30 mins read time

Great Leadership in Times of Crisis

On this episode of the Virtual Frontier, we have Bernd Geropp. Bernd is a C-level executive coach. Bernd, Manuel and Daniel had a conversation about leadership in uncertain times or within a crisis situation/period.

Are great leaders born that way, or can everyone learn to be a great leader? How can a great leader support his followers/team through difficult times and keep up a good spirit? Are companies and individuals prepared for a disruptive VUCA world and what could possibly be done about that? Bernd and Manuel discussed the answer to those questions and many more.

If you like to find out more about Bernds work, you should visit his website https://www.berndgeropp.com/
Follow his outstanding english podcast: Leadership Made Easy
or the German version of the podcast Führung auf den Punkt gebracht

You want to learn something new? Check out the website Daniel mentioned in this episode, were you can find 600 free online courses from international recognized universities around the globe.

You can find out more about FlashHub and Virtual Teams as a service at Flashhub.io

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Chris Reeves 0:03

Hello and welcome to the Virtual Frontier, the podcast about virtual teams created by virtual team. I’m Chris and I’m part of the team here at Flash Hub. On today’s episode, we have Bernd Geropp. Bernd is a C level executive coach. Bernd, Manuel and Daniel had an awesome conversation about leadership during a crisis or uncertain times. So here is Episode 17 of the Virtual Frontier, featuring our guest Bernd Geropp.

Daniel Guaper 0:33

So Hello Bernd, and welcome very much to our new episode here at Virtual Frontier. I am really happy that we have you today as a guest. Let me introduce to our audience a little bit about yourself. You are an enterpreneur founder and CEO and you have worked many years in the high tech industry and back in 2009 you started as a C level executive coach and speaker But maybe you want to tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background and from very coming and where you’re heading with your business today.

Bernd Geropp 1:09

Yeah, sure, sure. Thank you, Daniel. Um, well, I studied electrical engineering and during my PhD after the studies, I developed together with another friend of mine, a mechanical engineer, sensor technique, and we try to sell that sensor technique, and no one wanted to buy it. So we were really frustrated and said, Okay, let’s, let’s make a start up. So we started our first company, got venture capital in and after five years, we had 20 employees. And we sold the company then to a big international corporation. Now, if I tell you this, and this way, it sounds like a success, but it wasn’t. Because we were in the five years. We weren’t profitable, and we had to sell it more or less, it was the year 2000. And it was a roller coaster, this kind of startup. We did a lot of things in the hindsight now, wrongly. So we were focused on engineering and not on selling and marketing, for example. So we, it was, we were lucky to sell the company in 2000, end of 2000 to that big international cooperation and there I was then in charge of integrating my former company, and I was in charge to build this service business worldwide. And at the end, I was responsible for 350 employees all around the globe, just great time. But if you are if you were an entrepreneur, if you have been an entrepreneur and then you work for a big corporation. In the beginning that was great because they invested in us. But after about five or six years, the strategy changed. So then it was not the right thing any longer to stay in that company, but in still took me two to three years until I really decided to be on my own again. And so I quit my well paid job in this corporate world and started my business in this time then as a leadership coach. And to be honest, in the first years, it was quite rough. until I started my gym podcast on leadership. It’s Führung auf den Punkt gebracht. That was in 2013. And one year later, I started my I call that Online Leadership Platform. There I help leaders to master their first leadership role. Online Video trainings, online workshops, online, one on one coaching everything included. And that’s my business today. And I doing this right now mainly in in German, but I also started to do that in English.

Daniel Guaper 4:18

Wow, quite a trip. So that does have a big background for the corporate world. And then you changed again, to be an entrepreneur, after many years. Bernd we want to talk today a little bit about leadership, leadership styles and how leadership can help and assist companies in this uncertain times that we are right now in and maybe what is ahead of us. So, Bernd, could you tell us a little bit more about your approach when coaching founders and CEOs in special and might bit about the, the most common struggle CEOs or leaders from today’s approach you with.

