of human-centric leadership in change management, offering insights and practical steps to make your transformation journey more successful and powered by the people.

The Power of Human-Centric Leadership

History and modern business provide numerous examples of leaders who have successfully blended rational decision-making with a deep understanding of human emotions and needs. From Alexander the Great’s ability to inspire unwavering loyalty to contemporary CEOs who prioritize emotional intelligence, the lesson is clear: effective leadership relies on the ability to connect on a human level. In the modern corporate environment, more and more leaders are increasingly recognizing (and truly living up to it) that the so-called ‘soft skills’ – empathy, understanding, and emotional intelligence – are not just complementary or “nice-to-have” but truly essential to making any project or endeavor a success.

In an age where data and technology drive many business decisions, AI is rising daily and the pressure of time seems to be omnipresent, the human element can sometimes be overlooked. However, organizations are made up of people, and it’s people who drive change and innovation. A leader skilled in human-centric skills can tap into the collective strengths and motivations of their team, fostering an environment where change is not just accepted but embraced.

Human-Centric Transformation in Modern Organizations

In the realm of organizational change, a human-centric approach is more than just a nice-to-have; it’s a critical success factor. Leaders in the digital age are faced with complex challenges that involve integrating new technologies and processes. To navigate these successfully, a vision that resonates with and is embraced by the entire organization is essential.

However, creating this vision and making it a reality requires more than just top-down directives. It demands an inclusive approach where leaders step out of the proverbial ivory tower and engage with teams at all levels. This involves understanding the fears, motivations, and aspirations of the people who will be most affected by the change. Leaders must co-create the change narrative with their teams, ensuring that it’s not just a corporate mandate but a shared journey toward a common goal.

A human-centric approach in any transformation effort also means recognizing that change isn’t just a technical or procedural issue – it’s a deeply personal one. Employees might fear the unknown, worry about their job security, or simply be unsure of new procedures or what is expected from them. Addressing these concerns with empathy and understanding can transform resistance into support.

But how can leaders practically achieve this? In our next section, we will delve into the core competencies of change leadership and how these can be practically applied in real-world scenarios.

Core Competencies of Leaders Successful In Transformation Challenges

Change management is a multifaceted challenge that requires a set of specific competencies for effective leadership and the three core competencies are the 3 C’s: Chat, Co-Create, and Carry out. These competencies provide a framework for leaders to drive transformation and change projects effectively.

Chat: Successful change leaders go beyond just explaining what will change; they articulate why the change is necessary. This involves connecting the change to the organization’s values and goals, which fosters stronger buy-in and a sense of urgency. Also, continuing to communicate during the transformation journey on different levels and channels is so obvious according to textbooks but left blank in way too many programs in the real world

Co-Create: Change should not be a solitary endeavor. It requires breaking down silos within an organization and fostering a collaborative environment. Involving employees from different levels, teams, and locations in the planning and execution of the transformation strengthens their commitment and leverages diverse perspectives for a more comprehensive approach. Sometimes we are surprised, that roadblocks are brought up in advance by talents from different parts of the organization, thus can be tackled upfront and hiccups throughout the program can be (better) avoided.

Carry out: Leaders must embody the change they wish to see. This means adapting one’s behaviors and way of working to support the change, showing resilience in the face of challenges, and being persistent. Leaders who demonstrate commitment to change inspire their teams to follow and the speed and success of any transformation endeavor will work twice as fast.

Incorporating these competencies into your leadership approach can significantly enhance the effectiveness of transformation initiatives. By communicating with clarity, fostering co-creation, and demonstrating commitment, leaders can guide their teams through the complexities of change with greater success.

Overcoming Change Management Challenges with a Human-Centric Approach

Despite the best-laid plans, change management often encounters various obstacles, primarily around employee engagement and buy-in. A human-centric approach is key to navigating these challenges.

Firstly, it’s essential to recognize the emotional and psychological impact of any transformation. Change can induce anxiety, resistance, and uncertainty. Addressing these feelings openly and empathetically can convert potential resistance into constructive engagement. This needs to be done in an upfront planned, orchestrated approach and not in the fire-fighter mode once things go wrong.

