From sales manager to strong brand: Heiko Lemke – a manager with attitude
Heiko Lemke is sales manager at Wütschner Fahrzeugteile GmbH. Wütschner – with today 450 employees at 21 locations in Germany – distributes automotive spare parts and accessories to workshops. Lemke, a native of Lower Saxony, grew up in the Lüneburg Heath. Today he is married and has three children. On his professional path, he has always been driven by his will to create. This is the only way to explain why he left his favorite city of Hamburg to seek a new professional challenge in Schweinfurt in northern Bavaria. There, he worked for the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichhafen AG prior to his current assignment, where his responsibilities included the development of workshop concepts.
The interview with Heiko Lemke was conducted by Christopher Spall.
Mr. Lemke, you went through the process of developing your personality brand in coaching in several steps. Why did you decide to embark on this path in 2014?
I had taken up the position of sales manager at the beginning of 2014. For me, that meant significantly more responsibility. Before that, I had already attended leadership seminars. But a lot of what I learned there was not really tangible. A lot of it was simply theoretical and could only be partially implemented in a credible way. I wanted to know how to lead authentically and tangibly in practice.
What were your expectations when you got involved back then?
To be honest, I didn’t know what was coming. In any case, I expected to be given tools to manage staff and establish myself in the new company. I was also concerned with building trust with my employees and my customers. So the journey to becoming a strong brand started with myself. In retrospect, this sounds downright logical.
And how did it feel when it really started?
When it started, I was quite surprised. I was expecting us to get right into content. By this I mean classic role models and how to use them as a personality brand. Instead, we got into analyzing my personality. So the journey to becoming a strong brand started with myself. In retrospect, this sounds downright logical. At that time, however, I did not have this understanding.
I no longer have to think about what others expect of me.
Now there are truly easier, more superficial, ways to approach the topic of personality branding. Looking back, what benefit did this in-depth analysis have for you?
I was aware of some values, but not others. But the main benefit for me was another: I had never consciously worked with my values. Which value do I want to reinforce? Which one do I want to use in a somewhat measured way? In which situations and with which people is which value particularly important? This step was very important for me. Until then, I had used my distinctive strengths only partially and very intuitively. Now I use them systematically. Actually, we didn’t develop anything, we just brought to the surface something that was already there.
What does your brand mission “Generate appreciation for all that every employee does every day” mean to you as a sales manager?
For me, my brand mission is a journey. I try to follow this path in my day-to-day business so that I don’t lose sight of my goals. What’s it all about? When I follow my mission, other things fall in the back. But never the subject of appreciation. Because that is my mission. That’s how I stay focused. I’m just much further along than I was four years ago.
Based on your brand mission, you have developed a 2020 program. What is behind it?
For me, the program sums up all the actions that matter in the implementation of my brand identity. What do I want to move, on the human level, but also in the market development on the customer side? What to do internally and externally? There are three major goals behind the brand mission. And we have backed each of these major goals with concrete measures. This is my roadmap that gives me direction.
The brand coaching was a big step towards myself. I feel that every day in my work.
You’ve been working with your personal branding strategy for some time now. How has working with the brand tools affected you personally?
What helped me the most was being able to consciously grasp my values. And to deal with it in everyday life. There is no before and after in my view. Because I am still in a process of development. In this respect, there is no after. I personally find it difficult to notice the change in myself. But one thing is indisputably clear to me: I am much more settled. I can already draw on experience in the use of the brand modules and thus use them in an optimized way. I’m just much further along than I was four years ago. The brand coaching was a big step towards myself. I feel that every day in my work.
What advice would you give to other leaders who want to leverage their own identity even more to build a good reputation?
Look at yourself. And use what makes you tick. This makes you look authentic. This is how you can distinguish yourself from apparently comparable people. Beyond that, I would recommend putting aside the classic leadership and style guides. Stop imitating any standards or other people. Instead, work on your own identity and awareness as a brand. In any case, this is the more authentic and therefore better way for me.
Mr. Lemke, thank you very much for this interview.
The complete interview with deeper insights into the development process can be found in the book “Personal Branding – What makes people strong brands” by Christopher Spall. There, Heiko Lemke also reports, among other things, on how he uses his personality brand today in contact with customers and in the selection of new employees.
Deeper insights into the book “Personal Branding”.
Immerse yourself in Personal Branding
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