Minter Dialogue with Markus Ernsten

Markus Ernsten is a seasoned mentor, coach, and the author of “True Leadership Comes from Within.” In this episode, Markus shares his rich life experiences and insights into what constitutes genuine leadership. He challenges the traditional notions of leadership that prioritize external validation and self-presentation over internal growth and self-steering. With a background spanning engineering, sales, and mentorship, Markus offers a unique perspective on the evolution of leadership in the face of digital transformation and generational shifts in the workplace. Discover why Markus believes empathy, fairness, and respect are crucial in both professional and personal breakups. Learn about the power of gratefulness and how it can transform pain into satisfaction. Markus also touches on the differences in leadership styles across cultures and genders, proposing that women may inherently possess traits that make them more effective leaders.The conversation takes a deep dive into the challenges of leading during uncertain times, the importance of balancing hard facts with human feelings, and the courage required to let go and trust in the collective knowledge of a team. Markus also emphasizes the importance of smaller, more calculated decisions in navigating change.For leaders, aspiring leaders, and anyone interested in personal growth and effective management, this episode is a treasure trove of wisdom. Connect with Markus Ernsten through his website, LinkedIn, or grab a copy of his book on Amazon. Join us for a thought-provoking journey into the heart of true leadership.

00:00 – True leadership comes from within, says Markus Ernsten.
00:22 – Markus is a mentor and coach who helps people improve their lives
02:47 – You talk a lot about gratefulness during your breakup
09:07 – Markus wrote a book on leadership and why did he write it
14:01 – Is this a German centric view or is it mostly global
15:49 – What about German leadership? Is there anything unique or stands out
20:48 – What about successful role models as leaders?
26:54 – There are hundreds of leadership books out there, but why are we still writing them?
31:19 – Integrity is the first step to true greatness, says Charles Simmons
33:45 – What in your experience is the key to transforming your culture
42:39 – Post COVID managers often expect more autonomy, self responsibility, initiative
44:53 – Markus: Leadership in uncertain times is different from leadership in normal times
47:44 – Markus: When there’s uncertainty, a major leader gives direction
50:25 – How can someone find Markus, get your book, hire you

Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to rate it here.

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

Full transcript via


SUMMARY KEYWORDS: people, leadership, leaders, talk, german, Markus, write, aspect, book, feel, kinds, good, situation, empathy, point, understand, behavior, focus, lead, mentioned

SPEAKERS: Minter Dial, Markus Ernsten

Minter Dial  00:06

Markus Ernsten, well, you know, you wrote a book, whose title grabbed me. “True leadership comes from within,” your first book, unleash your inner leader inspire greatness in yourself and those around you very inspiring title. But let’s start off with a little bit more about who is Markus?

Markus Ernsten  00:26

Well, Markus is a 59 year old German, who, as usually in that age, who experienced quite some things in his life. I’m today I’m a mentor, I’m a coach to, to all kinds of people who want to improve their lives, first of all, their business, their success, their happiness, everything like that. And this is some sort of the, also the beginning of the book title, because I found finally, when you start trying to get to all these things from the inside out, then there is a good chance that you are really becoming the leader of your life, because most people aren’t, aren’t leading themselves. So, you just heard you say that they are just, yeah, like, like a ball and a flipper table, they are just kicking from one spot to another and getting bumped further, further away, coming back, getting bumped away again. And I tried to provide some information for people and some help guidance, so that they can change it in a in a way that they can steer the things they do in life, and they go to in their life. So, that’s basically me. And for the past couple of years, I did three things. Basically, first, I already mentioned, I’m a coach, I’m a mentor. Then I was a salesperson, I sold all kinds of technology, software services. And at the very beginning, I started as an engineer, telecommunications engineer. So, that’s me, basically, I have two children. I’m divorced, happily, divorced, successfully divorced. I am. So, my, my ex wife and myself are still good friends. And yeah, I have a son, daughter, who are around the 30s already live their own life. And that’s basically me.

