Podcast en

My Business Coaching Podcast supports psychologically based and practice-oriented leadership, self-management and personal reorientation.

#5 Career anchors or what are your motivators?
My Business Coaching Podcast
#5 Career anchors or what are your motivators?

The new episode of my podcast is about “inner career”, about living in harmony with ones own values and self-image.
In his research on management careers, Edgar Schein, a world-famous social scientist, has identified eight different career anchors. Autonomy/independence and security/stability are two of them, pure challenge and work-life-balance two others. My coaching practice shows that very few people have only one anchor, but usually two or three guiding principles. If these are contradictory, as in the case of my coachee Paul Hoffmann, it can be difficult to make a professional decision. Feel free to listen in!

The conversation in extracts:

Paul has asked me for a coaching concerning professional reorientation. I’ll let him describe his topic himself:


Since our company has been bought up by an international corporation, there are more and more regulations and process rules and standards and I don’t know what else to follow – it’s less and less fun! And two very good friends have also been telling me for some time that I should set up my own business together with them. Their business idea is really good! Because our company has been hit hard by the crisis, I could certainly negotiate a good termination agreement now, so if not now, then when? But I just can’t decide…


At first glance, this actually sounds like a typical decision dilemma: should I go or should I stay? But intuitively I first let my coachee determine his career motivation with my career anchor test. And indeed, it turns out that his two most pronounced career anchors could hardly be more opposite.


The highest test value you get is with autonomy/independence. People with the career anchor autonomy have a primary need to work under their own rules and ‘steam’. They want to decide for themselves which priorities they set and which methods they use. They experience company regulations and rules as restrictive.


Absolutely, that is exactly how it is. The many process regulations and standards leave me less and less room for my own ideas and creative freedom.


Almost equally highly developed is another career anchor, and that is security and stability. People with this career anchor seek stability and continuity as a primary factor of their lives. They avoid risk and are generally ‘lifers’ in their job.


Yes, that is also true, of course. Although I am annoyed by all the bureaucratic stuff, I feel very close to my company. And I also have responsibility for my family. It’s different with my two friends, they’re free and unattached. Their main concern is to implement their business idea, sell their own product and start a company. The involved risk even encourages them.


Both of them obviously have a strong entrepreneurial orientation. This career anchor is only moderately pronounced in your motivational profile. The risk of starting your own business, becoming an entrepreneur goes against your need for security.

Now I would like to explain the model of career anchors. It was created by Edgar Schein. He developed it several decades ago based on long-term empirical studies. He tracked the careers of MBA graduates at MIT. In doing so, he focused on two main research questions:


1) What are the main motivators, needs and goals behind the careers?

2 What are the values behind professional engagement?


So it is about an ‘inner career’, about living in accordance with one’s own values and self-image. And that’s exactly why this concept is so popular and relevant in the 21st century. It is very, very important for many, especially younger, specialists and managers today to realise and develop themselves individually in their careers and express their own self-image.


Our own value concept develops long before the actual professional phase starts. However, it is becoming increasingly clearer through professional experience. So eventually we know what suits us, like “that’s mine” and “that’s not”. Our self-image functions as a compass, but also acts as an anchor that limits our choices. It keeps us ‘on course’, so to speak, or in a ‘protective harbour’. When people reflect on the choices they have made so far, they often realize that they are being pulled back to things they had tried to leave behind. The anchor as a metaphor means this “being pulled back”. The ship can sail in one direction or the other, but the anchor lies in the depths and limits the range of the ship.


In his investigations of management careers Edgar Schein identified 8 different career anchors, autonomy/independence on the one hand and security/stability on the other hand are two of them. By the way, the entrepreneurial orientation that Paul’s friends have at their disposal is a third career anchor.

My coaching practice shows that very few people have only one anchor, but usually two or three core anchors. If these are contradictory, as in the case of Paul, then it can be difficult to make a career decision. Or it can be difficult to find a professional home where you feel completely comfortable and at home.


I have developed a short test that shows my coachees their scores on every single anchor. This resulting, individual pattern is reflected in coaching and together with my coachee I draw conclusions about suitable career options.


What I really like about my friends’ business idea is that the product really makes sense, it is sustainable, climate neutral and I can identify with the idea really well- which is also important to me.


That fits well with the fact that the career anchor of meaning and value orientation is also in the upper range for you. People with this career anchor want to fulfil their values in their working environment and stress the importance of meaningfulness in their jobs.

Work-life balance is another anchor and it also plays a certain role for you. It is important to you to spend time with your children and you told me that you are a passionate mountain biker.


That’s right and I’m afraid that if we start our company there won’t be enough time for that anymore. My two friends are kind of workaholics, and they’re just unattached. But I want to be around my children and I am no fun without my sports.


The career anchors are only one part of the “career panorama”. The career panorama is a model I have developed for my coaches and it is very helpful for every professional and also personal reorientation. Another part of the career panorama are the core competences I presented in the last episode. And there are some more panoramic aspects – but there are also more podcast episodes. However, the career anchors are a very central and valuable piece of the puzzle in the overall picture, precisely because it is about values and values act as a compass for our lives.