Bernd Geropp 5:04

Sure, the funny thing is the the the most common struggles I see with mainly all managers or kind of company sizes or even all kinds of levels is not really in the beginning how to lead employees but how to lead yourself. So there are most of the people most of the managers struggle with how to focus, how to have time for important but not urgent tasks. So, all the leadership tasks are not urgent normally there’s and that’s a problem for them. So, like strategy, take the time to make the one on one meetings with with their employees. All of these things has to do with self management. There, I see a big issue for most of the managers today. Of course, it’s also how to delegate how to accept that you should now not be the best expert any longer if you just started as a manager, because your role has changed. All this comes together, but it starts the struggle with first. Take your time to focus on the really important things which are normally not the ones which are urgent, not the operative things. So find time not for the operative, but for the leadership tasks. I would say that’s the most common struggle I see with founders, CEOs, but even with normal managers or leaders everywhere in all kinds of companies.

Daniel Guaper 6:52

It’s very interesting. So it’s mostly about self management and you have to start to train and educate your yourself. Right?

Bernd Geropp 7:00

Right. It’s really about self awareness, I would say. That also implies then what are my values? What does my order my expectations? What’s my Why? All these things you need to think about as a, as a leader, as a founder as a CEO, if you don’t have that, that’s like the base like the base ground. If you don’t have that, and you want to lead people, it’s not working. The funny thing is, very often when I’m doing workshops or when I’m talking to leaders, they think they just need the technique, but it’s not the technique which makes a good leader. That’s one part. But that whole technique will not work if this ground work is not there. And that’s self awareness. That’s what are my values expectations? What’s my Why? How do I deal with this daily incoming information overload, that’s this self management. That’s, I think the most critical thing.

Daniel Guaper 8:20

Would you say, as a coach and the many years and experience you have, that this has changed over the last year on this requirements that customers approached you with? Or is that something like continuously?

Bernd Geropp 8:36

it is continuously, but you’re right, it’s, it gets worse. Let me put it like this. And that’s because… how to focus and how to deal with distractions, this becomes more and more, bigger, bigger and bigger struggle. And, of course, if we see it’s, let’s say 10 years years ago, it was just email today it’s email, oh, something’s coming up with slack. Oh, there’s a chat. There’s these, these these. The distractions are increasingly a problem, I think. And today it’s also more a mindset thing that we are all running in. We are all working in an environment which grew over the last have grown over the last 10 years. There’s no bad experience with industry right now. This is just to come. And that’s also something where I think lot more and more managers say, Well what happens if it’s not growing any longer and they are not prepared?

Daniel Guaper 9:48

It’s it’s interesting…., what would you say in your opinion defines a successful leadership style overall, maybe especially having in mind this times that they are not so easy and more difficult right now and getting more complex and more disturbing, what would you say what is like the basics?

Bernd Geropp 10:16

First of all, especially if you are, if you lead a team or if you lead a company, you need to have clear you have to be clear about when you need to lead in a cooperative way. And when you need to be like authoritative how was called, authoritative I think. So, you should of course, most of the time, be cooperative. That’s in our world today. That’s important because you’re normally your your employees should be the expert and not you. Therefore you need to work there. You need to lead co-operative, you can’t, in most of the cases lead in an authoritative way because if you the authoritative leader, then you need to know all the details which you can’t any longer especially if we are talking about it, for example, the development team or something like that. That’s a that’s a one one important part but if we call a talk about qualities about what is important as a leader so that you are accepted as a leader, I think they’re the best kind of qualities are honesty, integrity, and dependability. And then you have a bigger chance that people really follow you. So you also need to be consistent and a reliable person, a trustworthy person and one important thing thats something I learned over the years already in the beginning when I started in the big company in that you have to take decisions. And that sounds obvious, of course, a leader takes decisions but really take decisions. And to take a decision means you have to take a decision also, if it’s not clear that it can be, it can go wrong. That’s when you really take a decision. That’s when you take when you take responsibility. And there I see also a lot of people who say, I don’t have enough, I don’t have enough information. I may wait. Sometimes that’s okay. But much too often, it’s not okay. They, they don’t take the decision, because they’re afraid of the responsibility which comes with it. And there was one saying I learned from my first boss In FAG company I sold my company to, was my first boss. And he told me, you have to take decisions, but it’s your responsibility. And that means as a manager as a leader, except to get fired. And that’s something I found very helpful to think about that. And also, if you don’t lead if you don’t take the decision, who will? It’s your responsibility.

Daniel Guaper

Right. Having those qualities in mind that we just talked about, do you think there’s something that we can call a born leader? Or is this basically possible to learn for everyone that is intrested or that wants to be a good leader?

