Posted 05. 06. 2014
Male and female energy in leading people and companies, the potential for an active connection of the head and the heart and discussion over the necessary transformation of the leadership style in future were the main topics of the 4th Leadership for Life Conference, which was held on June 4th in the Prague Monastery Brevnov.
Nearly a hundred leaders and managers from the Czech and international environment experienced the rich program and special atmosphere of the Conference co-created by a concert performance by the string quartet - Epoque Quartet.
The first block of this year's Leadership Conference dealt with a combination of female and male qualities in everyday work with people within companies. Liam and Dawn Forde of The Zone directed their opening hour performance to understanding that the point is not how many men and women are in the work team, but in what proportion are the necessary energies represented and what style of leadership should prevail. Discussion and brainstorming with the audience clearly showed that the style of leadership based on the power of fear and control is dated and ineffective in the current and future environment. In contrast, the desirable leadership style for development of personality and the group is a trusted, empathetic person with a vision that leads by example and values, both in professional and personal life. This new type of leader will be an increasingly important, especially in connection with the arrival of generation Y (the so-called Millennials), which is expecting a different type of fulfilment and motivation from their work than was characteristic for their parents.
Jan Žižka, the Executive Director of Mondi Štĕtí, shared his experience with management of a company, which employs more than 600 employees, many of whom are expats. The effective path to these employees Žižka maintains, was through open and meaningful dialogue. The basis of Mondi corporate culture is the answer to two questions: what we want to achieve (results and economic indicators) and how we want to achieve them (the values and culture). The authentic leader is the one who remains himself (does does not copy anyone or anything), and leads by example (industrious, disciplined, listening) and offers his "open heart". „While building a sustainable corporate culture there is no quick solution, you simply must work it out step by step," he added.
Renata Mrázová, the General Manager of ING Insurance Company for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who espouses guiding people through emotion and empathy, spoke about nurturing new leaders. Based on a combination of her personal story with experience from the business realm, she illustrated what should be the essential features of a leader. According to Mrázová, the most important is an engaged approach, empathy, ability to listen and ability to make changes. She accented the promotion of talents from the side of top management and added a great deal of criticism towards the Czech education system, which, instead of cultivating talents, encourages mediocrity: "Our schools do not respect a leader´s individuality and the future needs of the labour market," she said.
Drahomira Mandíková, the Director of corporate relations and a member of the Board of Directors of Pilsner Urquell spoke about her experience with leadership in the "beer world", which is in most cases the domain of men. The necessary skills of the leader are the art of listening, the ability to build and maintain relationships, implement changes and bring all stakeholders into the game, to become a part of the decision-making process, and not just its executor. "An authentic leader has a vision and is able to pass it on to others. Confidence is important, but without arrogance," she concludes.
Jan Bílý, a systemic consultant and author of books, in his speech focused on the Crisis of Purpose. He spoke about the crisis as a necessary and beneficial component in personal and working life: "Every crisis is also the success of something else." Jan Bílý described the development of the three essential archetypes of leadership – coming from the initial intent of the leader from a position of power and strength (the militant type), through the second intention to lead by inspiring example: "I know, so follow me" up to the leader of the third type, that "is leading as if he wasn't even here." The most important characteristics of a leader of the future will be the ability to observe, ask the right questions and listen. And also to be able to admit mistakes openly and say himself: "the biggest mistake is when people become their own business cards."
Radka Dohnalová, founder and Director of the company ATAIRU (which in translation means "partners on the way to something new") gave a cordial speech, which touched the heart of many participants and brought tears to their eyes. She shared her powerful story as a woman yearning for perfectionism and prime results that brought her to a prestigious consulting company and allowed her to receive an MBA from Harvard University. However this success never made her really happy, and after the birth of her children she started to find a better place in the world for her path. Radka established her own company dedicated to the development of Czech women in business (as an untapped source of talent and economic potential) and to a new style of leadership. "Each of us can be a leader, it's just how we work on ourselves," accented Radka Dohnalová.
The afternoon discussion block was a totally new experience for many participants. In accordance with the conclusions of the morning debate, it is a mistake to align people in companies to preconceived paths and that they deserve their own creative space. The organizers spontaneously decided to do an experiment. During lunch break the Conference Hall was rebuilt in the form of a large discussion circle, where it was much easier to break the remaining barriers to communication. A passionate debate took place between leaders and managers of corporations on the topic of how a real leader can resist and manage in an effective way for the employees, the pressure of company headquarters. They agreed that indicators such as P&L are, of course, important for the company, but must not prevail over the values of the employees. The starting point for the future must be "affectionate disobedience", it means to respect the HQ management and its requirements, but in the interest of the company to follow them only as they support the corporate vision and values.
Contact for further information about the conference:
Barbora Krásná, Partner Blue Events
e-mail: Barbora.Krasna@BlueEvents.eu +420 222 749 841
Aneta Zímová, Project Executive, Blue Events
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, +420 730 184 505
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