Dierke Houben AG was founded in 2003 with one single idea: supporting blue chip companies to make the leap from good to great leadership by leveraging our international experience in executive positions, management consulting and leadership coaching. As a quality leader in our field, we combine latest thinking in leadership and psychodynamics with a challenger's perspective to enhance our clients' effectiveness in complex and dynamic team situations. We are used to offer our professional services in English and German.


We make successful top executives and their teams more effective. As a trusted partner to the top team we engage the soft levers to deliver superior hard business results. Through Top Executive Coaching, Executive Team Development, and Culture Transformation from the Top we create positive, lasting and measurable impact on the leadership performance of our clients.


Our partners are senior professionals building on 20+ years of experience with a unique blend of executive positions, strategy consulting expertise and coaching practice. Each partner holds international degrees and certifications in business, executive coaching, and leadership development.


Our clients call us in when they see an urgency to substantially enhance top leadership performance. On-boarding the new CEO, strengthening the executive team, aligning the top team in post-merger situations, enhancing the top team's cross-functional collaboration, or anchoring a new performance culture across the organisation – our mandates cover all issues on the executive team's agenda when confronting performance challenges or corporate transformation.

Client profile

As coaches and sparring partners of CEOs and executive teams, we have a strong footprint in Europe. Our clients include global blue chips (Euro Stoxx 50/ Dax 30) and large mid-range companies (100+ mn Euro). In our client work, we cover a wide range of industries – like financial services, telecommunications, information technology, pharmaceutical industry, transportation, retail, private equity, consulting firms, and the public sector.


To bring latest thinking to our clients, we leverage a broad spectrum of international cooperations as well as academic and practitioners' networks: IGLC INSEAD Global Leadership Centre, Fontainebleau/ France; John F. Kennedy School for Government and Adaptive Leadership Network, Harvard University, Cambridge MA/ USA; SOL Society for Organizational Learning, MIT, Cambridge MA/ USA; Center for Leadership and Values in Society, University of St. Gallen/ Switzerland; HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Leipzig/ Germany; ISPSO International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations; ILA International Leadership Association; World Economic Forum, Geneva/ Switzerland; McKinsey Alumni Association.

Expert network

Over the years, a wide range of client requests has led us to develop alliances with a variety of hand-picked experts and professional coaches across Europe. When required and in order to serve our clients best, we ask our network partners to step in.


Leadership performance as a hard business issue

We turn the often avoided soft factors of leadership performance into hard managerial issues – thus helping our clients to improve their leadership and collaboration behaviours in the context of their business issues at hand. This is why we have impact. We support our clients to focus on the underlying perfomance challenges, rooted in personal, interpersonal, systems dynamics – and the interplay in-between.

Short, impact-driven interventions

Effective top executive or team coaching is a contact sport – an action-learning experience with a focus on real world results. We enable lasting behaviour change by engaging our clients in challenging interventions, in the boardroom or offsite. We mirror back the unique dynamics in individual and team behaviours – in order to initiate meaningful, impact focused dialogues amongst our clients. We believe that top executives' attention and commitment to leadership development is a scarce resource.

Challenging, to-the-point analytics

Getting from good to great leadership starts with confronting the brutal facts. In our head-on approach, we combine clear managerial language and consulting-hardened analytic rigor with the insights from psychodynamics and systems thinking. Based on our diagnosis, we customize our actions to the situation at hand, ready to take risks and challenge our clients' thinking and perceptions.

Tailor-made, effective techniques

We believe that the most important leadership challenges today are adaptive challenges. Performance is not driven primarily by technical solutions like structures and processes. Thus, we do not provide standard programmes or checklists, but support our clients in developing adaptive leadership capabilities: an "inner leadership compass" that helps navigating through non-linear personal, interpersonal, and organisational dynamics in the specific business context.

Founding Partners - Dr. Kai W. Dierke

Professional positions

  • 2016 Adjunct Professor of Leadership at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
  • 2003 Dierke Houben AG, Managing Partner & Co-Founder
  • 1999 Winterthur Insurance, Group Executive Board Member
              Credit Suisse E-Business, Executive Board Member
  • 1995 McKinsey & Company, Project Manager, Financial Services

Professional degrees and diplomas (select.)

  • INSEAD, Fontainebleau/France, Psychodynamic Coaching for Change
  • Harvard University, Cambridge MA/USA, The Art and Practice of Leadership
  • MIT, Cambridge MA/USA, Systemic Foundations for Leadership

Knowing the board room from within, Kai is a trusted advisor and sparring partner asked to step in for enhancing top team collaboration and leadership effectiveness, CEO on-boarding, and executive coaching. Business-driven and to the point, he offers thought-provoking perspectives by connecting the dots between leadership behaviour, team effectiveness, and his clients' business performance.


