Today’s guest is Nicole Wilke. Nicole is the Head of International Climate Policy within the Federal Ministry for the Environment in Germany and the German lead negotiator as well as one of three EU lead negotiators at international climate conferences, such as the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, which you have surely heard about. I’m really honored to have a leader in my podcast, whose personal and team actions have such a wide reach!
In our interview we talk about Nicole’s first leadership position outside of work in an association and how this prepared her for taking over her first team at the Ministry for the Environment. This team is 16 years later actually still her team, just always with new team members. I am impressed by how Nicole found her leadership style of trusting in her team and giving them a lot of freedom, whilst being very open and vulnerable also sharing in our conversations challenges she had as first-time leader at the beginning. For those listeners who might have some difficulties to let go and trust their team members, there are quite some recommendations for you in this episode!
We talk about:
- Her challenges when starting to lead the first team at the Environment Ministry 16 years ago
- The realization “Things that are clear to me, are not necessarily clear to others”
- How coaching helped her to find her leadership role in the first 1,5 years and how a constant self-reflection process supports you to get better over time
- How with hindsight it’s relieving to know that beginnings of a leadership role can be difficult and no one is perfect from the beginning!
- Her leadership style of giving trust & responsibility together with the expectation that team members proactively come and ask questions
- Recommendations to trust and let go: the more you trust someone, the more you are rewarded!
- How her first leadership experience was in an association working in political capacity building and how the lessons learned from then supported her when taking over the first team within the workplace
- Learning to rely on the expertise of your team
- Her learnings from international climate negotiations such as the importance to respect the person behind a position in order to work on solutions
- What she learned with horses that is useful for leadership