Minter Dial  02:30

Well, we have a lot of things in common. First of all, I’m 59 years old. Okay. And happily married. With a son and a daughter. A few lovely things. So, the happily part as opposed to divorce. But maybe it would be interesting to say, how do you what sort of prescription do you have for a good breakup? And I’m not talking about that just of course, in terms of marriage, but, you know, business partners, what is it that actually makes for a good breakup?

Markus Ernsten  03:04

I think fairness, respect, fairness, appreciation for everything that was because whatever led to the breakup, there was also the opposite, the good things. And I think we should always focus on appreciating the good things. And if the bad things lead us to break with someone or with a business partner, or life partner, then let’s put that appreciation for everything good that has been there in that partnership, to the front, because then it is easier for us to break us in a good way.

Minter Dial  03:44

You talk a lot about gratefulness. And yet the challenge sometimes is to remember both sides to be grateful and not to be acrimonious. You know, you see so many breakups get into money, we’ll get into you did that it’s your fault, the blaming story, it’s not mine, I’m not responsible for this. It’s only what you did. And then we sort of lose the plot as to why we actually fell in love why we joined up, and that what we’re grateful about in the first place.

Markus Ernsten  04:18

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think gratefulness is, is to me, it is a starting point to satisfaction, let’s say the, the pain we fear in in situations where we are really yelling on the situation on other people and all these kinds of things is created within us as well. And if we are able to, let’s say to replace this feeling this emotion that leads to to the pain, then it leads to happiness. And it is just by changing our perspective. and changing our perspective means that we that we should train ourselves to not judge on situations to not judge on people or people’s behavior, because the judgment is what creates feeling in us. And if we are just grateful for having met a person and or just accept that the things happening were just happening, then it allows us to stay much calmer, much happier, much more satisfied.

Minter Dial  05:36

Beings that I find in your book, and I think, in some ways, what you just described is empathy, chain, having the perspective of the other, not needing to judge as you listen to what the other person is saying.

Markus Ernsten  05:54

That’s true. That’s true. I mean, empathy is empathy is also in, in regards to leadership and empathy is, is everything. I think empathy includes all what is good in relationship to other people?

Minter Dial  06:15

Well, if I could, I mean, I’ve written on empathy quite a lot. And I also believe that empathy can be used for negative purpose. If you are trying to manipulate somebody, whether it’s a salesman who’s trying to get the sale, or a sociopath or psychopath who’s trying to nail another victim, by understanding better your emotions and motivations, I can finagle and manipulate you better. So, I don’t believe it’s always positive.

Markus Ernsten  06:47

Well, isn’t that when you when you use empathy as a tool that say, then to me, it is not true empathy. I think empathy itself comes from the heart. And that can be can’t be manipulated. If you use empathy, because you know how it works, you know, how to create it, that expression in yourself that the other person perceives your behavior, like an apathetic behavior, then you are manipulating and then I agree. But then the question to me is, is it? Is it still true empathy?

Minter Dial  07:28

Well, you bring up a point, which makes it awfully difficult, which is measuring empathy, I’ve talked a lot on this the written a lot about this idea of establishing what is empathy, evaluating it, measuring it. So, to the extent that it’s a natural, non-forced concept, it becomes all the more difficult, therefore, to evaluate whether you are genuinely empathic.

Markus Ernsten  08:00

I think the measurement of it is quite a challenge. And I, well, there’s also learning to be as well, right. But finally, I think the only way of measurement of real measurement of empathy is feeling. If I feel you to be truly empathetic, dealing with me, then I feel that I mean, the true empathy, I think I feel. And I also believe that I have the ability to feel if you are being empathetic. I think that could be something like that.

Minter Dial  08:43

Well, it’s sort of like love, or trust me, it’s a little bit difficult to put a number on them. Yet, when you talk about it, in the space of the five years between the first and second editions of my last book on artificial empathy, more than 300 books were published with the word empathy in the title. So, this is a hot, old topic, I should say. Oh, Markus, let’s some ought to probably get back to this point somehow. But let’s talk about how you came and why you came to write this book. Let’s just between you and me, I wrote a book on leadership. And we’re not the only people who’ve written about leadership. How is it that you came to write this book of leadership and why did you write it?

