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Stephanie Borgert: "Every leader needs to think about their way of acting and thinking."

Stephanie Borgert, Complexity researcher & author

In this interview, the Co-creator of the "Culture Triple", Stephanie Borgert, reveals why being stuck in a conflict can't last forever, the most important characteristic of successful leaders and which are the critical factors in building and maintaining successful teams

1. You had a successful career in the IT industry before you started working as a speaker, author, consultant, and business coach. Can you tell us about a time when you had to overcome a significant challenge in your career and how you did it?

There was a change in management in the last company I worked for as an employee. The new boss and I couldn't find a good way of working together. It got worse day by day. So I had to decide: give in and act like he wanted me to do or escalate the conflict no matter what (pretty clear this could end up in "get fired "). I choose to escalate. Some people said: "Are you silly? This is not a way to overcome. "But it is. Being stuck in a conflict with your boss can't last forever. So I escalated it, got fired, recovered, and started my own business.

2. In your experience, what do you believe is the most important characteristic of a successful business leader and why?

To put it in one phrase: mastering complexity. This means that every leader should reflect on their way of acting and thinking. He or she should be trained in thinking in cause-and-effect relationships, expecting the unexpected, being patient, and being able to recognize and handle dynamics.

3. Your writing focuses on the power of complex thinking and its impact on business success. Can you share with us a specific example of how complex thinking helped you or one of your clients achieve their goals?

Think of all the change projects for a moment. Many leaders are used to thinking that people don't like changes and that there will be resistance to change because of that. Complex thinking does not stop at that point and questions this assumption. People are showing resistance when there is nonsense coming along with the change. Conflicting goals, for example, or an inconvenient way of doing it. With those ideas in mind, one can find better ways to invite people to the change project and get rid of all possible obstacles.

4. You have worked with numerous businesses of various sizes and industries. What common themes have you noticed regarding businesses' key challenges, and how do you help them overcome them?

The common themes all end up in "the way of thinking." What I observe, no matter what size or industry, is the idea of organizations as machines. Just do a lot of good planning and "control "the details, then the whole company will be successful. This is an old misconception because we're all acting in a complex world, and every company is a complex system. So linear thinking does not work. It sounds abstract, but this is what we are working on and what leads to different processes, working agreements, and leadership.

5. You have extensive experience in business coaching. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is just starting in their career and wants to succeed?

Get to know yourself. Reflect on your motives, what drives you crazy, what is important in your life, and what you expect from your career, and then take a good look at the "system "you are working in.

6. In your opinion, what is the most important factor in building and maintaining a successful team, and why?

Interconnectedness - this means that the people in the team have to have a need to work together. If it is just co-existence, they will not build a team. Next, the team should be of small size, 4-8 people max. Otherwise, communication will be too expensive. In the end, they should share their mental models from time to time and discuss them to really live in diversity.

7. You have written several books on complexity and how to master it. Can you tell us about a particularly memorable or impactful moment in your life that inspired you to write about this subject?

At a point in my life, I started studying systems theories (just because I was interested in them), social system theories, system dynamics, and so on. Doing that, I had one insight after the other about what went wrong in making my own career as a leader in the IT industry. I got so many ideas of what I could have done differently that I just thought: "This view might be helpful for other people as well. " That day I started writing my first book.

8. Lastly, what exciting projects are you working on currently, and what can we expect to see from you in the near future?

Right now, I am working with qohubs on bringing up learning circles for small groups about significant topics. Learning via discourse is one key to be successful as a team and as an organization. We help to enable that. At the same time, I accompany organizations to decentralize.

9. On February 15, you will be a guest in Zagreb at the Culture Brunch; what will you talk about at that event? Please invite our readers to join the event.

In February, I will give some insights on the topics of failure and feedback. This means we will discuss a systems theory perspective on handling errors, observing dynamics, and finding the right way to influence the systems. I love to provoke and challenge the audience and discuss with them concretely.

💻 This interview was first published at the Croatian web portal "Poduzetnik" (Entrepreneur).


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