I don’t want to work for you

“I don’t want to work for you,” I said to Hans, the man who had driven from the south of the country to ask for help. That was quite a statement for me, as I usually don’t shy away from a challenge to help someone further.

Hans had come across my path through someone in my network.

He called me and asked me to support him in taking the next step in his career. Hans* had been a financial director at various companies for many years.
In his last role, there wasn’t enough work for him after several reorganizations.
So Hans was out of work, now in his early sixties, and had been given a substantial budget to explore other work opportunities.
To prepare, I naturally looked at his LinkedIn profile for a first impression. I was shocked when I opened the front door of my office……
Hans hardly resembled the photo on LinkedIn anymore. He looked weathered. I noticed he was a heavy smoker. His clothing choice didn’t look well-groomed either.
My first assumption was that Hans needed help quickly. After the introductions, I asked him, “How can I help you?”

Where is the Gold?

The answer he gave was even surprising to me: “Well, I want to turn it around. How can you help me?”. I indicated that I could tell him exactly after he answered a few questions from me.
Considering his age and the financial support he had received from his previous employer, I asked him whether he had to work or wanted to work.
“No, I don’t have to work anymore, but it would be nice. Gwen, you go for gold. So if you come across a nice golden venture for me, let me know.”
I then asked him questions about his wishes regarding ‘a golden venture’, but he couldn’t give an answer. Later, he mentioned that he wanted to teach vocational students about career development.
For a moment, I thought I had a starting point there. I asked him questions about how he planned to stand out as a career counselor, how he would position himself as an expert in that field and for that age group, and what he thought he needed in terms of personal branding and other matters.
But I noticed that I was increasingly losing interest. Hans was strongly convinced of himself, listened poorly, seemed to have a somewhat unrealistic view of himself and his qualities, had no clear goals, and no explicit question.
The only thing he did have was a nice budget from his former employer that he wanted to spend.
So I found myself saying, “I don’t want to work for you, Hans” and I explained it to him. Hans is not part of my target group of clients I want to work with.
This meeting with Hans was a good test for me: I can and want to work for everyone.

Checklist “Golden Leadership”

I do want to work for clients who:

  • want to maximize their potential and “go for gold”,
  • have a goal or goals in mind,
  • are curious and want to learn,
  • are willing to apply what they have learned in practice.

Are you sure you want to go for GOLD? And do you know what that can mean for you and your organization?
Then I am very sure that I will bring you and your company to your gold!

* = Hans is not his real name.

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