Estonia. The world's only digitally transformed nation that runs its government fully online. It is the only country in Europe with the highest rate of start-ups per capita. It is the country that cares; cares about its nation and its quality of life. We had a great opportunity to personally listen to and interact with Madame President of the Republic of Estonia, Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, at the IEDC-Bled School of Management. Madame President (it is an official way to address her) shared her vision about the importance of self-awareness and consciousness about what is happening around us. She and her country are actively involved in world’s important topics, from the rights of women and climate change to the protection of cyber space and sustainable living. What Madame President specifically pointed out is the importance of compassion. It is compassion that drives the change and it is the humanity behind it that can make a real difference.
I was personally inspired by Madame President. She gave us a speech that was not only well prepared but so comprehensive that it left me standing with an overwhelming admiration for this incredible woman. From her tone of voice, attitude and message you could immediately recognize that she is a strong yet a very inspiring leader. A leader that truly cares about her legacy and deeply feels how far we have moved away from our true values and how important it is to consciously understand what really matters today and how it will affect our future. Her government introduces a number of technological initiatives and she is clear on the importance of adopting technology as a means of helping live our lives better. She is determined to influence change that will affect a range of interests, parties and professions and ultimately will contribute to the wellbeing of each individual.
During our third module we had a couple of subjects that drove our attention towards the need of knowing ourselves before we move to changing things around us. When we talk about strategy, whether it is for a country or for a company, we talk about a person that creates it, implements it, lives by it. As professor Nenad Filipović taught us: “The center of every strategy is a person. It is me. It is you. So, you better believe it, as a personal conviction. It is not „just business“ as many would like to argue.” What was interesting for me to realize is that the strongest motivational factor in our job is the meaning of it. My work must have a meaning for me. We should ask ourselves: is this work important to me? Do I believe in what I do? If we do not have a clear answer to these questions, we are in trouble and our company is in trouble with us too. Moreover, the change around us pushes us to change ourselves almost constantly. “The competences I use today are not enough for the job I want to do or get tomorrow”. It’s an intimidating thought. Therefore, strategic management should not only be about taking the company in a desired direction but ensuring that its main asset, people, are fully conscious about their legacy and insightful about the meaning and importance of the job they do.
The role of a good leader is to make sure people discover what they have in themselves that they do not usually see. Wow! It sounds almost impossible. A question that immediately came to my mind was: have I ever met such a person, a boss, a colleague, a leader who tried to help me discover what I do not see in myself? I cannot remember. But, this perfect definition given to us by a great professor Pierre Casse helped me realize that I wish to be the one who helps others to re-discover themselves. And a basis for doing that is good communication. Pretty straightforward, you may say. However, one interesting takeaway is that communication is about inventing each other. We invent each other through all possible ways of communicating, whether it is through direct discussion or simply by observing body language. We learn about other person and his/her values. We try to understand what she or he is all about while we simultaneously share our beliefs, whether consciously or subconsciously. On the other hand, we negotiate all the time, with everyone, everywhere and about everything. Whether is with our significant other about the color of the furniture, with our boss about (well-deserved) days off or with a child about having broccoli for lunch. Everything is a negotiation. So, we better learn how to negotiate well.
Make a statement of who you are. Be aware of it but know that it requires constant personal development and adjustment to change. Because it is not the strongest who survives, but the one most responsive to different circumstances. Changing the corporate culture requires surfer’s mindset. You must be patient, adaptive, keep your eyes open and be ready to seize the right moment. Stay positive and energized but also very decisive and persistent when needed. Waves are in a constant movement, they change their rhythm, pace, altitude and magnitude. And you never know how will they deviate and where will they hit. But a surfer embraces all of it. As professor Jon Kabat-Zinn said: „You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf“.
Let’s keep on surfing until our next Module in March!