What do clients appreciate about working with you?
I often get feedback that with me they can speak about, and also tackle, a variety of different subjects, whether they be business management problems, leadership situations, or even personal questions. Another point is that in a short space of time, with my way of operating, many valuable and practical points are brought up and can be directly implemented, and in this way recognisable benefits are seen quickly. This is also why my approach tends to be built on existing resources and strengths, and is less concerned with fathoming the depths of the problem. And: even in serious discussions it’s possible to relax now and then and have a laugh.
Communication runs through your activities like a red thread – what value do you see in this?
Now and then in connection with my clients’ transformation procedures I ask “Do you believe that people can change?” Up until now, this question has never been answered with an emphatic “Yes”. However, one thing that can be consciously and purposefully changed is one’s own behaviour, one’s own thoughts. According to the principal of “action and reaction”, there is always an interaction between people. The way you speak, move, look at someone – everything has an effect, whether conscious or subconscious, on the person in front of you. Therefore, if I alter my behaviour and communication, as a result I influence the “in between”, that which takes place between me and another. I can tackle the way I communicate pragmatically and in concrete terms, and in this way work purposefully and at the same time on different levels. In this in particular, I see the huge value of personal communication.
What are the important principles of your work as an advisor?
Before I reflect on content, methods or solutions, I find it essential to understand my client’s situation precisely. For this, connections within the organisation’s dynamics are just as important as the personal understanding of leadership. In this way I can see the situation through my client’s eyes and then, combined with my knowledge and experience, develop individually tailored action plans.
What fascinates you about coaching?
The effects that come from explicit reflection. I call it “thinking aloud”. My clients are often quick thinkers, and always under pressure. They want to keep moving on, and therefore constantly face new challenges. This is not only demanding and tiring. At times they find themselves, by necessity, on the edge of chaos. Just when the demands are complex and time-critical, it is enormously valuable to be able to act with inner clarity. Coaching can bring a lot to this.
What have been the best moments in your career?
For example, at the end of a workshop, after intensive work, difficult discussions and creative exchanges, memorable achievements have been realised and at the same time among the participants there is a good atmosphere and a sense of satisfaction with the outcomes. What connects people is common themes, common actions. To achieve this, hurdles must be surmounted, and sometimes tension arises. Converting this creative tension into results not only makes the clients happy, but me as well.
Your activities demand that you be fully present – how do you recharge your batteries?
The best thing is relaxing in the countryside, preferably with my husband, Holger. We have many common interests, which makes it easier. Among these is sailing on Lake Zug in summer and skiing in winter, conversations and days out with friends, canoe tours in west Canada, travelling with a tent in the deserts of Oman – there are many entries in our diary which awaken wonderful memories and give me new energy for my work.
You completed a two-year “Masters in Executive Coaching” course in England in 2009 – what did this experience mean for you personally?
In my career I am constantly in contact with people who find themselves, in processes of change as individuals or in their leadership responsibilities. Through learning highs and lows, unfamiliar situations can be mastered. The more of this I understand from my own experience, the better I can help people in similar situations. Therefore I consciously chose a route for my own development which challenged me to move outside my comfort zone and explore new places. In this case it was a challenge on three fronts: language, culture and subject matter – business psychology instead of business management. This process was very fulfilling, sometimes also markedly difficult. However, right in the middle of this difficult situation I also learned things that only benefitted not only me: I notice that my clients have also gained.