Interview conducted by Maria Willamowius from CoachHub. CoachHub is the global leader in digital coaching. Through first-class coaching, which is offered via the CoachHub Portal, a digital platform. Together with their customers, CoachHub’s focus is to rethink human resources development and support corporate transformation on an individual, collective and organizational level. Read more at https://www.coachhub.com/
CoachHub: Why did you decide to become a coach?
Sabine Wieger: The original impulse resulted from a personal crisis through which a coach helped me develop the strength as I was entering a new phase of my life. I was so fascinated by the coaching experience that I wanted to learn the technique and apply it to my sales and leadership work. That was 12 years ago.
After a few memorable experiences, I gradually developed the desire to influence and change leadership behavior in the business world. To accompany executives on their personal and professional development as leaders in such a way that people remained the focus. After more than 10 years of experience coaching business and executives, I am pleased to see a change – probably also because leadership development and coaching are becoming more and more established. It has been recognized that focusing on the needs of the human being has a positive impact on productivity, motivation, and the bottom line.
CoachHub: What methods and coaching techniques do you use?
Sabine Wieger: It is important to me to work with my coachees as equals; to build a solid basis of trust, to listen, to learn their needs and values, and to ask targeted questions that enable sustainable development. An important aspect for me is the use of methods that are adapted to the personality of the respective coachee; his/her role, and the respective focus that will take them closer to their goal. I work in a very practical way: we take an example based on the chosen topic and work through it. I emphasize coaching the person and not the problem, and aim to facilitate a change of perspective. My many years of experience in leadership, sales, and business development serve me well. They help give me a perspective on everyday problems and conflicts.
I use techniques from “Positive Intelligence”, which help the coachee to see which limiting inner attitudes and/or learned patterns may be standing in their way.
CoachHub: What challenges are executives currently facing?
Sabine Wieger: There are a few that I hear very often at the moment: e.g. dissatisfaction and demotivation due to overly long processes, too many meetings, too much work, too few resources, lack of manpower, no reasonable head-count policy or strategies – only ones that do not allow for mistakes and are purely designed to create pressure. Often I see the risk of employee burnout because corporate cultures are not set up to be agile enough for our current times. Thus, leadership weaknesses become visible and uncertainty arises due to a lack of flexibility and resistance to change.
Many corporations have not yet developed a functioning feedback/error culture, so critical information often does not even get through to top management levels. Many initially courageous ‘feedback’ givers refrain from criticism and transparency because they are discouraged when their input is not valued. I often see that too much need for harmony results in unwillingness for conflict, which unfortunately leads to ideas and innovations being brought about at a slower pace. Under the motto ‘be the change you want to see’ I like to work on these topics with my coaching clients as the first steps to developing an error and feedback culture. At the same time, we strengthen letting go and empowerment processes in leadership, so that increased trust in oneself, others, and the team can develop.
CoachHub: What do you think are the essential skills for being a good leader today?
Sabine Wieger: For me, sustainable leadership development starts with oneself. That’s why it’s important to me that my clients first deal with themselves as a leader, reflect on themselves, and recognize how they are leading themselves. In terms of self-leadership, the following aspects are crucial in my experience: Building and exemplifying trust and appreciative interaction, establishing a fear-free feedback culture or putting one’s own ego on the back burner, strengthening one’s own resilience in the face of uncertainty/fast-moving situations, establishing a growth mindset. Then it will also be possible for a leader to convey appreciation, to treat employees as equals (away from hierarchy to role thinking); from authority, control, and power to trust, meaning, and promoting strengths. And so, with patience and questioning of the ‘purpose’, inspiration, and empowerment, change takes place. When employees understand the meaningfulness of different strategies and tasks, they are able to understand and approach things differently. Strengthened by motivated, productive interaction in the team, the manager, in turn, grows: he or she develops the courage to stand up for his or her employees, create sustainable change and stands up for autonomy and alignment.
CoachHub: One of your approaches is human-centered leadership – what does it involve and how can it be implemented?
Sabine Wieger: This approach is about the mindset that focuses on employees as people. Without a good workforce, there is no successful company. Value your employees and focus on their needs and success will come automatically. Why? Because employees will respond with motivation, commitment, ideas, and productivity. I am very much behind the approach laid out in the 9 principles of Agile Leadership or the Teal approach of ‘Reinventing Organizations’.