Secondly, communication is crucial but needs to be two-way. Leaders should not only provide information but also actively listen to concerns and feedback – the latter sometimes seems more important to ensure a successful transformation. This open dialogue creates a sense of shared ownership and alignment with the challenges faced.

Finally, support systems are vital. This could be in the form of training, coaching, mastermind groups, learning resources, or simply providing a platform for expression and discussion. By investing in these support structures, leaders can facilitate a smoother transition and foster a more adaptable and resilient workforce.

Practical Steps for Leaders to Incorporate Empathy and Understanding

To bring about change that resonates and lasts, leaders need to take tangible steps that reflect empathy and understanding. Here are some actionable strategies:

  • Transparent Chatting: Keep your team informed about the change process, its impact, and how it aligns with the organization’s goals. Honesty builds trust and reduces uncertainty. But also listen frequently in different formats to what they have to say and would like you as leader to hear
  • Power-Lift: Involve your team in decision-making processes. This not only provides valuable insights but also makes them feel valued and integral to the change. People who are given the power to decide normally feel more responsible for what “they” collectively decided upon and, thus are more willing to make the effort to see results.
  • Retro-Loops: Establish a culture where feedback is encouraged and acted upon. This ensures continuous improvement and alignment with the team’s needs and concerns. Make it a habit to have fixed retrospective elements built into the milestones of your transformation journey, so feedback on how things work becomes a natural thing and doesn’t feel like troubleshooting when issues are raised.
  • Celebrate the wins: Acknowledge and celebrate big AND small wins. This helps maintain momentum and morale during the change process.
  • individualized Support: Offer support in the form of training, mentoring, each-one-teach-one, or any other format that is tailored to individual needs. This demonstrates a commitment to your team’s growth and adaptation to the change.

By incorporating these strategies, leaders can create an environment where change is not just managed but embraced and driven by the entire team.

Change is an inevitable part of organizational growth and success. However, its true potential is unlocked when leaders approach it with a human touch. By understanding and addressing the human element in any transformation approach, leaders can shift challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. We encourage you to implement these strategies in your change journey and invite you to reach out and share your experience.

The Better Version of Vacation: 90-day-retreats!

We read it in every second article, are bombarded with it on social media and emails from the talent / HR-department are emphasizing on the same things: It is crucial to prioritize your mental health. Go build your resilience muscle. Take care of your well-being. Improve your selfleadership. That’s quite a full plate, don’t you think so? What if there was one effective strategy to achieve this balance, applied by true healthy high performers? The answer is YES! I call it “90-day-retreats”. With the next vacation season approaching, I want to introduce you in this article to the benefits and why it is even a better version of vacation!

The concept of 90-day retreats means you intentionally take time for rejuvenation. You recharge your mind, foster self-awareness, and cultivate a resilient mindset. All this leading to a positive impact on your mental health and well-being.

Unplugging to Reconnect

Taking a 90-day-retreat involves temporarily disconnecting from the demands of everyday life, both personally and professionally. If you unplug from work, your digital devices and daily routines, you create space to reconnect with yourself on a deeper level. This uninterrupted time allows us to reflect, introspect, and gain clarity about our goals, values, and priorities. Through this process, we can cultivate self-awareness and enhance our ability to improve selfleadership.

Nurturing Mental Health

The endless demands of everyday life at work and at home can take a toll on our mental health. Chronic stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome and burnout seem to be omnipresent. Engaging in a 90-day-retreat means removing yourself from the constant hustle and bustle. You can reduce stress, relax, and truly engage in activities that feed your mindfulness muscle. Doing a short meditation, script a few lines in your journal, go for a long walk outside, spend an hour sitting at the pond in the park watching the birds. Any of these practices help to alleviate stress, improve mood, and foster a sense of inner calm and balance.

Developing Self-Leadership

Self-leadership is the ability to take charge of your own life, make conscious choices, and take responsibility for your actions. During your 90-day-retreat, you have the opportunity to cultivate self-leadership skills: set clear intentions. Define personal and professional goals. Reflect on your values and purpose. All this will enable you to make informed decisions, align your actions with your values, and lead yourself with clarity and purpose.

