7: Sales Director, Christian Kastner on Personal Mastery for Peak Performance

Personal Mastery for Peak Performance

Personal mastery is an essential journey for leaders. The journey might not be easy, but it’s always worth it. As you clarify your purpose, goals, and values, you will achieve your meaningful goals sooner and more intentionally.

In episode 7 of Agile Leaders Conversations, hear Christian Kastner, a veteran sales leader, share his insights after reading ‘8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility.’, He highlights how he connected with the paradox ‘principled vs adaptable’ and sound leadership advice that will help leaders relook their focus and emphasis on life.

Connect with Christian at https://www.linkedin.com/in/christiankastner/

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Christian Kastner: Learn to fill the other areas of your life with meaningful things. You’re becoming a much better leader as well, because one area is influencing the other one. If you have peace at home, you are more effective at work.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Welcome to agile leaders conversations. Agile leaders conversations is a series of dialogues where we engage industry leaders in discussions of how they see and apply agility and navigate paradoxes as they lead and pivot in the new normal. My name is Chuen Chuen, and I’m an executive coach who specializes in leadership agility.

Getting to Know Christian Kastner

Chuen Chuen Yeo: My guest today is Mr. Christian Kastner. Christian is a veteran sales leader who has a wealth of experience in leadership and coaching. Let me hand over the time to Christian to share a little about himself.

Christian Kastner: Hello! Good afternoon, Chuen Chuen. It’s very great privilege to be with you today, and to speak to your people around the world, especially in lovely Singapore. I’m very happy to do so.

Christian Kastner: I’m in a good number of years now in sales. And over time, I progressed up in my career to be more in leadership in the last 10 plus years. This time, I developed a real quick desire to learn more about leadership and how to do this well.

Christian Kastner: My daily practice is about sales business development and in leadership. Because in the last couple of years, the business model transformed a lot. I’m working for a small to medium-sized enterprise here in Germany, but what I’m doing is, I help our other companies, our distributors all around the world to apply and to promote our products in a more effective way.

Christian Kastner: So, there’s a lot of sales talk training on the job, but also investment in people and helping our partners to be more effective.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: You’re in this very important work of building capability and increasing effectiveness. Christian is joining us from Germany, and it’s now 1:00 PM in Singapore, so it is extremely early in Germany. Thank you so much for joining the call very early today.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Christian and I connected on LinkedIn after he read my book. So here I wanna invite Christian to share your thoughts of the book after reading it.

Christian Kastner: Yeah, I made a lot of notes in this book, and it’s a great book. So if you hadn’t taken the chance to buy it, I highly recommend it. What I really liked about the book, it’s really practical. In the beginning I thought, it’s very easy. Then I came to realize that there’s a lot of deep thoughts below the book, and it took a couple of chapters for me into coming along with the meaning of it. And there was one chapter which resonated very much, because it reflected my life at a certain time. And that was chapter eight (Principled vs. Adaptable). In this example you mentioned a person called Kelly. Kelly is one of these ambitious executives early in her career.

Christian Kastner: She is used to be promoted every couple of months or years. And she’s constantly switching companies and been promoted one step after the next one. You met her probably at a time where she came to a plateau with no further rise. Usually at this stage, you have a time of self questioning where you think, shall I just switch jobs in order to get the next excitement?

Christian Kastner: What you described Kelly was rather a more holistic picture of being a leader. And she realized that now it’s a time to do things beside work, and to get a more complete understanding of what life is all about.

Balance Between Work, Family, and Inner Self Makes You Complete

Christian Kastner: What resonated very much with me was the picture of this tree. That is not a tree with just one branch- your career and earning. But it’s rather a more holistic picture about family. The relationship with the parents. The relationship with your inner self. This draws a picture of a more complete person.

Christian Kastner: When I was a bit younger, I was really ambitious. I really wanted to excel in life. I realized that this is not enough because I neglected relationships with my family and with other people around me, so it really showed that even there’s no immediate progress in your career, you learn to fill the other areas of your life with meaningful things. You’re becoming a better leader as well. Because one area is influencing the other one. If you have peace at home, you are more effective at work. If you’re good at work, you’re probably a more holistic person within yourself.

Christian Kastner: And, if you’re doing some reflecting on what’s going on in your life and adjusting different areas, then the complete picture becomes much more holistic and whole.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Christian, you pointed out one thing that is really key for leaders to understand. To advance in our career and to be better leaders, what we need is probably to also take care of the other parts of our lives, which are equally important, and make sure that we can continue to grow as a person. As a result, we become much better leaders.

Christian Kastner: What I found out, it has a lot to do with your mindset. So, the work mindset means where you set your mind and where you concentrate on.

Christian Kastner: And I have realized, that a lot of focus especially in our world is just money, prestige, and appearance. And then when you have that a mindset, you are missing a lot in life. Because you’re missing a lot of family time. You’re missing a lot of other activities which could enrich your life.

Christian Kastner: It’s important to realize that your identity is not connected with your job. Sometimes, you have to realize that if you’re struggling, or if things are not going smooth, it’s not all about money, prestige and status. It’s more about what is inside you.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: I think materials are only one aspect of what’s important in our lifetimes. And given that we only live once, perhaps this is a question that leaders can ask themselves and gauge how are they measuring their lives.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: There was a definition of leadership agility and paradoxes in the book, so I’m wondering how you see leadership agility and paradoxes from your point of view?

