Instilling confidence, inspiring performance, and empowering effective leaders in challenging times requires high levels of flexibility and insight. Sonja Weber, a shareholder of Frankfurt based management consultancy FocusFirst, tells us more about their award-winning strategies.
Many industries are undergoing increasing levels of change as corporates look to optimise their assets and transform their operating models. Yet, whilst the pace, complexity and scale of change forces transformation, organisations often lack the internal skills, experience and expertise to react effectively.
Formed in 2016, FocusFirst GmbH is a relatively new management consultancy working with entire companies, organisational units and individual teams to transform, achieve goals, and successfully adapt to new dynamics. With projects ranging from supporting leadership changes, projects requiring acceleration, post M&A integration through to modular professional leadership programmes to build leadership and stakeholder engagement capabilities, FocusFirst has been named as a ‘Top Innovator for 2020.’ We speak to Sonja Weber, who has been with FocusFirst from the very beginning, to learn more about the innovative company and the secrets of its success.
Management consulting in itself is a fairly broad field, yet you describe your services as a specialised niche, calling on a range of skills, qualities and characteristics and a real passion for transformational success. Firstly, could you tell us a little about the attributes you consider vital in your projects?
It’s true to say that no two days will ever be the same. Customer expectations will differ, there’s pressure regarding time schedules, a need to fully understand the complex issues of a range of industries and sectors, coupled with an ability to remain focused and determined.
Personally, I’d say that passion, courage and strong communication and social skills are real must-haves. These allow to engage with stakeholders and communicate with a consistent, professional approach which can only be maintained through a thorough understanding of the human psyche.
However, the best engagement skills can only serve me if I know exactly what I want to communicate: my particular goal. For transformations to be successful in the long term, this goal is best linked to a shared vision and shared identity in the organisation. Leading on from this is the ability to think creatively – the reason for hiring a management consultancy such as FocusFirst is to gain new perspectives. The closer you are to an organisation, the less able you may be to pinpoint potential weak spots. We speak to stakeholders, analyse facts and figures, identify areas for improvement or acceleration and then implement tailor-made solutions along the transformation journey.
A very interesting insight. You mentioned understanding the human psyche there, and that’s been a major part of the winning philosophy behind FocusFirst. What differentiates FocusFirst from traditional change management providers?
Having spent many years in the corporate world and also combining that now with experience in consulting corporates, we observe certain similarities in leadership and approaches to achieving goals. All too often, projects or transformations fail because of a whole range of obstacles in an organization, and change management alone is not the answer.
FocusFirst was founded on the principle of staying on course until you cross the finish line, and achieving this together rather than against each other. Elements from the worlds of neuroscience and success psychology can easily be transferred into the corporate environment to make achieving goals a faster, favourable and more enjoyable process. We’ve applied the most impactful strategic consulting, communication and successful psychology elements to create our unique ‘Inspired Focus’ approach.
Inspiration is emphasised predominantly within the FocusFirst brand message. Could you elaborate on why it’s such an important feature?
We strongly believe in the power of inspiration and like to think of ourselves as ‘Corporate Goal Achievers.’ A shared inspiring vision creates energy which can be released and purposed throughout projects, and this is an ethos carried through all our work. For example, our goal is to open an office in Singapore by 2025. At all our team meetings and workshops you’ll always see a picture of Singapore with our company logo adorning a skyscraper. This visual representation keeps us all focused and determined on achieving our mutual personal vision, and also trains our mindset towards the individual goals of our customers.
As experts within the transformational management field, would you say that being able to incorporate these innovative practices requires in depth understanding of corporate culture?
FocusFirst works with international corporates and global brands as well as medium to large-sized organisations, and it’s important to implement relevant and targeted solutions. We strongly believe that common values and culture are essential to define what the state of success should look like after the transformation. The FocusFirst methods enable us to identify which measures are necessary to focus individuals towards achieving this state. After all, we want to create something meaningful and touch and inspire people.
However, time will never stand still, and there’s a constant need to innovate. We’re continuously updating our approaches with the latest insights from our work, best practice and science. Combining this with a steady exchange with our customers to understand their industry sector, culture and requirements, we believe this stands us in good stead when providing solutions to successfully accelerate transformation journeys.
Empowering employees to achieve is an overwhelming passion of your CEO and Founder René Esteban and has resulted in the publication of his inspirational ‘Do Epic Stuff!’ leadership book. Could you give us a bit of background to this?
René has always been fascinated with what makes people successful, and this is a natural progression in sharing the insights and experiences learnt along the way. It’s a subject close to René’s heart, and it’s therefore noticeable in everything we do here at FocusFirst – to encourage and inspire others to realise their visions and achieve their goals. The real-life stories of a diverse range of industry leaders portrayed in the book show that anything is possible once you find your passion and stay focused.
Further information on FocusFirst, its services and programmes can be found at the company website www.focus-first.com