Building Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges, adapt to change, and maintain a positive outlook. Taking regular 90-day-retreats contributes to building resilience by allowing you to recharge and build your emotional reserves. By engaging in activities that you enjoy – whether this is beach volleyball with friends, cooking with your partner or having a fence-chat with your (hopefully) lovely neighbour – you can literally strengthen your resilience. This empowers you to navigate setbacks, overcome obstacles, and embrace change with a much better, more positive mindset.

It would be a bit exaggerated to say that 90-day-retreats are better than vacation ;-), but done in the true 90 days interval they can be at least as effective as a two week vacation. If you intentionally carve out time for rejuvenation, for yourself, for your mental health, you empower yourself to navigate life’s challenges with a clear mind and a strong sense of purpose. So, take out your calendar NOW and mark the days when you are going off for your next 90-day-retreat. And once you are enjoying this next retreat, make it a habit and schedule the next 90-day-retreat to follow. By doing this, you will avoid to run out of rejuvenation-time and you prioritise YOUR mental health and well-being.


How Small Steps Lead to Giant Happiness

Happiness is often described as the ultimate goal in life, it is significant for our personal well-being and overall life satisfaction. It is THE emotional state that brings us joy, contentment, and a sense of fulfillment. While the pursuit of happiness may differ for each individual, it remains a universal desire that goes beyond cultural and societal boundaries.

The approaching summer-season is hopefully also time to recharge, disconnect and reconnect with nature and outside-work things. It is hopefully a time where you can prioritize your own happiness and take active steps to nurture it. That’s why I want to spend some time in this blog article exploring the importance of personal happiness, why we need to care for it, and how it serves as the cornerstone for achieving a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Developing a happy mind can be a lifelong project, but there are plenty of quick pick-me-ups to sustain you through bad hair days and tough negotiations. These baby steps will have you smiling in less than 5 minutes.

Stand Tall

Your posture affects your state of mind. Straighten your spine and pull your shoulders back. As you take the strain of slouching off your lungs and heart, you’ll breathe more easily, decrease stress, and radiate more energy.

Play Best Song

Listen to your favorite songs, albums, artists during routine tasks. Whether it’s doing the bills or entering data or even spending your pomodoro session going through your inbox – it will seem more pleasant with the right sound.

Apply Good Smell

Some scents soothe our brain or refresh our senses. Whether you wear perfume, spice up a whole room with an air diffuser, simply use your favourite body cream or sprinkle some lavender on your pillow at night – just make sure it smells nice wherever you are.

Welcome Sunshine

Exposure to light makes us livelier, especially exposure to natural sunlight. Open a window or eat breakfast outdoors and allow some sunbeams on your face will open up the door for a smile and a nuance more happiness.

Appreciate the next Tree

It is one thing to imagine yourself lying on the beach or strolling through a garden, it’s an even better thing to actually do it and spend time outside, enjoying the beauty of the next tree or the next flower. It truly lifts your spirits and you should treat yourself to these real things maybe with a long hike or a boat ride on the next weekend.

Breath the Here and Now

Be present in the moment and devote your full attention to the one thing you do – just reading this blog article, just taking a zip from your tea or coffee, just looking outside letting your mind wander, just taking 10 deep breaths. Worries will fade as you focus on what you’re doing, just being present in the here and now.

Laugh out Loud

Your facial expressions shape your emotions, thus laughter is core for pushing your happiness-level. Even if you have to push yourself to smile and laugh, the effort will soon become natural. Just give it a try and enter the restaurant for lunch or the grocery story later today with a natural, medium-sized smile on your face. It doesn’t only lift your mood because you work the right facial muscles but might also have an impact on how the surrounding people will approach you.

Make a Compliment

There are days when we feel we are surrounded by idiots – Thomas Erikson even wrote a whole book about this! Luckily, there are also days when this is not 100% the case. Praise others and it makes you feel good too. You’ll receive instant gratification from knowing that you’ve brightened their day, and they may want to return the favor. You could also let others know how much you appreciate them. It will help to remind you of your profound blessings and take your mind off minor irritations.