Leaders Have to be Agile to Keep Up with the VUCA World

Christian Kastner: That’s a very good point. I think in our world, which is described as the VUCA world- volatile and a constant change. When I go back to the time of my parents, my father stayed for over forty years in one company. Basically that is the way the generations before him were also used to do. They hardly think about change. For us change is just part of daily life. And that is something where most people still do not realize. They’re thinking back about the good old times.

Christian Kastner: But we, especially as leaders, we have to be agile in keeping our mind set on the proactive mode. To be anticipate, have initiative, and driven- looking for opportunities. Because nowadays, it’s very difficult on one side of business, but on the other side, there are more opportunities today than there was ever before.

Christian Kastner: And everyone can reach it, especially because of modern technology and the internet. There’s possibility to do business with different cultures. So the key for our leaders is to be agile, and then transform the agility into your area of reach, not in the organization in general, because that’s usually too big, but the people you’re interacting by keeping them agile to adapt to the change in the world around you.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: So, there is that keeping a lookout for the opportunities that are available. Recognizing that things are not the same as before. That we are actually changing every day, and that is going to be a norm. There’s probably much lesser of staying in the same company for a long time.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Even among my clients who are very tenured, they stay with companies for a long time. They are still evolving and still able to be agile, grow and change in that same company.

Whether We’re Younger or Older, We Learn From Each Other

Christian Kastner: Yeah, and the thing is, you have to always keep learning. That is one of the things which is of value of myself- the lifelong learning. And this involves not only the mental aspect, but also the practical aspect. For example, for the the people over 50 or 60 to be able to use videos- making videos on LinkedIn and YouTube. Adopting to things like TikTok. That keeps the brain alive and agile as well. And younger people can learn from the older people about a lot of things also. So, what I see right now especially the millenials, I see a very big desire to learn from older people, but I also see a lot of older people willing to learn from the younger ones. I think that’s great, what is happening right now, that people despite of their age try to learn from each other. 

Chuen Chuen Yeo: So, this spirit of lifelong learning that is associated with leadership agility. Intergenerational connecting is not just the younger generation who can learn from the older more experienced generation, it’s also the other way around. The more mature leaders can also learn from the younger ones, especially when they are digital natives.

Christian Kastner: This is a mindset as well. Because if you think as a leader, you are the smartest cookie in the room, then you’re probably in the wrong room. Whoever I meet, I can learn something. Even if it’s just clothing. Most people I meet, I find very inspiring. Because they are usually experts in their niche, which I am not an expert. So, I can connect my experience and my knowledge with their experiences in their industry. And together, I can form an offer which is a win-win situation for me and my company as well as for their company.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: What is your advice for veteran and aspiring leaders out there?

 An Advice to the Aspiring Leaders and Veterans

Christian Kastner: The most important thing is that you are working with a good coach. I had at various stages in my life a coach and some mentors listening and trying to help me to connect with my inner self.

Christian Kastner: A lot of people and leaders are afraid of that. They are afraid because they don’t know what’s coming out. What I realized is you can only reach a certain level without understanding yourself because at the end of the day, everything you do is triggered by your inner self. By your values. By your past experience. By your emotions.

Christian Kastner:  If you’re not healing early in life, it will come out later at a point where you cannot handle it anymore, and then it needs much more time and energy to fix it. That is actually what the younger generation is much more aware than the older generation. And, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help and to employ a coach.

Christian Kastner: So, I would advise you get as much help as you can. Read, study, but have a continuous reflection and use someone who has more experience with intelligent questions to help you move to the next level. Because without the thinking, you will only be able to reaching a certain plateau and then not improving anymore.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Very wise words that you are talking about this personal mastery for leaders and being connected with our emotions. It’s just a matter of time, whether it will come out now or come out later. If later it does, sometimes the consequences can be a little bit more expensive. And it’s better to start this inner journey earlier than later.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: So personal mastery is one. Asking for help is not a weakness. I think that was another very wise thing that you said. Yeah, this is really great. And read more, reflect and things like that.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Thank you so much Christian for spending your precious time early morning sharing your insights with us, and I’m sure for the viewers, you might be interested to know more about how to collaborate and learn from Christian. He’s really a very experienced sales leader. Christian, could you share with them where and how they can find you?

Christian Kastner: Yeah, very well. I’m very happy to connect to everyone on LinkedIn. And also, I have a weekly video blog called leadership Wednesday. Just follow the #leadershipwednesday or #ChristianKastner, and I sharing my 50 cents of leadership on personal development on a weekly basis. There are over 60 episodes already available. If you want to connect with me and ask specific question, I’m an open networker, and I am very happy to help or to share.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: Thank you so much. I think sharing your insights is definitely one of the best gift that a leader can give to everyone.

Chuen Chuen Yeo: So, I will insert Christian’s LinkedIn. Thank you so much for making time again, and let’s stay in touch.

Christian Kastner: Thank you very much for reaching out, and make sure that you buy the book. It’s a fantastic read. Thank you for having me on the show Chuen Chuen.

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