Bernd Geropp

Hmm, I think I believe everyone can learn to be a leader, it’s more about that you have to answer the question, do you really want to be a leader? Because if you want, you want to be a leader, that means that you not just need to learn some techniques, how to manage or something like that, but that you have to work on yourself, we come back to what I said before, self awareness. And that means that you have to work on yourself. And that’s sometimes Hmm. Getting to Know yourself can sometimes be not so nice. Your special picture about yourself and suddenly it’s not so nice. So you have to accept this. And the second part of for a lot of people who get into their first promoted into their first leadership role. They have to accept that they are not the best friend any longer of their team. They are now the leader. They have a different role and it’s not about to be the best friend of everyone any longer. You’re not part of the team, you’re still part of the team but in a different role. And that can also be tricky. And before you take this kind of responsibility as a leader, you should think about that.

Daniel Guaper 15:21

Yeah. So perspective changes over the time. That’s right. That’s interesting. Manuel. I have a question for you. And that fits quite well. As a founder of and CEO of Bright Solutions and Flash Hub, you lead right now an international team with in more than 30 countries. How has your own role as leader changed in recent years and has as a young intrapreneur have you foreseen those changes that right are right now ahead of you.

Manuel Pistner 15:54

Oh thats a good question. I could write a book about this. But first, let me say that, during your conversation and while Ben was talking, I had a huge smile on my face all the time because I experienced all these things in the past. And I can only confirm that. Yeah, everything is 100% right. It’s not the employees that are the problems. It’s not the market that are the problems. It’s not other circumstances that are your main problem. The main problem is this one, your body, your mind you. And if you can’t control this in a proper way, how will you lead other people? And to answer your question, Daniel, this is exactly what I experienced while starting as a freelancer then growing as an entrepreneur then growing to a global company with Flash Hub. I’m in the very beginning. I was the resource, I was the leader. I was everything. I did everything by myself. And that was kind of easy, because when I decided to do something, I always had to take the consequence just by my self. And then when you grow certain amount of employees, then you have to take more responsibility. And you have to deal with the fact that other people are not as you are. So I’ve employed other people and then I always assumed they think in the same way that I do they follow the same mission that I do, they would do the same things that I do. That was totally wrong. I didn’t even know that there are so many different characteristics in people that influenced the results that much. I always thought, Okay, this needs to get done. So, just do that. And then emotions come into play. And, they just bring up other different results than I would have expected them. And that was, especially in the last year when we’ve grown to a global team. That I’ve realized then Culture comes into play that is different. Another layer of complexity and but it came always back to the point that if I want to lead other people first I need to lead myself. And I can 100% confirm, what Bernd says, taking a decision is not just making an excel sheet, list all the facts and then calculate Is it good or bad decision? And if it’s a bad decision, don’t do it. If it’s a good one, go ahead. That’s know how that’s not how it works. You have to make decisions on things on facts that you know and not on the facts that you want to know. And that brings up a certain amount of uncertainty. But anyway, you have to take a decision and you have to take the risk and you have to take ownership and you have to take responsibility, even if things go wrong. And that’s the real nature of taking a decision. And exactly, this is what brings you forward, what brings the whole organization forward. And if you have a leader that does not take any decision just tells the team we have a problem here we need to do we need to do and the problem is we nobody will do it, you as a leader have to do it. And this is something that is very, very important if you want to have progress in a complex world in an ever changing world with change that increases in speed every everyday basically.

Daniel Guaper 19:30

So right. We had in our pre talk, Bernd a little bit of focus on leadership in crisis. So this was all hang up, I guess, when we started our conversation. So leading in an environment that isn’t challenging might be not so hard. But what happens when it’s getting hard, and maybe there’s a crisis up front. So my question for you would be, watching the current economic situation and listening to the analysis of the experts and everything. So a depression or some maybe full blown crisis is coming up. So how could execute this on proactively get involved with that without falling in some kind of panic mode? How can they embrace those situations and get ahead of it.

Bernd Geropp 20:33

I would like to compare that to a captain who’s on a ship. What does the ship’s captain do if he’s at sea and he gets the information? Ohh dear, a big storm is coming. What will he do? Will he say Oh, dearm we all will die? It will not be really helpful. What he will do. He will say okay, let’s get prepared for the storm. He will prepare the ship he will discuss actions with the crew. And he will be the guy who stands there and has, how can I say, a sovereign position who people will trust that this guy will lead us through the storm. I think that’s the responsibility for the guy who’s in charge. So be prepared as an executive, any leader entrapreneur or manager they should work on in this situation in the form that they get prepared for it like winter is coming. And I think that’s the main issue here. You will need to think in options you will need to not just say okay, that’s our plan. Let’s follow the plan but it’s more than a agile approach which will help you go through the storm.