Markus Ernsten  09:29

Yeah, well, that’s. That’s quite a story. First of all, I had a dream to write a book for more than 30 years already. I always I had a couple of attempts when I started writing, wrote a few chapters and then stopped driving for whatever reason, and then never continued writing that, that started book. And then there were was just this, this plan or that goal to have written a complete book at one point in time. And then when I, when I started working in the coaching, mentoring business, and I started as a so called Agile coach and helped organisations with, with digital transformation that occurred, an organizational change and all these kinds of things. And then I’ve noticed that this digitalization, friend requested managers lead us to how do you say to apply different different traits? In terms of leading people, there’s a new generation of people that also came into business that had completely different expectations. And I’ve noticed that many of the old managers or existing managers at the time, were struggling with that. And I was thinking, why is it and I started thinking about analyzing it, observing it, and, and then we, I came to a couple of conclusions. And I’ve just kept it there for a moment. Then another perspective was when I was looking into, let’s say, the big political landscape, what is it that leaders are doing there? How do they behave? How do they lead? What is it that they interpret as leadership, and then I looked also into the big business kind of news, so to say, where I figured out what leaders are doing there. And at one point I had, from all different perspective, I had the conclusion that came to the conclusion that I say, something is wrong with the understanding and the interpretation of what leadership really is. And I’ve noticed what all of these areas had in common was that whatever they did, the whole motivation in being a leader, whether in a business, and I’ve worked with political kind of situations that I observed, or a business news that I’ve read, all leaders were some sort of focused on the outside world, on presenting themselves on getting more for themselves, and trying to secure themselves or whatsoever up to narcissistic kind of behaviors and traits, and that something is wrong there. So, I sat back, and let’s say reflected on my life, because I have my story as well. And I made my change as well. And I reconstructed what I did within that change process. And I said, Finally, as I live today, as I behave today to other people, that is something which I really like, I must say, I’m not perfect. I’m not saying that I’ve still a lot of room for improvement. But I in general, like myself, and how I behave with other people. And how did I get there, I construct it or reconstruct it. And this was basically what I’ve written down in that book. It is my story. It is what did I learn throughout that story? And how did I apply it after I have understood it? And how do I try to let’s say, make sure that I have all the many different aspects, which I’m talking about in my book, some sort of in my daily doings? So if that makes sense?

Minter Dial  14:00

It certainly does. What is interesting in what you said for me was that you look at political leaders, business leaders, and I’m wondering, to what extent that is a German focused viewpoint, or are you doing Hollywood, Bill Gates and Joe Biden, you know, to take an example or Donald Trump, who often get in English anyway, a lot of press with regard to their leadership. But is this a, would you say, a German-centric view, or is it mostly global?

Markus Ernsten  14:41

I would, I would say mostly global, because I have quite an international history in my career. I at one point started working almost always internationally and global organization, international organization. So, I changed my phone Of course, little bit, let’s say abroad, broaden it up, so to say, out of Germany into the world, and of course, there is a lot of German or German language area, Germany, Switzerland, Austria. That’s definitely a big spot in in for me to observe. But I definitely look into Europe and in particular in the American direction, I’m not that much knowledgeable in the Asia Pacific region, that’s definitely not the case. But for the rest, I would say, yeah, quite International.

Minter Dial  15:38

And of course, you wrote the book in English, as I understand it correctly, did write it in German. So, obviously, it led me to think that you’re doing a more international approach. And yet, I’d be interested to hear because we don’t usually talk about that would be a view on Angela Merkel, the German side of leadership. I’m very I talk very frequently with Indians from India about how you have so many Indian CEOs in America, Satya Nadela to name one, but what about German leadership? Is there anything specifically interesting or stands out? Or is it just the same, would you say is what we see in in the US and England and so on?

