ARGOnews 27 EN, June 2019

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NEWS June 2019 / ARGO news Nr. 27

by Matthew Strauss

If you search on for “leadership”, you will find some 60,000 titles. And more than a thousand new works with the word “Leadership” in the title will likely be added in 2019.

With so much information and so many changing and differing points of view, it can be both daunting and confusing for anyone wanting to develop their leadership skills. What should I learn, and where invest my time? Am I using cutting-edge leadership techniques, or am I in danger of falling behind? The list of to-dos is overwhelming. Restructuring organizations, creating agile ways of co-operation, coaching people, motivating them, developing them, showing empathy, having vision, demonstrating emotional intelligence, building engagement, showing compassion, and on and on. It is easy to lose focus on what really matters, and why we, as leaders, are here, and why we are paid. The answer is simple, but not at all easy. It’s about results, folks. It’s all about sustainable results.

Photo: Jakub Jirsák / Adobe Stock

Mea culpa We consultants are partly to blame for all this confusion. Consultants are masters at repackaging ancient wisdom to make it look shiny and new – and then of course put our own brand on it. If Dan Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence is looking a bit old and dated,

well then, we write a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and now we are sexy and new. After more than 20 years in the people development business, we at ARGO have also been guilty of worrying if we are sexy enough, cutting edge enough, shiny enough. We ask ourselves, “What are the newest trends in leadership knowledge?” “What are the cool concepts that we can bring to our customers?” But not this time. We will not worry if we are shiny, or sexy, or cool. We want results for our customers. We want to shift the world, if even by a millimeter. (We are still shiny, sexy, and cool, by the way.)

The Principles for Getting Leadership Results To support your drive for leadership results, let us highlight a couple core principles to guide us: 1. Know what you want 2. Focus on more action, not more knowledge 3. Go back to the basics 4. Reflect relentlessly

Know what you want If we don’t know what we want, we can’t have it. Most of us (people and organizations) like to believe we are goal-focused. We are not: we are problem-focused. Give us a juicy problem and we will bring enormous resources to bear. But rarely do we ask the harder questions: What do we really want, and is solving this problem going to bring us closer to that goal? We often don’t know why we are doing what we are doing. As individuals, we may live our whole lives without ever asking the question, “What do I really want from life?” Because asking (and answering) this question is scary; it may require change, which is intimidating. It’s better just to stick with the status quo. As companies, we often develop strategies that seem more like Christmas wish-lists for Santa Claus, rather than the product of hard choices of where to invest our resources and leadership focus – and perhaps more Peter Drucker importantly – where not to invest. (Hint: If the strategy process doesn’t require painful, risky, and scary choices, then you aren’t really doing strategy work.)

„Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.“

And we love “management speak”, or vague, fluffy language. We demand engagement, outof-the-box thinking, ownership, accountability, maturity, etc., but we often don’t define precisely what we mean by these expressions and what exactly we want to see from our people and our organization.


Therefore, principle number one is: Know what you want. Define your goals for yourself and your organization in razor-sharp terms. Make your goals so clear that you and everyone else will see easily if you have or have not reached it. The clearer your target future state, the better the chance that you will reach it.

OFFSHORE SAILING as a LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE Join a sailing crew and learn how to maneuver between stormy seas and safe harbors with agility and resilience. Agility and resilience are skills that are critical to success when it comes to navigating the volatile, uncertain, complex and frequently highly ambiguous waters of the VUCA world. Put yourself to the test to find out if you have these qualities in you and cultivate new ones!

As Peter Drucker famously said, “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things”. It is our goals that determine what the “right things” are.

Focus on more action, not more knowledge When it comes to leadership, we don’t need more knowledge, we need more action. It has been 30 years since John Kotter first published Leading Change (and there have been thousands of books on leadership and change since), and yet most companies still fail to follow a clear, disciplined process when leading a change. Dan Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence came out in 1995, and yet empathy is still woefully lacking in most organization and leaders. Jeffrey Liker wrote The Toyota Way in 2003, clearly revealing how Toyota has mastered what we call lean manufacturing, and yet very few companies have managed to build and sustain a culture of operational excellence and continuous improvement (despite investing millions in lean programs and consultants). We don’t need more knowledge, we need more action, more practice, and more discipline. Let’s master what we have already learned, rather than the easier path of just learning more and more.