Daniel Guaper 21:58

Could you get a little bit more detail what you mean by get prepared?

Bernd Geropp 22:07

Um, I think the point is, if the if the if the shit hits the fan you need to think about what’s the worst that can happen. So if you now in a situation that you said holy crap we in the automotive industry it’s going down it’s already starting this company’s bankrupt this company fires employees what can we do. So make make plans but don’t rely on the plan. Make a plan and thinking options what happens if what happens if, so that you can yeah steer your company even in rough environment. If let’s say for how long time do you have for the next three for the month, if no orders come in, what can you do? Do you need cash flow? Do you need all these kind of things to be prepared? And to have a plan? What happens if this signals are coming? I think that’s, that’s an important part that’s more on the outside preparation, the other preparation is more than insight for yourself. Like if something happens like that, if a crisis comes, it’s important that you are, how can I say that you that you are in your strength, so you need to have energy and you need to be healthy. Otherwise you cannot think clearly and your motivation level is low. You need to avoid this and that. These are very, how can I say very normal things, regular things. So try to stay fit and healthy. Very important and it’s get enough sleep. If you don’t have enough sleep, you make you take wrong decisions. I observed that with myself so often. And it’s directly combined with less sleep is that my motivation is down, that I, if I hear something, said a critical situation, I’m in a totally different mood if I don’t have enough sleep. So also take regularly time off. Take your time, not just for the operative, but take your time to think on the long term strategical thinking is important in that way. So spent just time to get out of your normal way. Change your environment regularly. All this kind of things. is important. And really, if then, as I said, the shit hits the fan, then think always about what’s the worst that can happen? And how can you deal if the worst happens? Try to have options, see yourself then as the captain and don’t panic. It sounds very broad, but I think that’s the main issue. It’s it comes back to self awareness. If, if you’re in a in such a situation, you need to be in a situation, you need to have the strength to think properly to think clearly. And to make the best what you can do. If the storm is there, and the captain is on the ship, he cant say, Oh oh stop, stop, we need to have a break. It’s not working. You need to prepare for this time. And then what if the worst comes to the worst. Even if the worst happen, life will still go on as a saying, but it’s true. And I’m telling that because I went through these kind of times, especially with my first company, or you fall down into a depression, medicine everything in the last year to in order to get into this negotiations where we could sort of sell the company. So all what I saying here, I lived through that. That’s why I’m saying that’s what helped me in such situations.

Daniel Guaper 26:39

Okay, so we got, don’t fall into a panic mode, get enough sleep. Is there anything else we a leader from today should avoid when it gets to a crisis situation?

Bernd Geropp 26:52

I think that the point is that the people will look on you they will look how are you? How do You behave. So you are you can, you can steer your ship into the right direction when you are, I wouldn’t say a tough guy in that era. But if you say okay, I accept the situation. And let’s see what we can do. That’s our plan. That’s where we going, take the decisions. If the other team members look at you and see that you panic, then the whole team is panicking. That’s why I think that’s the most important part. Be prepared, and don’t panic, no.

Daniel Guaper 27:40

Manuel. Which mindset helps you in your daily practices as a CEO and founder to deal with such difficult situation and times?

Manuel Pistner 27:50

Yes, I can, again, confirm that because for me, there are three main components that keep me up every day and that helped me to not panic. So the first thing is in In fact, get enough sleep. That’s totally true When I just slept five or six hours, try to sleep always eight hours. If I sleep less than my mind, that’s what my mind wants, but not what I want. I usually try to see my mind my ability to think as a tool. So but if this tool does just something, then I lack focus, then I take poor decisions or wrong decisions. And most importantly, I can’t lead anybody else. So because leading other people is most likely somehow leading their minds, helping them to find, the right decisions to focus on the right things. But this requires, I need to do this by myself first. The second thing is sports. I do sports every day, at least either in the morning or in the evening, but if I do it in the morning, I’m fresh, I feel healthy, I feel strong. I feel prepared for the day and then things can come as they go. I also talk to my wife daily, she helps me getting coached. She just asked me questions if I’m too deep into some problems. And I don’t see the positive things again, I don’t see the big picture again. Then I stopped my working day and I think this was a horrible day I had so many problems, nothing works. That’s not true. Even if you feel nothing works, that’s not true. Just step a little bit outside of this problem zone and watch what you accomplished. Watch the big picture and talk about it. That’s why I love this podcast because I always see okay, we are heading into the right into the right direction. There are other people that think and feel and act this way. Of course, bad times they are always there or problems are always there. And difficult issues also always there, but they only become hard for you if you want to see them from the right direction, in every problem, there is a chance that sounds like, okay, I’ve heard this every time but it’s so true. It depends on, for example, an important employee leaves. So you can either say, ohh why does he leave? I’m so disappointed. Why is why is he leaving, I did everything to make him stay, whatever, whatever. So everything is a problem for the situation. But if you look at the other side, you could also say, Hey, we had a great time, like 2,3,5 or whatever years, and now there is a time to bring fresh wind into the company, finding somebody else. I’m excited about and this person is excited about the company. So let’s make this a new start. It’s the same fact it’s the same situation. It’s just a different angle of the perspective how you see things. And this is the other important thing yes.

