The participants of the meeting are staring at Mr Boehmer with anticipation. His opening question, “How can we become more powerful as a team?” has obviously not been understood as a question. His management team, seven strong, doesn’t feel involved in any way. As always, they are waiting for Boehmer to know everything and deliver the answer to his own question right away. Which he most often prefers. That’s because firstly, he has an excellent understanding of the business (he has been with the company for 35 years, after all) and secondly, he hates group discussions. For him, such situations always bear the risk of having to talk about things that have not been thought through to the end and half-baked ideas, which leads to more confusion than order. In the end, it is up to him to decide anyway.

But this time the anticipatory faces are making him nervous, even a little angry. His company’s performance leaves a lot to be desired within the group. And yet, he has no real idea why this is the case. Which is why he has decided to talk about this openly with his team. And now this. No one says a word, the room is filled with a wait-and-see silence.

Think about it: why should employees suddenly become active when they are used to being directed from above? It could become very dangerous for any individual to suddenly venture forward if open dialog has never been a part of the everyday conduct of teamwork within the organization. Directives convey security, they are time-efficient and prevent friction loss. Yet they also inhibit thinking, imagination and people’s freedom to act. Which are all ingredients for successful change.


  1. A manager can only enable and support dialog by meeting his staff with an attitude of trust and confidence. This makes people develop the courage to come out of hiding. Every now and then, question how you think about other people and your attitude towards specific employees. Personal coaching could help you achieve this.
  2. Create room for teams to think. Through specific rules of open listening, inquiring and letting others finish, you can tap into the kind of intelligent knowledge you need for situations of change.
  3. Experience how liberating it can be to have the final say in a change process, but do not carry all the responsibility alone.