Talk to the Known

Supportive friends contribute a lot to our overall wellbeing. Stay in touch with your old college roommate, former neighbour, co-worker or childhood-friend. Reach out to them frequently and try to make new connections with colleagues at work, other parents at your child’s school or just people you meet whilst doing sports.

Talk to the Unknown

Now this sounds strange but it’s worth giving a try: studies show that small talk relieves stress and makes daily experiences more enjoyable. Ask other shoppers at the farmer’s market about which sellers they like. Take a break while jogging to chat with someone who’s cleaning the park. Spend a couple minutes chatting with the person before or behind you in line while getting your coffee or lunch.

Whether you decide to go for one of these baby steps or for all them – it will definitely have a positive impact on your happiness today. Happiness comes from within, so you have the power to add more joy to your life. It takes just some of these baby steps and small changes in order to achieve giant results.


The Ultimate Energizer: How Sleep Fuels Your Performance

Regardless of which roles you have in your life right now – from board member to family member – there is one super valuable resource that many overlook, especially in these fast-paced times with endless to do-lists and too much weight on your shoulders: sleep! Sleep is actually the ultimate energizer for individuals striving to stay productive, maintain their well-being and master healthy high performance. It acts as a vital reset button for the body and mind, allowing especially busy people to recharge, restore their cognitive functions, and replenish their energy reserves. With constant stimulation and non-stop activity, understanding the significance of sleep as the ultimate energizer is paramount for those seeking to thrive amidst the chaos and achieve healthy high performance in their daily lives.

Experts say that you spend roughly one-third of your life sleeping. Certainly, you want to make every moment count toward the physical and mental rejuvenation that a good sleep provides! Here are 8 tips you can put into action now to experience some of the best sleep of your life:

  1. Investigate your evening routine. Think about the activities you’re involved in from the time you walk in the door to the moment your head hits the pillow. The goal is to increase your awareness about what you’re doing and see if it could be interrupting your sleep. Are you playing catch-up by bringing work home from the office? If so, your mind may be on overdrive and unable to turn off. Do you find yourself consumed with doing household chores like laundry and house-cleaning? In that case, you’re probably lacking time for relaxation.

2. Plan to be in bed with the lights out for at least eight hours. Do you stay up until after midnight? Try to schedule evening activities early, so you can still get eight hours of sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to make it eight and a half hours.

3. Allow time to unwind. If you’re super busy, you’ll probably be rushing around until you finally collapse on the bed in hopes of getting a few winks. Instead, give yourself at least an hour to shift gears and relax before bed. Everyone needs some downtime.

4. Clear your mind from the day’s chaos. Maybe it’s reading a few pages in a book or taking 20 minutes to meditate. Focus on shifting your thoughts from the intense to the trivial. A tranquil mind invites more sleep than a chaotic one.

5. Create an uncluttered, relaxing bedroom environment. Although you may think that a cluttered bedroom is ok, it may be preventing relaxation and interfering with your sleep. Besides, clutter draws dust, which can cause breathing difficulties during the night. Put everything away: Clothes can go into drawers or the closet, junk mail and magazines into the recycling bin. Organize what you have left: Place a lamp, reading materials, and your alarm clock on your night stand and set the scene for a comfortable night’s slumber.

6. Turn off electronics at least one hour before bed. The light emanating from backlit screens like cell phones, tablets, and e-readers can trick your body into thinking it’s daylight and time to be awake. Plus, it’s best to rest your eyes from such gadgets before trying to sleep.

7. Take a warm bath rather than a shower. If you tend to struggle with sleep quality, it may be that your shower routine is invigorating you rather than relaxing you. Sitting for a few minutes in warm water can help your muscles relax and prepare for sleep.

8. From box-spring bed to box-breathing in bed: Take deep breaths through your nose and count till 5, hold them for 5 seconds, exhale slowly through your nouse counting till 5 again, hold for 5 seconds, repeat. Imagine a quadrant of 4 equal sides and start at the bottom left when doing your breathings.

Many members of our society glorify the hustle and celebrate burnout, thus it’s crucial to recognize the undeniable importance of sleep for your overall health, well-being and continued healthy high performance. Sleep is not merely a luxury but a fundamental pillar of a healthy lifestyle. It is during those precious hours of slumber that your body repairs, regenerates, and optimizes various biological functions: From bolstering your immune system and enhancing cognitive abilities to promoting emotional resilience and fostering creativity, sleep plays an irreplaceable role in our physical, mental, and emotional vitality.

