Markus Neukom is an inspiring and result-driven leadership coach, business strategist, and CEO of Markus Neukom International. After spending many years of his career going from mid-management to the top, he concluded that he could help those stuck in their careers in meaningful ways by breaking down how to work seamlessly in what are too often unfair and arbitrary workplaces.
He chose a path that led to creating the Neukom Method, a unique and proven successful process that empowers his clients to Short-Circuit Their Inner Paralysis©. While intelligence is prized, Markus focuses strongly on igniting the emotional intelligence of every client to help improve communication, management, problem-solving, and relationships within the workplace.
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Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Markus Neukom: Hi, I’m Markus Neukom, a business strategist and coach, and former Human Resources Executive and Managing Director. I have spent more than twenty years working with managers struggling to perform or progress in the workplace, to the point they either reluctantly leave or increasingly, sadly, are fired.
While intelligence is prized, I focus strongly on igniting the emotional intelligence of every client. I know from experience; often, we are just too close to our situations to see them clearly, never mind seeing the perspectives of those we work and live with.
Over time I developed the Neukom Method, which has consistently proven itself and empowers my clients to short-circuit their inner paralysis.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Markus Neukom: Becoming a CEO was never my intention. I’ve been working as the right hand throughout my career and soon became managing director, second to the president. That said, yes, I was still being led.
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Markus Neukom: My most crucial professional inspiration has been Richard Branson. He puts employees first, keeps them happy, and he inspires them. He had led an extraordinary life full of ups and downs. He embraces his moments of struggles and success. And what I admire the most is his ability to turn his failures into stepping stones for success.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Markus Neukom: I was aware that I had reached a pivotal point in my career. Becoming a managing director at 35 ‘overnight’ didn’t give me much time to prepare. Fortunately, I built solid alliances within the organization and with clients and partners. In hindsight, I wished that I would have had time to prepare myself properly for that new role. On the other hand, life presented me with a practical Executive MBA fast track.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Markus Neukom: After spending many years of his career going from mid-management to the top, I concluded that I could help those stuck in their careers in meaningful ways by breaking down how to work seamlessly in what are too often unfair and arbitrary workplaces.
I am the CEO of Markus Neukom International. I work with managers and top executives to help them discover how they can become noticed, appreciated, and ready to skyrocket their careers—all resulting in living a truly fulfilling life without giving up life balance.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Markus Neukom: I would turn CEO into two additional acronyms required to do a great job. 1) Chief Execution Officer. As Peter Drucker once wisely said: “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately generate into hard work.” It’s your job as the CEO to turn the vision of where you want to be into actions and ultimately the results driving growth. 2) Chief Empowerment Officer. As I once read, it is your job as the CEO to be the head of removing obstacles in your employees’ path so they can get to their greatness. No one else can better influence the way to empowerment. It is a privilege, so act on that responsibility.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Markus Neukom: When I first became a CEO, I expected to be able to treat my employees as a family. I hoped that everyone had the same motivation as me and would pull their weight because of the trust I put in them. What surprised me the most was that higher education does not always guarantee motivation, attitude, or results.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Markus Neukom: A CEO should focus on three pillars of business: culture, people, and numbers
Culture: A CEO should clearly articulate the culture. The culture is the sum of the agreed values and the behaviors that come from it. The culture, for example, defines how we want to react to specific challenges. In sum: An essential role of the CEO is to communicate and repeat the agreed values and encourage a conversation about them until the culture becomes second nature for everyone.
People: It all begins with recruiting the right people willing and able to participate in the culture. I see it necessary that a CEO take a little time to hire the right talents. The same is valid with retention. It’s about letting your employees know that they are essential and that their contribution is being valued. CEOs should reach out from time to time and say thank you and show appreciation for a ‘job well done.’ It always feels good to hear positive feedback from our CEO. It also helps the CEO cement the culture. Let’s remember; your employees are on the journey with you.
Numbers: It’s indeed the CFO’s job to be responsible for the numbers. However, in my opinion, a CEO’s job is to set the agenda for numbers. The CEO must clearly articulate a strategy, showing where he or she wants to take the organization. Communicating goals, where we are, and what it takes to reach them is essential to true success.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Markus Neukom: When I took over as managing director, I faced several difficult decisions. To reconfigure better ways to operate as a business, I had to address the obstacles to the new culture I envisioned. This resulted in having to let go of several resistant employees. This was a challenge because several of these people have been with the company for many years but couldn’t or wouldn’t adjust to what was required to move forward. I hired specific individuals who could and would support the new strategy and philosophy, resulting in a much-needed corporate culture overhaul.
As result, while it wasn’t an easy process, costing me a lot of sleepless nights, smoother adjustments that I even expected came into full flow. Most importantly, clients were better served and more successful in the result. That’s what it’s mostly about, right?
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Markus Neukom: I define success with the following formula I fully stand by:
Success = creative freedom + lifestyle design + financial stability + loving what I do and accomplish.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Markus Neukom: The leadership skills I possess innately are empathy, vision, emotional intelligence, and risk-taking.
Some of the skills I have cultivated are adroit agility, adaptability, decision-making, conflict management, negotiation, focus and result orientation, critical thinking, and cultural intelligence.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Markus Neukom: I helped my client base overcome and manage the challenges caused by the pandemic. Practical examples are communication in challenging times, managing remote employees and teams, as well as keeping motivation and a stronger calmness with themselves and their employees.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting out on their journey?
Markus Neukom: Understand that you do not know everything. It’s important to avoid rushing to judgment. Spend time listening and learning from people already at the company. They often have the answers you are looking for, required to do a great job as a CEO. Never be a CEO who never gets straight answers because your employees feel reluctant to do so with you. Be the person that people can come to. You’ll learn more than you will ever imagine.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Markus Neukom: It’s learning to fly a plane. I’ve taken steps but haven’t had the time to take them to their full level and become a pilot. I still believe this is part of my future.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Markus Neukom: “You can do it too!”
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Markus Neukom for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Markus Neukom or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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