For Paul, the analysis of his career anchors was very helpful. He realized that although he needs freedom of movement, being self-employed or starting a own business would be too much of an obstacle in his basic need for security. He decides to try to achieve more degrees of freedom in his current job and we work out strategies and ways to achieve this in our coaching sessions.


I feel sorry for cancelling on my friends, but above all I am really, really relived!


#4 CV - International and intercultural differences
My Business Coaching Podcast
#4 CV - International and intercultural differences

The fourth episode of MY BUSINESS COACHING PODCAST is online!
In this episode I will have a chat with my colluege Lea Menzel, who is the expert in CV matters in our team. Thanks to her studies at the International School of Management, she also knows a lot about intercultural differences in selfpresentation. We will talk about the relevance of a really good CV, the most important do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing one and the intercultural differences in selfpresentation. We will also take a closer look at the Hofstede model, which explains intercultural differences according to five cultural dimensions.

The conversation in extracts:


  • Clear structure
  • Chronologically descending structure
  • Short and clear formulations
  • Full details of all professional positions
  • Match qualifications to job requirements
  • Highlight job title and educational qualifications
  • Time data with month and year
  • Photo in very good quality with appropriate business clothes
  • Check contact information
  • Save resume under first and last name
  • 2 pages



  • No passport photo or private photo
  • Too many different colors or fonts
  • Irrelevant or unnecessary private information
  • Contradictions in content to other sources (online profiles etc.)
  • Grammar or spelling mistakes
  • Cover up gaps or lie
  • Obvious use of patterns and templates

Curriculum vitae

USA: Resume

  • No photo
  • No date, no signature
  • No certificates
  • No date of birth, no place of birth
  • No religion
  • No marital status
  • No salary expectations
  • Optional: Objective or Personal Profile
  • References (or on separate page)
  • Or: References available on/upon request

UK: Curriculum Vitae/CV

  • No photo
  • No date, no signature
  • No certificates
  • Gender, marital status, age, birthplace, religion rather omitted, but is possible as “Personal Details
  • No salary expectations
  • Optional: Objective or Personal Profile
  • References (or on a separate page)
  • Or: References available on/upon request


Cover letter

USA: Cover letter

  • Date: e.g. June 28, 2015
  • Mr./Ms. (with dot)
  • Dear Ms. Smith: Then capitalization
  • Sincerely, (with comma)
  • Subject line between address and salutation:
    Company Address
    Ref: Advertisement in New York Times for…
    Dear Mr. Smith:
  • Return address completed with Germany
  • Phone number with international prefix and e-mail address
  • No salary expectations
  • Concrete announcement follow up: e.g. I will call you next week to discuss …

UK: Covering letter

  • Date: e.g. 28 June 2015
  • Mr/Ms (without dot)
  • Dear Ms Smith (with or without comma)
  • Sincerely, (if after salutation comma)
  • Sincerely (if after salutation no comma)
  • Subject line between salutation and main text:
    Dear Mr Smith
    Ref: Advertisement in London Times for…
    I am applying for the position of…
  • Return address completed with Germany
  • Phone number with international prefix and e-mail address
  • Optional: salary expectations
  • More cautious announcement follow-up: e.g. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this post furthe

German curriculum vitae

  • Photo
  • Date, no signature
  • Certificates
  • Enter date of birth, place of birth, marital status
  • optional Religion
  • optional salary expectations
  • optional references


English CV

  • No photo
  • No date, no signature
  • No certificates
  • No date of birth, no place of birth
  • No religion
  • No marital status
  • No salary expectations
  • references


#3 Recognize your core competencies or: What exactly makes you successful?
My Business Coaching Podcast
#3 Recognize your core competencies or: What exactly makes you successful?

Do you actually know which competences characterize you personally? No? Then you are in good company. Most people can’t name what they are particularly good at. This is due to a typical thinking error: The things we are especially good at are nothing special in our own eyes.
In this episode of MY BUSINESS COACHING PODCAST I will talk with my coachee Steven about the relevance of exactly these core competences in private and professional settings, how I determine these in my coaching sessions together with the coachee and what a so-called “strength shower” is.
By the way: This episode is part of a miniseries on professional and personal reorientation.

The conversation in extracts:

Do you actually know which 3 – 5 competencies characterise your personality and play a major role by achieving your successes?


No? Then you are in good company. Most people can´t name what they are particularly good at. This is due to a typical thinking error: the things we are especially good at are nothing special in our own eyes.  I´ll give you some examples:


“It’s nothing special that I can immediately recognize the two number rotations in a 5-page table” is an example of such a thinking error.


“Everyone has a good friend in every department of the company who can be asked for a favor”. Anyone who thinks that does not realize that he or she is particularly good at networking.


I have actually achieved a sudden insight with a coachee recently. I was able to convince her that it is not a matter of course to speak 5 languages fluently. She really was´nt aware of her talent for languages!


It is one of my major fields of expertise to do career coaching and to accompany my coachees during a professional reorientation. In the beginning we always determine their core competencies. There are several reasons why the core competencies are, so to speak, the core of the career coaching.