Embracing the value of sleep and prioritizing it as an integral part of your daily routine is a profound act of self-care that enables us to face each day with clarity and a sense of inner balance. So, let us cherish the beauty of rest and honor the ultimate energizer sleep and invest in your own health!

The Counterproductive Myth: Why Sacrificing Sleep for Productivity Backfires

It is a real pitty to say, but it is not uncommon at all for people to sacrifice sleep in pursuit of productivity.

Does this make sense? No.

Can you believe it? Yes.

Do you feel a little guilty now? Maybe?

It’s one thing to talk about the importance of sleep and still go to bed too late every evening, neglecting the long-term implications. To make it a bit more tangible, I took the effort to research some scientific findings that consistently shown that neglecting sleep is counterproductive and undermines your ability to be a healthy high performer. This article should – hopefully – be a friendly reminder for all of you reading these lines and take sleep as serious as it is supposed to be. I will explore the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on productivity and delve into the scientific evidence that supports the importance of prioritizing sleep for success. I will also examine how well-rested leaders possess qualities such as empathy, creativity, innovation, and sound decision-making, which are crucial for all of us achieving long-term success.

The Adverse Impact of Sleep Deprivation

Numerous scientific studies highlight the negative consequences of sleep deprivation on cognitive function and productivity. One study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that sleep-deprived individuals exhibit impairments in attention, working memory, and cognitive processing speed, leading to decreased productivity and increased errors (Banks et al., 2007). Sleep deprivation also compromises decision-making abilities, problem-solving skills, and the ability to think creatively (Killgore, 2010). These findings underscore the notion that sacrificing sleep compromises our cognitive capabilities and diminishes productivity rather than enhancing it.

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Sleep deprivation not only affects cognitive function but also impairs our emotional well-being and interpersonal relationships. Research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley revealed that lack of sleep reduces the brain’s capacity to accurately interpret and respond to emotional cues, leading to a decline in empathy and emotional intelligence (Walker, 2017). Well-rested leaders, on the other hand, are better equipped to understand and connect with their team members, fostering a positive work environment that promotes collaboration and trust – both the baseline for any organization or team try to master current times of uncertainty!

Unleashing Creativity and Innovation

Sleep plays a vital role in facilitating creative thinking and fostering innovative ideas. A study published in the journal “Thinking & Reasoning” demonstrated that sleep enhances insight problem-solving and facilitates the integration of unrelated concepts, resulting in innovative solutions (Wagner et al., 2004). Adequate sleep allows the brain to consolidate information, make novel connections, and engage in creative problem-solving, enabling well-rested leaders to approach challenges with fresh perspectives and breakthrough thinking.

Sound Decision-Making

Effective decision-making is a cornerstone of success in leadership and entrepreneurship. Sleep deprivation, however, impairs judgment and compromises our ability to make sound decisions. A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, revealed that sleep-deprived individuals tend to make riskier decisions and exhibit a reduced ability to evaluate potential outcomes accurately. In contrast, leaders who prioritize sleep can make better-informed decisions, weighing the pros and cons with clarity and rationality.

Why It Matters for Success

Well-rested leaders who prioritize sleep possess a competitive edge in the long run. By nurturing qualities such as empathy, creativity, innovation, and sound decision-making, they create a positive work culture that attracts and retains top talent. Moreover, they are better equipped to handle complex challenges, adapt to changing circumstances, and lead their teams with clarity and inspiration. All of these qualities are urgently needed for any organization and industry these days. We know, success is not solely measured by immediate outcomes but by sustained growth, innovation, and long-term achievements – all of which are enhanced by prioritizing quality sleep.

The belief that sacrificing sleep leads to enhanced productivity is a counterproductive myth. Scientific research consistently shows that neglecting sleep undermines cognitive function, impairs emotional intelligence, stifles creativity, and compromises decision-making abilities. Well-rested leaders, on the other hand, possess qualities that are essential for long-term success, including heightened empathy, enhanced creativity, innovative thinking, and sound decision-making skills. Hopefully now, having read some scientific research findings, you truly recognize the importance of quality sleep as a catalyst for success and go for a good rest tonight!