Go Back to the Basics When a football team suffers a big loss, during the interview after the match, you will not hear the head coach say that they need to develop brand new approaches. You will not hear them say they need to find a football guru to enlighten them with new football knowledge. You will hear them say something along the lines of: “We need to get back to the basics.” What do they mean by “the basics”? They mean mastering the fundamentals of the game: running, passing, dribbling, executing formations and plays, staying Acquiring such skills is best accomplished by actually practicing and experiencing them among like-minded people in a way that leaves a long-lasting impression. Our offshore sailing trip offers you just that – on the open seas and in the safe hands of experienced sailing and business coaches, you will take on different roles and try out, develop and enhance skills critical to your future in a series of exciting tasks. Learn more here:

disciplined – and practice, practice, practice. The fundamentals of the game do not change. The fundamentals of leadership do not change either. Once we have a clear, tangible future state target, razor sharp goals, and a clear focus for our organization (please see Principle 1: Know what you want), we have to do the hard work of determining the processes and behaviors that will deliver the desired results.

June 2019 / We must continuously experiment ARGO news Nr.27 with new behaviors and techniques and be constantly open to insights and feedback as to whether our approach is working or not. And we must continuously adapt, and continuously improve. This is how we help our organizations and people to continuously adapt and continuously improve.

Again, focus is key. What are the few critical behaviors that really deliver the results? And what are the critical leadership behaviors that will bring out those ideal behaviors in our people? Then we, as the leaders, practice (and practice and practice) the leadership behaviors and skills to help our people to practice (and practice and practice) their behaviors that bring the desired results.

Reflect relentlessly Is it working? We have developed a clear vision of the desired future state. We have broken that vision down into measurable targets. We have identified the processes needed to deliver these results, as well as the critical behaviors we need from our people. We have been developing our leadership practices to cultivate the target behaviors in our people. But is it working? If yes, what exactly is bringing the desired results? Can we learn something from this? If no, what can we learn from this? And how can we adapt? What are our next steps, based on what we have learned?

Photo: Alvov / Adobe Stock


Without constant – relentless – reflection, we cannot know if we are doing the right things (behaviors and processes). Nor can we know if we are doing things right (correctly and skillfully). This is the essence of the famous PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle from W. Edwards Deming. PDCA is a learning process, not a control process. And PDCA is the core and spirit of continuous improvement and agility.

The ARGO way It’s about results. It’s all about results. Simple, but not at all easy. And that is why ARGO is here. We support you and your people at every step along the way, from helping you determine the right things to do to helping you do the things right. At ARGO, that is how we help people and companies to be successful together.

Adriana Savic joined us in September 2018 and has been assisting us as a resourceful trainee office administrator ever since. Welcome aboard!


Christmas! It‘s the time of the year when we flock to the open air to savor every ray of sunshine while in the cold winter months, there is nothing better than enjoying a couple of tranquil hours in the cozy warmth of your home. Being helplessly exposed to the elements, without any shelter where you can take refuge from the cold, is inconceivable for us. And yet it‘s a reality even in Austria where not only adults are affected but increasingly children and young persons, too. In 2018, our Christmas donation went in support of two organizations offering help to persons affected by homelessness: Neunerhaus has been giving the homeless as well as people at risk of poverty a self-reliant and dignified life since 1999. “What started out with tea and sandwiches has arguably become Vienna‘s best known homeless shelter today.” The Gruft and its multi-professional team offer active help around the clock, aiming to reintegrate homeless persons into society. We would be very happy if you take a look at these websites to learn more:

As a more practical contribution, we brought all the material collected during our inhouse ‘sock challenge‘ from which Team Silk Stockings emerged victorious, not least thanks to the enthusiastic support of our customers! The ARGOnauts struck out on an investigation of their own, following in the footsteps of those less fortunate in life. They were assisted by Shades Tours (, an organization arranging tours and activities in connection with potentially polarizing issues such as refugees & integration, addiction & drugs or – most relevant to us – poverty & homeless. As experiential education experts, we were shocked by the intense emotions triggered by being directly confronted with such misery. Humbled, but with a much better understanding of the issue, we went to our Christmas dinner held shortly afterwards.

Process Management 2018 marked yet another year of ARGO being represented at the PzM Summit with a workshop, a keynote speaker and our own booth. Just like every year, the event proved an excellent stage for our company.

outlook Our next ARGO breakfast will be held on July 2: It‘s About Results, Folks! Maintaining a better focus amidst a plethora of approaches, trends & ‘musts‘ and what HR can do to improve it. Keynote speech (English / German), discussion & sharing of experiences Speaker: Matthew Strauss, Partner / Host: Barbara Thoma, Management

imprint Barbara Thoma ARGO Personalentwicklung GmbH Heiligenstädterstraße 31/ Stiege 1/ Top 602 1190 Vienna tel +43-1-369 77 00 mail:

I look forward to your feedback!!


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