Markus Ernsten  16:31

Yeah, I was. Well, I’ve talked a lot about these things. Is that a typical German aspect? Is it a typical British aspect, French or whatsoever? And I’m not sure if there is a typical German or British or French or American type or style. In terms of leadership, I definitely believe that there is that there are some characteristics traits, however you call it, which are typical for a country or people in a country. But when it comes to leadership style, I think it is more of a personal thing about the individual. How, how does the individual feel in a certain way of expressing leadership? Let’s say Angela Merkel, for instance, was the calm leader, not very. Not very, how do you say that public or loud in the in the market, like Donald Trump, usually was, but also there are other Germans were the same kind of person, like, like Trump was? And that is the reason why I don’t think it’s a typical German thing. Germans in general are quite, I would say rational. They want to really, they want to make things safe.

Minter Dial  18:00

Eins, zwei, drei!

Markus Ernsten  18:03

Exactly. Solid. on time, on time. Yeah. And these kinds of things that I think everybody who talks about German wherever in the world knows the things about the Germans or beliefs to, to know the things, I think, and they are thought very often, but I don’t think that there is the typical German style, as well.

Minter Dial  18:27

At the end of the day, I mean, there’s actually no specific English style, there’s a great Birmingham, Manchester, England, London, and then within London, a million different varieties. So, it’s a generalization thing, yet I was interested in your filter and how you came to your, to your stories. When you when we talk about generalizations, the thing that I was thinking about as I read your book was, what about male female?

Markus Ernsten  18:57

I think this is a very big difference, I believe. And well, maybe I should say, I came to the conclusion that majority female or women are the better leaders, because they, they, they, they apply and then they maintain trades, which are fitting better into what I think is good leadership. And this is I think, not because they are just doing it better. But there is a non sexual, let’s say differentiation with between feminine and masculine traits, which are more about the let’s say mentality, and female by nature, I think carry more of those feminine things on feminine factors, which are which are good for Word for really what, as I said, and repeat myself, but what I think is good leadership. And there are also many male who have, let’s say, either learned or it has been given by nature, these feminine aspects and feminine traits which they are able to carry and to execute on, which makes them much better leaders and other male which do have less of those feminine factors. So, I think in general, feminine, or women are some sort of advantageous when it comes to being judged as a leader compared to men.

Minter Dial  20:37

Well, I would push back and I would argue that women don’t feel that they have an advantageous filter, as as how people view them. And I was, as I was reading your book, I was thinking, What about successful role models as leaders, so we have you, as you presented it, these are qualities that you like about yourself, and you think that others could benefit from having more of? And then I was thinking, well, actually, what about role models? The problem I have, in my experience, is that the majority of the big leaders that I know and I’ve come across was that they weren’t very nice people. They might be intelligent people, they might be even cultivated people. But if you if I if I throw out a few names on Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Charles Koch, these individuals, I mean, that I was looking up at about Larry Ellison who run who founded Oracle. He is known as insecure, arrogant, brilliant, sleazy, funny, cool and ruthless. Mark Zuckerberg, selfish, caustic, and defensive. Charles Koch, unbelievably self-interested. So, my point here was that it feels like that the need and all the different qualities that you and I talk about, seem obvious to us, but don’t necessarily correlate with too many successful role models. It feels like you need to do everything we’re doing with a knife between our teeth.

Markus Ernsten  22:33

Yeah, that’s kind of let’s say, the society problem, I think we have we are living in in these days, that that success is very often related to, to money, to revenue to profitability, increase and all these kinds of things, maybe personal wealth, or not, maybe definitely personal wealth. But the question is this really success? I mean, to me, success defines a lot of different aspects. And, of course, there is a reality we are living in, we need money and the more money we have, the more things we can do. I’m not saying we can buy but we can do. It’s, it’s about the helping aspects that want you and a good position you’re in good financial shape, you can you can use your wealth to support other people not in giving them money, but creating opportunities for them to pick off or to take off. And what I think we see with these other examples that you have mentioned, they are the type of charismatic leaders who have expressed certain traits which are well, that which are not positive, I would say in general…

Minter Dial  24:01

The ones I was stating, of course, in my positioning, I was talking about fairly aggressively horrible names or adjectives.