Bernd Geropp 30:53

I can fully agree that especially the two things he said the different perspective is a very important And here’s again, you only get this different perspective, if you’re healthy if you’re fit. If you’re sleepy, you don’t see that different perspective. And the second thing, what I also liked very much Manuel is that you say, you need to talk about it with someone outside of your team. And, I experienced the same that my wife was very helpful for me, especially in these critical times because I could talk to someone in a way I can’t talk to my team because the team I can’t tell the team. I don’t know exactly what where we are heading right now. I’m not sure what to do. This situations where you were, where you’re down. You don’t want to show that to the team. But you need someone to talk to. So I think that’s a very important issue. Yeah.

Daniel Guaper 32:07

And also few questions from your own perspective Manuel as a see on the daily business and you Bernd for from your perspective, coach. How well is the majority of the managers prepared to lead teams and employers through difficult times? And do companies in general have this in mind when it comes to educate their leaders?

Manuel Pistner 32:33

Your first Bernd?

Bernd Geropp 32:35

To be honest, I think most of the managers most of the leaders, they are not prepared. They are not educated. Only few companies I know really put enough time and effort in education for their managers. That’s the first thing. What I observe in small and medium sized companies is that most of the managers are not prepared, and even a lot of the younger entrapreneurs are not prepared. Because, also that there was no crisis in the last 10 years. They don’t have the experience with the crisis and most of the cases, Especially if they are not entrepreneurs, but they are, if they are managers in a company, then if they are if they are employees, then in the last 10 years, there was no crisis. So, if you are, let’s say 32, you haven’t seen the crisis. And that’s, that will hit hard. If we get into a crisis. I think that that will be tough here, talking about Germany. So, to sum that up. No, I think we are not well prepared. And I see a lot of managers and entrepreneurs, not educated to really lead.

Manuel Pistner 34:04

What is my opinion is that most organizations in. I don’t know how it is in the world, but I can talk for German organizations, German companies that I know that I work with and I have experience,. They are not made for flexibility. They are not made for catching opportunities they are made to preserve the status quo and to avoid risk. Yeah, that’s what they do. And you see that in the culture. So, most companies are hierarchical. There is like a CEO then second level management or level management then you have the employees on the front line. And what typically happens is that everyone tries to save his own ass. They try to make decisions so that they can’t be blamed. They try whenever there is a problem, they try to find the reason and they try to find whom to blame. But this will not move you forward. There might be an opportunity within the situation that you see as a problem. But you are not able to catch it because you’re spending your time with finding the person to blame. And then you try to talk to this person, and what will you do next time to prevent this and so on and so forth. And this person is like, Oh, I can’t move anymore, because now everyone is pointing fingers to me, Will I lose my job? So they are not able to act flexible, they are not able to catch an opportunity, while others do it. And, yeah, this is the same in a crisis, there is always an opportunity in a crisis. I mean, I just founded, I started my company in 2008 2009. So I didn’t really experienced it, but I saw around me. And there is a concept of antifragile and antifragile is a concept where a company is made to really catch an opportunity in any phase of a market, so when the market is high, they are able to catch opportunities when the market is low, they are able to catch up with opportunities. But this requires a high amount of flexibility. And when I’m talking about flexibility, I mean the mindset of the managers first, they need to be flexible if they want more flexibility. But this is what I don’t see in 99.99% of organizations in Germany.