It makes me happy if I see management shift to a human-centered (instead of business-centered) mindset and thus invest in employees in a credible way. I am firmly convinced that this is the only way to keep good employees in companies for the long term. We have arrived in an employee market: Good employees have the choice of which company they want to work for. Meaningfulness, compatibility of values, and needs are at the forefront of an employee’s decision for whom they want to work.
CoachHub: Another focus is on Agile Transformation. Why?
Sabine Wieger: The pandemic has shown that the VUCA world requires flexible, adaptable, and fast decisions and processes. However, many companies have not yet reached this point. And yes, this again has an impact on the human factor in the company and its success. It is my role to contribute to and support the process of the paradigm shift so that new eco-systems, new work approaches, fast decision-making, and flexible processes, as well as customer centricity instead of internal focus, become possible. By working together, I can help my coaching clients adapt more effectively to market/world conditions instead of breaking up companies or organizations:
To come back to the concept of ‘Teal’ – Frederic Laloux’s ‘Reinventing Organizations’, whose approaches have already been established in companies of various sizes: The best corporate cultures help their employees link the company’s purpose with their own ‘purpose’, enable transparent and autonomous work focused on strengths.
CoachHub: How do you successfully and sustainably accompany transformations?
Sabine Wieger: I work closely with my partner company LIVEsciences, a team of experts who accompany corporations through agile transformations. My part is to accompany individuals and small groups through the process, or to team-coach top management and executives through the mindset shift and change process. Ideally, you start at the top management level with a clear definition of what ‘agility in the company’ should mean and what you want to achieve through it. The next step (very simplified) is to get members at all levels on board to bring ‘agility’ into the daily work routine, for example by establishing an ‘agile team’, which is supposed to support the entire company to live agile thinking and acting.
CoachHub: Your third focus is Personal Branding – why is that important?
Sabine Wieger: I have noticed in my coaching sessions with women, especially in the last two years, that they often don’t do themselves any favors with how they position themselves at work. It takes courage, self-confidence, and clarity to stand up for one’s strengths, personality, and uniqueness in a company and to make oneself visible in order to be considered for new opportunities. In the meantime, it has become a great concern of mine to empower women to have the confidence to take on leadership tasks and higher positions, to strive for them, and still be able to be themselves.
CoachHub: What are some simple measures to build your Personal Brand? What tips & tricks do you have for our readers?
Sabine Wieger: It starts with clarity about the elements of an ideal job so that you can work in your strengths, based on your values and needs, and in an environment where you feel comfortable, supported, and appreciated. Awareness of what it takes to experience enjoyment and fulfillment at work helps in developing one’s own vision and understanding of oneself. Once the foundation for one’s Personal Branding is in place, we formulate goals, work on the Personal Brand message, communication, and align one’s behavior with the message, and remove inner blocks that stand in the way of one’s strong Personal Brand.
CoachHub: Why did you decide to work with CoachHub?
Sabine Wieger: I was already working remotely and digitally during my time in the US. For me, CoachHub was one of the first companies to successfully establish digital coaching in Europe in a credible way. I love the automated processes, the CoachHub app, and of course the CoachHub team I work with. Having been part of CoachHub since its first phase, I have also had the opportunity to talk about coaching from a coaching process perspective in conversations with potential CoachHub clients.
The company culture really appeals to me. Every person I’ve met so far at CoachHub has been passionate about coaching and fully motivated, ambitious, and committed. It also shows how much CoachHub stands behind the coaching approach by providing every employee with a coach. As equals, and with mutual respect.
CoachHub: What trends and challenges do you currently see in the coaching sector?
Sabine Wieger: For me, it is crucial that the Coaching quality remaintains at a high level, so that each coachee has an experience that is helpful for him or her. In terms of trends, I think burnout prevention, agility, resilience, and entrepreneurship are key topics. The application of coaching techniques in leadership as well as empowerment, enabling self-organized and autonomous working environment, continue to be very important topics.
Whereby for me the most important is, that companies invest in leadership, enabling perspective shifts regarding mistakes and feedback culture, agility, digitalization, and automation of processes.
CoachHub: Do you have anything else you’d like to add to close the interview?
Sabine Wieger: I am very happy that through CoachHub the critical mindset shift to digital coaching is happening. Coaching simply helps in the long term, no matter at what level and in what role.