Dominik Schneider: “WE ARE NOT USED TO QUESTIONING OUR USUAL LEADERSHIP MODE”
Having worked as a marketing and business executive in large companies such as Unilever and L’Oréal, executive coach, speaker and consultant Dominik Schneider has experienced the pressure to conform to limiting male role models himself. Today, he inspires men to recognise their limiting ‘alpha roles’, to make their leadership fit for the requirements of the changing business world.
DISCOVER GERMANY: How did you become a leadership coach and consultant? Has this always been your dream job?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: I spent 15 years as a marketing executive in large companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and L’Oréal. In terms of content, the topic of men and our stereotypical role models has accompanied me since the beginning of my career. I myself have repeatedly experienced the pressure of trying to fit into the image of the successful male leader who is always strong, shows no feelings and always goes full throttle. Based on this experience, I have made it my mission today to help us men, through an understanding of our own limiting role models, to leadership that is good for us and allows us to continue to be successful in a rapidly changing working world.
DISCOVER GERMANY: What is your ‘Beyond Alpha’ programme? What do you want to achieve with your coaching approach?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: With ‘Beyond Alpha’ I want to inspire men to develop leadership that is good for ourselves and for the people we work with. In this way, we design a management style in which we bring our authentic personality and thus meet the requirements of the rapidly changing business world. Gone are the days when we took it for granted that we were ‘alpha men’. The leader of the future is confronted with new requirements in order to continue to be successful: topics such as self-reflection, empathy, adaptability, diversity and communication come to the fore. From my point of view, it is urgently necessary that we men ask ourselves how we want to overcome the old role models, because otherwise we run the risk of losing our effectiveness in the future.
DISCOVER GERMANY: What are the core problems for men in management positions today? What do you experience often?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: I often experience that we men find it difficult to change in everyday work life because we are not used to questioning our usual leadership mode. The role models of how we have to be as male leaders are deeply and often subtly anchored in us since childhood. We are shaped by the understanding of roles that we are shown at home and through the stereotypes presented to us in children’s books and in advertising: girls wear pink and like princesses, boys wear blue and play with pirates. It’s always about the same themes: men have to be strong, mustn’t cry, have to assert themselves and be dominant. These expectations continue with us men in business.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Why are ‘alpha roles’ often problematic for men?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: In the business environment, where time pressure, tough competition and the need to win are part of everyday life, it is quickly made clear to me as a man that, as a good leader, I have to be strong, know everything, always present myself well, see my career as a fight, can’t show feelings and have to power through to the point of exhaustion. This is not healthy for many of us, because these expectations create a lot of pressure. Today, men have a heart attack rate that is twice as high as that of women. The pressure can also be felt psychologically: five per cent of us suffer from depression every year, with a high number of unreported cases because us men go to the doctor much less often.
DISCOVER GERMANY: How can these roles be overcome?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: There is no magic pill. The whole thing is a process that is hard work. The first step
for me is self-reflection: becoming aware of my stereotypical patterns. I have to ask myself what beliefs I have learned, how they shape me and how they let me think and act. Exciting questions at the start could surround beliefs I have about how a true male leader should or should not be, how these beliefs could be shaped or how my bosses and the company cultures in which I have acted so far were.
DISCOVER GERMANY: How do you help men with this topic?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: The most important thing from my point of view is to get the topic on the agenda in the first place: to recognise that there is a need for reflection and change on the men’s side. I would like to provide information and thus enable men to take a look at the topic. As a man who knows the business world from his own experience, I would like to encourage managing directors to become a role model, to drop the alpha mode, and thus give other men permission to do the same. I offer men a safe space where we can exchange ideas openly, because I’m always surprised how few men have room – privately or professionally – to really open up.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Tips and tricks for a healthier life for men?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: I would like to encourage men to change their perspective in order to realise their holistic potential unfold. I want to encourage them not to be afraid to admit weakness instead of always giving the omnipotent alpha. None of us are one indomitable superman. This awareness leads to reduce the pressure and to treat oneself kindly. And as a leader, it’s an important signal to the team that I lead because it creates a real emotional connection if I can show myself as being vulnerable and encourage others to do the same.
DISCOVER GERMANY: What else is planned for 2023?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: I look forward to meeting new and exciting people, thereby learning even more about the topic and to develop it further for myself. I am currently giving presentations for companies at conferences and in leadership meetings to introduce the topic and raise awareness among the audience. I also offer individual workshops for companies to strengthen teams to enable a mutual exchange about one’s own role models and new ones to gain perspectives. In addition, I work in individual coaching sessions with male leaders to reflect on their own role models and strategies for overcoming them.
DISCOVER GERMANY: Last but not least, what are dreams and wishes for the future?
DOMINIK SCHNEIDER: Above all, I wish that we men in general, but especially in business, realise that it is good for us to put the competition with other men behind us, to let us become allies for other men which is just as important for those who aren’t men; women, for example. I am convinced that we can meet the great challenges of the future so much better if we do this together and on an equal footing!
Dominik Schneider’s offerings:
- Key note presentations for companies to introduce the topic
- Customised workshops for companies and teams to gain new perspectives
- Personal training sessions to reflect on one’s own role patterns and to develop strategies
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