Bernd Geropp 36:29

I fully agree, especially, I think this is also a speciality of Germany in a positive way as well, that we are very good in small things which we make better and better. But what’s needed in such crisis, you said it is flexibility. It’s a you need to change things quickly. And that’s not in the DNA of most of the of the German society. They are few exceptions, mostly These are small entrepreneurs with small companies. But big companies the 80% or even 90% or more of the population in Germany is based on we want to be secure and that it doesn’t fit with flexibility.

Manuel Pistner 37:23

Absolutely agree, this is this describes it best.

Daniel Guaper 37:27

Is this something companies could adapt with because I think there are so many smart people in this corporations and enterprises. How they could might get ahead of this?

Bernd Geropp 37:44

I think of the, the smaller the company, the better the chance that you can do that. The bigger the company, the more problematic it is. Being I was in a small company, I’m working with small companies, but I also worked for a big corporation. Everything takes much, much longer, which is understandable. And if you want to change something, it takes so long in a big corporation. That’s why I think if a real crisis comes, that will be really tough for the big companies and the flexibility and this would you said anti fragile mindset also is easier to implement if you have one or two leaders go for that in a small company, let’s say 50 or 100. Employee company than in a 10,000 or 20,000 employees company.

Daniel Guaper 38:51

Right,

Manuel Pistner 38:52

Yeah, absolutely agree. So it must. It must be started from the top management from the top leadership. If they don’t, if they don’t do it properly if they don’t take time to focus on the important things and the important things is how to convince other people how to make them experience that this direction is the right one, not just tell them this is the right direction, but show them make them experience why this is the right thing to do. If this is not done properly, then yeah, I didn’t do this properly. So I know why i talk about this, I, I just had something in mind that I and I had a clear plan how I want the company to be I want to be full transparent. My people that work with a company, no matter if it is freelancers, full time employees or whatever, they should feel independent, they should have a clear purpose of what we are doing. So like changing the world of work with virtual teams putting flexibility in the first place. But I just did it. I just had a meeting and I said, guys see this is different. This is the new company. This is the new Bright Solutions. This is Flash Hub that will drive Bright Solutions into this direction. Then everyone was okay somehow excited, but also very afraid because of change simply of change. I didn’t prepare them well. And then I fired some and others left because it was not the company anymore, that they decided they want to work in. It’s a different company with a completely different culture. And at this example, it requires different people. So I would not have been there with my experience where I am right now. It would have taken much, much longer, I’m sure even with only 43 people. But maybe more people would be on board. What I did right now is I completely changed everything. And it’s like building up a new company with new people, new tools, new verticals and so on. But yeah, It was worth doing it, I would just would not recommend it to others because the dynamic here it’s very, very high.

Bernd Geropp 41:06

I would like to add something here and this because you described it very nicely, you were the owner, you could change things. If if you’re a CEO of a big company, you’re still an employee. Even if you think you can you this needs to be changed, this needs a disruption is coming, we need to change our total business model as a 100,000, employee company or corporation. And if you want to do that, even if you find the people if you have a vision, even if you find the people inside the company who would follow you, it still would mean in most of the cases that you need to invest. That could mean in a big company which is on the stock market, that you say okay, our turnover will slightly go down, our profit will go down by 50% for the next two years, but then we will grow again. And the stock market will not follow, you , so the owners, the shareholders will tell you, Are you crazy? Don’t do that. So that’s where I see a big problem in in our world today for the big corporations. Even if they see they need to change, they can’t, because that would mean that they need to invest in a way which a real owner can do because he says Okay, next three, four years, it will be tough. I need to invest. But I will do that. But if you own the stock market, the stock market will not be will not wait that long. They want to have quarterly results. And that’s why you can’t do that.

Daniel Guaper 43:00

Is there any approach or idea, maybe both of you that could help those enterprises and big companies to be more agile and getting in those direction young entrepreneurs or smaller companies can have?

Bernd Geropp 43:17

This time Manuel you first.

Manuel Pistner 43:19

Yes, I mean, I see that there are some corporate startups. So that usually is a good approach to experiment to. To experiment to build up new products that, and most importantly, to create a new culture. Because if you have a small new corporation that is maybe owned by the big one by the mother Corporation, but build up from scratch with an idea, maybe they have access to all the resources that this large corporation has, but they should build up a new idea make their own experience, they should be able to build their own culture that is built for flexibility and Instead of avoiding risks, so this is what I see what corporations do, and I think this is the way to go.