Founding Partners - Dr. Anke Houben

Professional positions

  • 2016 Adjunct Professor of Leadership at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
  • 2003 Dierke Houben AG, Managing Partner & Co-Founder
              INSEAD Global Leadership Centre, Member of Executive Coaching Faculty
              World Economic Forum, Member of Executive Coaching Faculty
  • 2000 Arthur D. Little Consulting, Project Manager, Strategy & Organization
  • 1998 Pixelpark Multimedia, Project Manager, Consulting Unit
  • 1996 Bertelsmann Media Worldwide, Multi Media Division

Professional degrees and diplomas (select.)

  • INSEAD, Fontainebleau/France, Psychodynamic Coaching for Change
  • Harvard University, Cambridge MA/USA, The Art and Practice of Leadership
  • HEC Hautes Etudes Comm., Paris/France, Organisational Psychodynamics

As an appreciated challenger, Anke drives top executives and their teams forward to make performance leaps in their leadership and collaboration behaviours. Delivering her sharp analyses in a tenacious, yet appreciative way, she enables her clients to focus on the real underlying personal, interpersonal and systems dynamics that affect business results.


Great to learn from Jim Collins in London

"OK – so, who has looked in the mirror this morning and saw one of those visionary, larger-than-life leaders?" In his first interactive Leadership Session in Europe since 20 years, Jim Collins got it straight at the start! NOBODY, nobody should ever stop learning. Exactly this learner’s attitude and curiosity enabled him to define The #1 differentiating step from "Good to Great" – "Level 5 Leadership". Indeed, he wanted to take "Leadership" off his research agenda and had to question his own basic assumptions as he learned quite the contrary from his team: It is Level 5 Leadership, framed as Personal Humility, that makes a Great Leader – quite a challenge to the heroic leadership attitudes that we often observe. To create motivation and buy-in effectively and lasting, leaders have to neglect their ego and focus on the purpose: "Personal Humility channels the energy to the cause, not the person. Thus, make people follow the cause, not the person!"

Integrating Google's Mindfulness Practices

"Search Inside Yourself", an awareness training developed for Google to enhance personal growth, is nowadays an integral part of our clients' Leadership Camps and Leadership Teaching. We had the privilege to take part in the first European training in Berlin, today offered in multiple major cities across Europe. It is a refreshing practical reference to Daniel Goleman who taught us years ago about the power of Emotional Intelligence. What sticks still in our minds? Well, learning to be in the "here + now" takes time, endless efforts, it doesn’t come easily – thus, it's best if you do it with a benevolent "grandmotherly mind"! When your thoughts start wandering around and you need to refocus your attention to the breathing, do it with a light heart and a smile. Remember: What was your grandmother’s reaction when she found her sofa covered with coloured hands from your paintbox – while you were hiding, feeling guilty? "Oh, never mind, that’s alright, my darling, you creative little artist". Yes, that's a "grandmotherly mind", forgiving, generous, tender, loving!

Digitization and "good old things" at HHL

At HHL Forum 2017 on "Leadership in the Digital Age" at Leipzig Graduate School of Management, we had the pleasure to talk to Prof. August-Wilhelm Scheer, "the" pioneer on digitized processes. Scheer was just appointed to the "Hall of Fame of German Research" for his unique Integration of innovation spirit and entrepreneurship. He highlighted that digitization will have one major impact, not to be underestimated: to gain time and energy for "the good old things", like sharing experience, personal coaching, building relationships, talking to each other. This hits the core of our work: For us, leadership in the digital age is all about enabling and empowering individuals and people networks throughout the organization to collaborate for innovation and superior results.

Our Executive Training on Leadership at HHL

Leading your Self; Leading your Team; Leading your Organization - this is the core of our Executive Programme on Leadership at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management that we will teach in May 2018. Again we will focus our teaching and interactive learning for a group of international executives on our major goals: The executive students will learn... to reflect one's personal contribution to effective/ ineffective leadership; to understand the strengths and weaknesses of specific leadership styles; to analyze real-life leadership challenges within teams and organisations based on state-of-the-art theory. The programme uses a combination of lectures, group discussions, self reflection, case studies, small team assignments and action learning – highly effective and appreciated by the executives as the high gradings in course evaluation feed back!

7th series of our Top 100 Leadership Camps

In 2018 we will run our next Leadership Camp series for another one of our clients. Again, we design and run this Leadership Camp in 6 waves with our client’s Top 100. We will work with small cross-functional groups of 15-20 managers, focussing on two major goals: 1. "Aligning the Top 100 Management Team" to jointly reflect and adapt behaviours according strategy and to collaborate more effectively; 2. "Developing the individual’s leadership capabilities" to enhance self-reflection and personal growth and to connect on a personal level for trustful relationships. Enriched by state-of-the-art knowledge and Insead Group Coaching, the Camps are a unique, highly appreciated and effective blend of small team assignments, group discussions, self-reflection based on 360° feedback reports, open peer feedback, case studies, action learning, and Google’s Mindfulness Practices. As "culture is behaviour", our Leadership Camps serve not only as a powerful engine for culture transformation. The Camps serve also as a highly powerful lever for bringing and keeping strategy alive, recalling Peter Drucker’s famous warning "culture eats strategy for breakfast"!

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