The Habit of Saying “No”: Why It’s So Important to Learn and 5 Easy Tricks to Do It

Saying “no” can be one of the most difficult things to do, especially for those who are people-pleasers or have a fear of disappointing others. But it’s not only those considered „weak“ – also many leaders and decision makers have their own way of fighting with this little word “no”. However, learning to say “no” is an essential habit for maintaining healthy boundaries, reducing stress, mastering productivity, managing one’s own needs and last but not least: achieving your goals and not just working off the tasks on other people’s agendas! In this article, we will explore why it is so important to learn to say “no,” why people fail in saying “no,” and five easy tricks on how to say “no” more often.

Why Saying “No” is Important

Learning to say “no” is crucial for several reasons. First, it allows individuals to prioritize their own needs and goals. Without the ability to say “no,” individuals can become overwhelmed with responsibilities and commitments that do not align with their values or priorities. Saying “no” enables individuals to focus on what is truly important to them, whether it be personal goals, self-care, or spending time with loved ones. Think of a small child, 2-3 years old, trying to get what she wants and throwing this insisting, unmistakable “no” at Mum or Dad – this is a living example of saying “no” because of prioritizing one’s own, current needs!

Second, saying “no” helps to establish healthy boundaries. Boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy relationships, both personal and professional. Without boundaries, individuals can become overworked, stressed, and even resentful of others. Saying “no” when necessary can help individuals establish and maintain boundaries, communicate their needs, and promote mutual respect in their relationships.

Finally, saying “no” can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Constantly saying “yes” to every request or opportunity can lead to burnout, fatigue, and decreased mental and physical health. By saying “no” when necessary, individuals can reduce stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and prioritize their own well-being.

Why People Fail in Saying “No”

Despite the importance of saying “no” from a productivity point, many individuals struggle to do so. There are several reasons why people fail in saying “no,” including:

  • Fear of disappointing others: Many people-pleasers fear that saying “no” will disappoint or upset others, leading them to say “yes” to everything.
  • Guilt: Individuals may feel guilty for saying “no,” especially if they have a strong desire to please others.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Individuals may worry that saying “no” will cause them to miss out on opportunities or experiences.
  • Lack of assertiveness: Some individuals may struggle with assertiveness, making it difficult for them to say “no” without feeling guilty or uncomfortable.
  • Need for approval: Some individuals may feel a strong need for approval from others, leading them to say “yes” to everything to gain validation or acceptance.

5 Easy Tricks and Advice to Say “No” More Often

Learning to say “no” takes practice and to make it a habit is part of any core productivity routine. There are several easy tricks and advice to help individuals become more comfortable with this habit:

  • Prioritize your values and goals: Before committing to anything, take time to reflect on your values and goals. Does this opportunity align with what is important to you? Will it help you achieve your goals? If not, consider saying “no.”
  • Use “I” statements: When saying “no,” use “I” statements to communicate your needs and boundaries. For example, “I cannot commit to this right now” or “I need to prioritize my own well-being at the moment.”
  • Offer alternatives: If you cannot say “yes” to a request or opportunity, offer an alternative that aligns with your values and goals. For example, “I cannot attend this event, but I would be happy to help you plan the next one.”
  • Practice assertiveness: Assertiveness takes practice, but it is a skill that can be learned. Use assertive language,

While it may be difficult at first, there are several easy tricks and advice that individuals can use to become more comfortable with saying “no.” By prioritizing values and goals, using “I” statements, offering alternatives, practicing assertiveness, and recognizing that it is okay to say “no,” individuals can establish and maintain healthy boundaries, improve their overall well-being, and build stronger, more respectful relationships. Despite „no“ being such a short, simple word it does take practice for many people – young and old, experienced and juniors alike – to become more and more comfortable to say “no”. So, don’t be afraid to say “no” when necessary and prioritize your own needs and goals. Your mental and physical health will thank you and „no“ will be your key to many “yes-es” to follow!