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Daniel Eckmann

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It’s about attitude! Why talent and hard work is not enough

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Some weeks have already passed, but looking back at the Handball World Championship, there are a few realizations that stuck to me and which can be applied to any job. One of them: passion is an important ingredient for success.

In January, Germany’s national handball team was not exactly among the top favorites to win the world championship title. Compared with a number of competitors, our team lacked a superstar this time. The experts’ forecasts were therefore rather cautious. Yet the team fought its way through to the semi-finals and surprised even the skeptics with its fighting- and team spirit.

About half a year earlier, the initial situation at the FIFA World Cup in Russia was different. Our team: studded with stars from all of the top European soccer leagues. The expectation was quite clear: We would get through to the final, winning the World Cup would be a mere formality. But it wasn’t, as sports fans like me were sad to see. The team didn’t function. It lacked passion, courage and team spirit.   

Less Quality, More Success

What does that teach us? Why can teams of objectively lower quality still be successful? Talent and hard work alone do not appear to be the key to success. There is more to it than that. Again, Handball has the answer. Coach Dagur Sigurðsson, who led the German team to success in the 2016 European Championship, reduced it to the following formula:

Performance = (Talent + Hard Work) x Attitude

Puzzle-pieces within the silhoutte of a head on magenta backgroud.

Talent and hard work alone are not enough - it's about the individual mindset.

For me too, after many years as “coach” of a successful Inhouse Consulting team, it is clear that even with the best and hardest-working people in your team, the results can be good and yet no more than average. As a coach you must spark the passion in your team. Your people must be eager to exceed expectations and go the extra mile together. And I stress: I’m not talking about the time that colleagues spend on a job. I don’t want round-the-clock consultants. Handball players have just one hour to win. What matters is the individual mindset of the players in the team.

Our Values: Drive, Trust, Grow

What attitude should an inhouse consultant have? How can the suitable values and elements be defined for us? Because we in our team work with a maximum of participation, we have discussed the answers to these questions intensively and in several rounds within the team. The joint result of this intensive debate on the optimal ingredients for successful teams: DRIVE - TRUST- GROW.

Courage to Express One’s Own Opinion

Drive is reflected in our high level of intrinsic motivation to take topics to the next level and achieve the best results for Deutsche Telekom and our customers. The key question is how we would prefer to co-operate with our customers. To make it quite clear: in our projects, we don’t want to sit on the passenger seat. Rather, we aim to shape the project, to help determine the direction, to offer our customers alternative perspectives. For that we need expert knowledge and, above all, the courage to express our own opinion. That is something my entire team has internalized. Thanks to our Drive principle our young consultants are already delivering decisive impulses in their projects.

Outcome: Knowledge and courage make us important drivers in the change process at Deutsche Telekom.

Five hands cross above a desk

Shared values make us more successful.

Making Employees Stronger

Trust means for us creating an environment in which people have the courage to contribute their ideas and to inspire others with them. In other words: my leadership colleagues and I consider developing our people and making them stronger to be an important task. We have tremendous talents coming to CSP. We must ensure that we give them the basis to evolve. The most important requirement for that is that we speak openly about what we think and to support one another with feedback. It is clearly not a one-way street from top to bottom. At CSP, young colleagues provide experienced colleagues with constructive feedback—and we expect them to do so. Clearly, if you experiment you are going to make mistakes and, naturally, you may make mistakes. But nobody at CSP needs to be afraid of making a mistake. We have implemented an error-culture. Because I need proactive colleagues and leaders. I prefer that they risk making an occasional mistake than sit back and do nothing for fear of making one.

Outcome: The Trust principle has led to an increase in job satisfaction and productivity.  

Everybody Wants to Grow

Grow describes our personal growth path. All of us—my experienced fellow-consultants and our juniors alike—want to develop ourselves further: personally, methodically and professionally. We thirst for knowledge. We are curious for new approaches, techniques and perspectives. We love complicated subjects such as 5G or AI. We discuss them regularly with experts and research tirelessly. We want and need to be at eye level with our customers. And what my colleagues want is not just to promote their own development. We experienced consultants are no less pleased to see our junior consultants increasingly stand out from the crowd. We are proud when they grow and do everything to ensure that they do. We invest a lot of time: once a week every employee discusses with his manager the progress that has been made in the project and his or her personal development.

Because we live the Grow principle consistently, we regularly grow beyond ourselves and make sustainable impact. That is why, in job interviews, applicants who are especially ambitious and thirsty for knowledge are the ones who make the run.

Shared Values Make Us More Successful

Drive, Trust, Grow: These are values that can’t be imposed from above. We live them. They are a part of the Center for Strategic Projects’ core brand. Together we ensure that we protect and develop them. Because they promote the passion that not only the Icelandic handball coach Sigurðsson considers so crucial. That’s why our team is so successful.

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