Markus Ernsten  24:11

Yeah, absolutely. And I got that, right. I mean, they did. They have many more trades and capabilities, and they have done very good things also, but they also have these other things. But if I think of really good leaders, I’m more thinking in terms of people like Nelson Mandela, for instance, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or…

Minter Dial  24:45

Yes, challenge. The challenge, though, is that these folks aren’t beholden to shareholders and monthly targets.

Markus Ernsten  24:53

That’s correct.

Minter Dial  24:54

They have other legacy components. They have stared down Death. And in some cases, you know, went to their death, as in Martin Luther King, which of course is another form of leadership, like a person who’s leading in war is very different than leading, you know, football team. Yes, I agree, maybe it moves closer, but one is life and death, and the other is just a fricking score on a football score. And yet they’re paid for that. So, this, this performance component seems to mean, the knife needs to be tighter in the jaw with regard to being a good guy, being someone with whom you’d want to have lunch with, with whom, to whom you would give being a godfather to my child, because maybe they’re wealthy. Alright, so that’s one version, you know, the powerful and wealthy they get my child a job. But on the other hand, what sort of values are they presenting, and it feels like, from consistent, the challenge, or the paradox with great leadership, is that there’s the definition of success, but they’re also needing to manage the tension between things like ambition, and consensual illness, collegiality, or being having a backbone, and being agile and flexible. Number, How about having a target market, but also being inclusive? I could mention having self-control, yet having passion. There all sorts of different things that go into it. And some of these things that you actually talk about, of course. And so, I’m wondering, let’s say maybe my key question here at this point is, you’ve written a book, I’ve written a book, there are hundreds of leadership books out there. But why on earth? Are we still writing them? Is what is it that stopping people from reading your book and actually getting it?

Markus Ernsten  27:13

And that’s a very interesting point. I mean, very good question. Love it. I think, first of all, the if you if you look a little bit away from just the leadership topic, and looking more into life and nature of life, and we, we must come to the conclusion that in life, and in nature, everything gets balanced somehow, right. And there is always, there’s always a good side of things, and a not so good or bad side of things. And in the end, somehow, some level of balance is going to be achieved in things that are happening. And there is there is two options for everyone living on this earth. The one is, you aim for creating the balance you need to have in your life yourself. And try learning and doing things that allow you becoming better in balancing your own life, or some higher force is making sure that you get balanced in a way that you might like or not.

Minter Dial  28:23

So, that suggests that there’s fatalism in that when it’s sort of it’s that’s what it is out there as opposed to the agency and the determination or self determination that Enron talks about.

Markus Ernsten  28:41

Not sure if I understood you have that question?

Minter Dial  28:43

It’s not a question. It’s more a comment. Okay. The idea that it’s that way. For example, you talk about balance, but I might talk about zero sum game. Okay. It’s a balance. It’s zero… some winners, some losers,

Markus Ernsten  29:02


Minter Dial  29:03

Some die, some survive.

Markus Ernsten  29:06


Minter Dial  29:06

This is another way of looking at it. So, I thought I’d throw it out that way.

Markus Ernsten  29:10

Oh, yeah. That’s also a good point. But then, well, the whole story is super complex, right? There’s so many aspects to it. But if we think of that, zero sum game, then this would mean that whole nature is kind of being existing, to at one point become zero, nothing. But I believe that the nature of nature and the nature of life and the reason why we are all on this planet is to grow. So, growing in my understanding and interpretation of what you just said, excludes the zero because when we start At one point, and we, we believe that this growing series theory is one, we need to, we need to follow and we need to, let’s say aim for, then we can’t get back to zero. When we do what we have to do, and this is my, this is my beliefs. And I say, Well, I’m here to grow and to grow means I learn, I educate, I train myself to come a better version of myself continuously. And there is no limit, there is just at one point in time there is an and then my physical body at least disappears or has to go whatever. But up to then I have the option and the possibility to grow constantly. And this is what I believe in. And this is what where, I think, is the essence of true leadership that we have, first of all understood that. And secondly, are working on ourselves to develop continuously finding continuously, ways to grow further. And then that can’t be a zero sum game.

