Interview with Frank Vogt14 July 2023
Frank Vogt, Executive Coach and author of ‘DNA of Leadership,’ previously gave an inspiring seminar at Newpeople. Ben Holewijn from Newpeople asks him three questions about leadership.
Ben: “In your book ‘DNA of Leadership,’ you explore opportunities for developing leadership. While reading, it becomes increasingly clear what leadership is no longer about. Can you tell us more about that?”
Frank: “Leaders in the old world can be seen as the archetype of the ‘Wise old man.’ For too long, we relied on leaders as all-knowing figures. But times have changed. Knowledge becomes outdated faster than ever before. This makes this model highly risky in today’s world. Leaders simply cannot know everything anymore. Yet, many organizations still cling to this model, despite the dangers it poses. Organizations in the new world understand this. It’s the reason why companies like bol.com work with decentralized teams and autonomous departments.”
Ben: “In your seminars, you extensively discuss five core agreements that distinguish effective leaders: Expedition, Guide, Trust, Context, and Self-Awareness. Which quality is particularly relevant for leaders in the context of digital transformations?”
Frank: “Indeed, you can see these five agreements in strong leadership teams. The important quality depends on the phase in which the organization finds itself. My advice to leaders is to truly understand where your organization stands and whether you possess the qualities needed for that specific phase. In that regard, self-awareness is the most valuable quality of a leader. In my opinion, leaders often stay at the helm for too long, and that doesn’t go well. As McKinsey shares in its leadership programs: ‘only do what you can do.'”
Ben: “International studies by McKinsey and BCG, among others, show that digital transformations often fail. One of the failure factors lies with CEOs who initiate projects but then fail to demonstrate sufficient leadership. What can leaders of digital transformations learn from your book ‘DNA of Leadership’?”
Frank: “Leaders think that we can change people. We talk about ‘Change management’ as if it’s something you can tick off on a Friday afternoon. My advice is: don’t try to control the change, but create the conditions for change. It comes down to a simple question that leaders can ask: ‘What do you need?’ Engage in real conversations and foster connection and dialogue. Trust that autonomous teams will do the right things and position yourself as a facilitator.”