Bernd Geropp 44:10

I think they try to do that. And I understand that way. Makes sense. But the real problem comes later. Because if you have a big corporation, they have their own channels, sales channels, everything, their processes. And then now they start a small company, on the green field. And I agree, they need to be out of the others. And they will be successful. But now think about it. You have a big corporation, 100,000 employees, billions of sales and then you have a small company and they grow they grow quickly, excellent. But after two or three years, they have 100 even if they have 500 employees, even if they do 100 million or 50 million euro sales. The big corporation is still doing 10 billion. You don’t have a chance to integrate them. Now, if you integrate them, this company will become the same, like the big corporation and

Manuel Pistner 45:14

Does this company has to be integrated?

Bernd Geropp 45:17

Yeah, but if it’s not integrated, it will not have an influence on the on the other part. So, the only part there it would be, in my opinion, to have more decentralized companies inside the company. Then this can work. But that still leaves this big corporation with the problem that they say okay, we have here a small company and it’s growing, but what are we doing with our 100,000 employees? They will not change that quickly. That we will not change the culture even if we have this small company who exactly shows us how to do it. We will can’t do that. There. I see a problem and to be honest, I don’t have a solution for it. The only solution I can think about is that it’s like in life, maybe a big corporation than needs to die, and others come up. That might be the solution.

Manuel Pistner 46:14

Maybe the big corporation has a small child that is growing up bigger and then this will survive. But you put this in a very critical face. You say that, if there is a cooperation with 100,000 employees, and they are in the company, like for the last 10 15 20 or even 30 years, it won’t change their mind. Yes. So now there are two opportunities, either let this large corporation move forward into the same direction as it does and then potentially let it die. Or create a new startup that is the new child of this corporation cross bigger, bigger, bigger and will survive or would it be the solution just to release large amount of those people in the company legally, that’s not possible. Pay them something like in German , “bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen or so, and then replace them by people with a new mindset. So of course, this is still a large change. But would this be a solution from your perspective?

Bernd Geropp 47:29

I hope it will not be necessary in that way. Because that if things like that happen, in my opinion, if you look on a society, we are not talking now about companies, but we’re talking about the society. If a society has 5% who are not able to work inside the society, to earn their money, that’s one thing, but if you have, let’s say, 30 40 50% who you say “you are not worth to work for companies because we don’t need you” That’s, terrible. That’s really tough. So I hope that we have the time to change to get most of the people educated in a way so that they still can work in companies. But if it’s, if we don’t are prepared as a society, and I don’t see that right now, then this will be a disruption, which is really tough for the whole society which can go in all kinds of directions, which could even destroy our democratic way how we live, and I’m not sure if the Grundeinkommen is the solution for that. I just don’t know.

Manuel Pistner 48:56

I also don’t know.

Bernd Geropp 49:00

Even if it can be paid properly, even if that’s the case. I’m not sure if, that’s really where we should heading. As I said, I don’t have I’m thinking about that. And I don’t know exactly how to be prepared for this direction. Only to tell the people “Hey, put yourself as a person in that situation that shoes that you have options, learn new things. On the other side, that’s great for people today, even if you said, Well, I’m doing this job for 30 years. So what? Go on YouTube, go on Google and try to learn something else. Totally different. If you if you were an engineer and mechanical engineer, we double you and you’re doing now you can do something totally different. I trust was amazed to see it. I don’t remember his name. He has a YouTube channel called “Der Rasenfreak”. So here’s a guy who’s has built a video channel, youtube channel all around. Greens. Yeah. So where is it? What? No, that’s his hobby. And he makes this hobby as a, can make a business out of that. He has more than 25,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel and just started I think two years ago. So he can think about if I don’t like to work with big corporation any longer, or if I see the big corporation wants to fire me. I have something else. But I don’t but most of the people are Don’t think like that. They don’t think in options. That’s what I think so to change it

Manuel Pistner 51:00

All what you’re saying is what I would hope that people I’m working with do by themselves. So, yeah, if you have a problem, then just ask somebody, if you can’t solve your problem by yourself. There are plenty other resources out there, either in the company or on YouTube or wherever, you know, solutions information is everywhere in place, you just catch it, and you need to use it and then solve your problem. But this requires ownership. You need to understand it’s your problem. It’s not somebody else’s problem, correct the monkey way to somebody else. But this is changing people and you can change people.