Minter Dial  31:17

Well, you know, it’s fun, I love this conversation, because you talk about integrity, or you have a quote, in your book about integrity. Integrity is the first step to to greatness. So, for me, an integer, would be one. And that is a quote from Charles Simmons that you have in the book, is we have one. And that is we are one, we this idea of We Are One. And yet as you just said, we die. And so, we ended up as ashes or, you know, some good food for some worms. That doesn’t feel like a one that feels more like a zero, or some sort of reproductive infinity.

Markus Ernsten  32:07

It if you think that our body is us, then that’s true, probably. But I don’t believe that it’s just this is just my body. There’s much more, I believe, I don’t know, I have no proof for that. But I believe it. And this is this is what keeps me going. I don’t believe in that. And I just, I just think, well, this body at one point in time gets so tired, that it can’t continue anymore. So, it has to be replaced. If that makes sense. And there is my soul, which kind of develops further, it grows, it grows further.

Minter Dial  32:50

And I of course I understand and your book is filled with spirituality, which is lovely. And you say that when you start referring to Gandhi or Mandela there, you can understand or Martin Luther King, you can understand that that’s part of what drove them as well. And I suppose at the end of the day, in a more prosaic, less spiritual or less religious way anyway, the idea of legacy, the obituary, what’s on your tombstone? Or at least the memories of you is what counts? And you don’t need to be spiritual even to think about that. But it’s interesting this idea between 01 and infinity. Yeah. I feel like I need to write about that somehow.

Markus Ernsten  33:39


Minter Dial  33:41

We should write about that. It would be fun. Well, you talked about transformation just now. It’s a constant topic. We know whether it’s moving from one software to another, Mac to PC or, you know, the new version of SAP (German  product). These things are transformational, require differences. What in your experience is the key to transforming your culture?

Markus Ernsten  34:19

Oh, that’s a multifaceted question. And I try to answer it in the context of everything you just mentioned. So, if I look, if I look at transformations of large corporations, and let’s take that example of migrating from an old SAP system into a new SAP system in accounting…

Minter Dial  34:42

By the way I did that, right, so I am currently doing exactly what that means.

Markus Ernsten  34:47

I’m currently doing that. So, I’m helping that client to let’s say, look at the at the things that I believe are important. If you are working in that section environment then you know, that all people are focused on the system. And all people are focused on when other downtimes of the system landscape, when can they develop us continue develop tests, what they have developed, run certain tests, off of the program, etc, everything is focused on processes system and software.

Minter Dial  35:28

Very engineer, very engineering…

Markus Ernsten  35:31

Absolutely, we must follow the system, right? And I have a very interesting conversation with one with a with a program manager, who always said, I recommend him to treat his colleagues in the business as his customers. And he always says, Well, I don’t agree with that. And I don’t do that. And I think they are still colleagues, if any, if I would treat them as customers, then I would create a master slave situation or relationship. So, well, you have already created that master slave situation, but you made the systems the master and the peoples the slaves. And he of course disagrees, because he’s completely technical. But this is what I think makes transformation or would make transformation successful when companies start focusing or prioritizing the human aspect of such a project. Because very often, there is a change in processes change in, in the behavior and the work behavior of the officer users, and all these kinds of things. And for many people, this is a really big change. And those people are very often the ones who earn the money that pays for the new system. Because they are in the business, they make sure they produce good products provide good services to their customers, so that they have plenty of customers who will happily paying the service offers the service they are receiving. And if we understand that, then we also have a much better situation, I think, to increase the acceptance rate, for instance, often new system in the user field, we have a much higher How do you say that much more effective. transformation process when it comes to training, when it comes to introduction, when it comes to whatever you name it, there are so many, many aspects. And this, I think, is making a transformation that we focus more on the human side of things, and put the people, the users more in the focus of what we want to achieve was the system. And not we must migrate from one system into another system within a certain timeframe with a certain scope or functionality for a certain amount of budget. And that that’s what happens today, typically, and this is I think what we need to change.