Reason no. 1: If you know your core competencies, you can use them consciously and communicate them confidently.


Reason no. 2: The more you are able to use your core competencies in a job, the more successful and satisfied you will be. There are even studies that show that people stay healthier and are more stress resistant if their core competencies are required in their job .


Reason no. 3: The exercise I use to determine core competencies is very powerful and absolutely motivating!

This exercise is called “Success Stories”. I provide my coachees with a set of questions as a guideline and ask them to describe three successes using this guide. These do not have to be “world saving projects”. It can be smaller or larger, professional or private achievements. The main and crucial point is that the client feels really satisfied with the outcome, is proud of it. Some people find this exercise very easy, others really have to think about it. Yet without exception, in the end everybody says: It was a good experience to reflect questions like: “what does success actually mean for me? What are my successes? And how did I achieve them?”


I would like to invite my – obviously fictitious – coachee Steven to tell his success story:


Coachee: Well, this success story is about the fact that I integrated two teams against considerable resistance and led them to a great project success. This success has welded the team together perfectly and today the project is still considered a technological milestone!


It’s already been a few years since I had just taken over my first team leadership. The new vice president was restructuring the organization and in this change process my team and a neighbouring team should be merged. The colleague who led the neighbouring team was super experienced and extremely popular with his team. Surprisingly, however, I was given responsibility for the management of the new, merged teams. No one could be more surprised than me! In retrospect, I found out that the new vice president was very convinced of my strategic abilities because he knew me from two really successful project presentations.


Of course I swallowed at first, but then I was happy and immediately saw the opportunities we would have with the combined competencies in the new team. But of course I also saw the resistance. The neighbouring team could absolutely not understand why I as a youngster was given the leading role – and not their beloved Harald.


What did I do? First of all I consulted my mentor, talked to friends and experienced colleagues. They all had interesting suggestions for me and provided me with new ideas and perspectives.  Then I developed a very structured approach. The starter was an extremely well-prepared acceptance speech, in which it was important for me to be honest and credible and at the same time positive and convincing. I even rehearsed the speech a few times in advance and it was very well received. Afterwards I had one-on-one interviews with everyone, picked up everybody, did a team workshop – the usual things, but very consistent, structured and with personal commitment.


Through my network I then learned about a technically enormously challenging project – with the highest visibility, but also many uncertainties. I decided that I would try to land the project for my new team – quite a risk, to be honest and I had to acquire a lot of knowledge very quickly …To cut a long story short: In the end, the project became a huge success, which welded the team together and still represents a great reputation for me today.


So, what skills and competencies could I gather from Stevens story?


– Well, Steven, first of all you are very structured. You told your story in a very structures way, I immediately knew what it’s all about; and your plan to integrate the two teams was also very structured



– And you are really strategic, that’s why the vice president gave you the leading role


– You are obviously a good presenter, that´s why the vice president spoted you in the first place; and you did a great job on the project presentation


– You have a stable network and you use your crowed as sparing partners. Via your network you learned about that exciting project and got it into the team


– You spot opportunities and courageously seize them – the management of the new, merged team, the prestige project – just to name two examples


– You are really ambitious and prepare yourself very well …


This feedback goes on for a while in the coaching and I call this “shower of resources”.  It’s like a wonderful, refreshing shower to get your strong points and resources reflected!


Steven now tells his second success story. It´s quit technical, so I won´t get into details. The third story is really interesting and completely different: a private success – Steve has organised a surprise party for his best friend’s 40th birthday and managed to have common friends from half around the world on the guest list.


In the end, his core competencies are crystal clear, they are evident in every success story. I invite Steven to present them by himself:


Coachee: I have a high persuasive power through personal credibility, I have courage and a clear opportunity orientation, I approach tasks very strategically and at the same time in a structured way. Furthermore, I characterize with learning agility and willingness to develop and I am an active networker.


Great, and I really do have all these strengths and can prove them, if necessary, through success stories, i.e. through examples from my biography!

Now I`ll give you some background information about Positive Psychology, which is fundamental for my career coaching.


Positive Psychology focuses on research questions like: What makes us happy and content? What lets us stay healthy and stress resilient?  Positive Psychology is strongly linked to the name Martin Seligman. Seligman, a famous American psychologist, has been working for quite some time on the following question: how can people be characterized based on their individual strength?  He has done a lot of research and developed a so-called character strength test. This is available for free in the internet www.viacharacter.org . You can fill out this test online and receive your results immediately. I recommend the test because it is scientifically based. And it is really exciting for everyone who is interested in their personality or in psychology in general. However, the results are not really linked to business related questions.


In my business coachings I focus on core competencies which are typical for the job-related personality. Those who can use their core competencies feel authentic. “That is really me” is what they would say.


There is a very strong intrinsic motivation to use one’s own core competencies and it is joyful to be able to use them. No wonder that exactly these competencies make us successful!


On the other hand it is absolutely demotivating when your own core competencies are not brought to bear. You cannot be effective in such a situation or position!


Therefore I strongly recommend to work out your core competences by writing and analysing your success stories.


By describing your past successes you are writing the first chapter of your future professional success!