Bernd Geropp 51:37

No, you can’t change but you can try to how can I say to to motivate them to go into this direction. So if they are afraid if they say, “Oh, we don’t have security any longer. Yeah, deal with it”. That’s the way how you can do it. And we have a big advantage compared to people 20 -30 years ago. They are It was difficult today, all information is available you need to do. You need to have to start something new to learn you. I’m convinced that if you are able to learn by yourself, you even wouldn’t need to go to university any longer. You can learn anything. Because the information is on your fingertip, which was not there 30 years ago.

Daniel Guaper 52:28

I just found two days ago website where they just recently published over 600 or 800 courses in different universities all around the globe, where I can get free courses in any mather, from engineering over it human resource. What history did you choose the topic you know? So and you get their knowledge for free. You just have to look for.

Bernd Geropp 52:55

it. Just a matter of Do you want to spend your time five hours to watch Netflix? Or do you really dig into a subject which way you are really interested in with which you are really interested in and then try to learn things and then adopted and make a business out of it or be prepared for the next job where they hire you because you are the expert on something you just learned on that.

Daniel Guaper 53:26

Yep. To wrap this up today, I think we talked about learning and continuous learning. Is there any practical tip or insight which can help today’s leaders or entrepreneurs become in inspiring leader or inspiring leadership personality in this unpredictable times? What would that be? Could you give us an insight about yourself we talked about learning is there anything else you would say?

Bernd Geropp 53:58

in general, for all the people I would say my two cents here for for for all of the people, managers as well as employees. It’s some kind of tough laugh, be prepared and thinking options. And the second one for me is security is an illusion. The more secure you want to be, the more in danger you are. There is no real security in life deal with it. We have options. We talked about what what’s available. Now for the leaders. If you’re a leader, show empathy, be a trustworthy person, who others can rely on. And if you do that, that you create a safe environment for your team and your team members. That also helps you in these kind of situations because if there is a safe environment, your employees are more open to talk about problems and failures and you want to know about problems. early enough when they occur. So that’s what that’s all my two cents on that.

Manuel Pistner 55:06

Yeah, what I would say is reward people in your organization for taking risks.

Bernd Geropp 55:12

Yep, very good.

Manuel Pistner 55:13

Snd make give them a stage for sharing their experience. So don’t force people to take risk because or tell them you have to take risks you have to you have many options. So just try something. But they will only learn from experience not from telling them and it’s also possible if some people, some leaders, or whoever in the organization took risk and succeeded with that maybe failed five times doesn’t matter but succeeded at the end. Make this experience available to others and share it with others so that they can learn by listening from them and yeah, they will probably understand that, okay, our culture in the company is not about blaming anymore because this person failed five times and then succeeded. And failing five times does not mean you fail at the end. So failing is a way is the process to succeed at the end. Others can experience that within the organization. I think that is a huge step forward.

Bernd Geropp 56:19

Alright, fully agree. That’s good point.

Daniel Guaper 56:21

Yep. Great. Thank you both so much for this interesting talk was really enlightening. Bernd, when people would like to get in touch with you on young entrepreneurs and founders, how could they possibly find you and get in contact with you?

Bernd Geropp 56:38

I have the big advantage that My name is very seldom. My last name Geropp. So if you google me was Bernd Geropp, you come over to all my website. Websites like Mehr führen were I have the podcast Führung auf den Punkt gebracht or ultimate English podcast, my English YouTube channel or my German YouTube channel all about leadership. So that’s the best way to get in touch with me.

Daniel Guaper 57:11

Yeah, and of course we’re gonna link those in the show notes. So people have it more easy.

Bernd Geropp 57:16

excellent,

Daniel Guaper

Okay, so thanks again you both and see you next time here on Virtual Frontier.

Bernd Geropp

Thank you very much.

Chris Reeves 57:28

I’d like to thank our guest, Bernd Geropp, for joining us today. You can find out more about Bernd on his website and podcasts that are linked in the show notes. For those of you in Germany, you’re not going to want to miss the Virtual team to live experience from Flash Hub on December 12 2019. There’s going to be keynote speakers talking about different aspects of new work as well as food and drinks. It’s going to be an awesome night. There are only 50 spots available. So Register Now, using the link in the show notes. You can subscribe to the Virtual Frontier or leave us a review at Apple podcast. Google Play, Stitcher or anywhere else podcasts are found. On behalf of the team here at Flash Hub, I’d like to thank you for listening. So until next episode, keep exploring new frontiers.

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