Minter Dial  38:24

Right? So let me throw a little wrench into your thinking, okay, because that’s how I roll. What about shipped or hard ship with a P? In other words, change is actually difficult. And sometimes you just got to suck it up. Yeah, in some days, you need to do 18-hour days because we need to go live on Monday at six o’clock in the morning. work over the weekend. That doesn’t sound like a very human approach. That doesn’t sound like a very nice, it sounds more like slavery, or, you know, hard work. And in today’s world, I feel that we saw suffer the issue of not being able to suffer, that we must take into account everybody’s feelings and be very inclusive and be very worrying about everybody’s situation. Well, at the end of the day, it ain’t going to go live at six in the morning on Monday morning, if that’s what we spend all our time doing listening to everybody moan on about their situations and their feelings. Now, what?

Markus Ernsten  39:45

I’m not saying we should not look at it, I talk about focusing and focus focusing means not excluding. When we today focus on these time, scope and budget aspects, then we also look at the change aspect and the training aspect. And we need to carry the people with the project so that we don’t lose them. So, it is there, I just, I’m just talking about to shift it up the chain puts a training change people aspect, as a higher priority than all three time, scope and budget, we need to be, let’s say flexible in at least one of the three, we need to have set the maneuver all these possibilities to maneuver, at least at one aspects of that triangle in order to be able to focus more on the people aspects. And this is what I’m talking about, we can’t avoid these kinds of things. And we also need to have some, let me call it strictness in, in certain situations where people just have to do what needs to be done. And I know totally friend of that. But I think like the mod exclusively.

Minter Dial  41:10

It does. You mentioned how, when I asked you a question, it’s multi layered, it’s multifaceted. And reality is that this is got to be a nuanced conversation. And if there’s a reason why leaders continue to struggle with hybrid work, host COVID situations, me too, and other things, is that it’s about finding that and use your word balance between hard facts and feelings. And if you go to feelings, or their competitors are going to you up, or you’re going to be taken advantage of, you know, if you’re to systems and processes and facts. Well, you know, people are going to look at you like a dick.

Markus Ernsten  42:03

Yeah, that’s true. I mean, the thing is, there is a, there is a, or there are many examples of companies that have tried and successfully tried to change their focus from focusing on systems processes and facts into more, let’s say, people, the human side of things, putting it in a higher focus. But for there are very, very simple and maybe just switching and jumping a little bit in between. But there was one example that came up to my mind when you said, post COVID behavior of managers, managers and leaders are often expecting from, from the people from the from the teams, more self responsibility, more initiative, more responsibility, or autonomy and all these kinds of things. But post COVID, at one point, they asked, or they command people back into the offices, because it feels better for them. The control thing, right? How can I talk about self-responsibility, autonomy and all these kinds of things, but then commanding people back into the office because it feels better for me, these and these kind of contradictions. You see, very often, I think, where, and I think this is a question of courage, where, where many, many of the leaders are not really prepared to leave their comfort zone, they perhaps understand the advantages of a change behavior of their change behavior, but they, they haven’t the courage to really do it and try it.

Minter Dial  44:08

Or they don’t have the courage to make people feel uncomfortable. Because in the end of the day, you know, the number of times I’ve had meetings online like this, and the other meetings where I have a beer between us, we’re sitting in a noisy place and I can smell flowers outside. I can hear other people talking. Yeah, it turns out I feel that is a lot realer than in general. And that the ability to establish trust I can see your whole body I can maybe even smell you like you know, we’re I can see how in real WE ARE WE operating because I feel like there’s a lot of performative madness with regard to a screen that’s in between us. I want to finish with Microsoft on one last area, which is with regard to leadership in ns. Certain times, not a people talk about oh, these are uncertain times we got the wars, we got the inflation, we have economic uncertainty, political, diabolical situations, you know diatribes being spewed out everywhere. Leadership in uncertain times. What and how is that different from leadership in certain times?

Markus Ernsten  45:30

Well, my first my first impulse to answer you was set was a counter question, asking you is our leadership required in certain times? When everything goes, well, then everything goes? Well, you could think of that it is not the case. And we both know that. But that was my first my first impulse. I think, when it went when times getting tougher, the most and the most valuable trait of a of a good leader is to open him or herself up in order to make decisions to open up for more discussions, more conversations with the people around you, these kinds of masterminding effects that you could make benefit of, or may benefit from, that allows you to, to use the collective knowledge of, of a well selected group of people maybe but opening up in that way and, and really trying to, to get solid opinions to get a solid base of information before you make the decision. That’s one aspect, definitely, I think. And the other one I would like to mention is that the size or the range that the session covers, so to say, must be smaller. So, that you this kind of baby step type of approach, you take more smaller decisions or decision with smaller effects, then just taking one big decision with a very big effect, potentially.

Minter Dial  47:26

That sounds like encouraging less risk. Because of the uncertainty. You know, if you do the big, the big Schumer leader or the big, you know, the big lie, the big dream, the big aspiration, and you get the direction a little wrong, oops, you’re going to get paid for it. It’s interesting, you talk about this idea of opening up the I think the issue in so many cases is that when there’s uncertainty, there’s two things. One is the, the tendency to want to micromanage. Because they don’t know how to do this stuff. You know, I do look at me my experience, I’m 59 years old, I’ve done this stuff you do as I tell you, and you know, I want I’m really worried about everything, because I’m manifesting my worry, as opposed to letting go our of letting go. At the same time. A major leader also gives direction, in you know, I feel terrible, and I mentioned this, but something like Winston Churchill, in excess, my frame of reference, you know, he was like, This is what we’re going to do. The ship is hitting the fan, but this is how I want to leave my ship. We are going to do this. And people follow in because in chaos in pandemonium, you know, everybody’s feeling oh my god, are we going to survive? What should we do? And I’m going to help you. Let me follow my light, follow my lead. So, this notion of letting go busting and hopefully well recruited individuals, but there’s also the need to give direction and show leadership above the storm.

Markus Ernsten  49:14

I totally agree with that. But what I was referring to is that in uncertain times, you have to build things up. And you might build them up, up to a certain point where let’s say there is no movement, there is probably frustration or even destruction that that you are facing. And in that situation, you as a leader you step up and say, Okay, this is a situation. Let’s go for that. If we don’t make it, we don’t make it but if we make it it will be our success. And then I think that’s definitely behavior and trade off of true leadership to do that as well. I completely agree.

Minter Dial  50:00

It feels like, Markus, that would be a way of embracing our mortality in the end of the day factors that we do die and that companies will stop. But if you can’t if you’re only worried about that you’ll never move anywhere. Exact I’ve very much enjoyed this conversation I feel very stimulated I hope those who have listened have enjoyed and hope you Markus have enjoyed. So, for those who are listening and have still on with us, because you never know we’ve been on wobbling on for you know, this so many minutes. How can someone find you get your book for hire you? What are the best ways to connect with you, Markus?

Markus Ernsten  50:41

Well, I run my website, of course, it’s Michaels dash The link to that webpage will be in the show notes. I’m quite active user of LinkedIn. I sell my book through Amazon and all the links you will find in the show notes I and a couple of more Facebook, Instagram, all the things I’m doing. Yep. And that’s it basically. And just to close it up. Also from my side mentor. I definitely enjoyed that conversation. It was really fun. Very interesting, inspiring. I appreciate very much that you have me on your show. I’m really grateful for that. And yeah, I wish we stay in touch and have maybe the opportunity to write a book together.

Minter Dial  51:33

Or at the very least have a beer together will work.

Markus Ernsten  51:36

Yeah, that would be a good starting point already. I agree.

Minter Dial  51:40

I had a friend who wrote a book because someone completely disagreed with him and said, Alright, listen, there’s better a book. Anyway, we’ll start baby steps, as you say. Anyway, Markus, fantastic. Danke sehr Schön.

Markus Ernsten  51:51

Thank you so much Minter. Great pleasure.

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

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