Art of Leadership – Simona Špilak

Three years ago, I completely changed my life. Not only did I cut my hair, but I completely changed my career, as well. I left a very good corporate position to start my petite boutique consulting business. I went from a strong commercial and business-oriented role to be a consultant in the area of human resources. I am a passionate believer in leadership stories based on actions that lead to change and growth. How did I manage, where did I start, what did I do?

I started with myself, with what I was good at – using my experience in the field of executive search and helping international companies find the best talents for their business and organizational needs. I was able to build trust among my clients because I had experience from the international environment and a complex matrix organization. If I wanted to gain respect, I needed an expert and scientific background in the field of human resources. So I started to educate myself, selecting among the best training courses for individual professional and personality insights, team development techniques and coaching. Training in the field of people development provided me self-confidence and was the basis for developing new services, which we are offering in our company.

While we were developing our services portfolio, I noticed myself going from a long phase of thinking to action period, back to thinking and re-thinking, until our services portfolio was defined. It is not final, though. It changes as the environment, the needs of the leaders and businesses change. We have the opportunity to develop every single day, if we want to. For that, we have to take the time to look into the future, reflect on our actions, re-think, go through our experience – and then we grow. What does my still developing company story have to do with leadership? Everything. Working with leaders and supporting leadership became the essence of my work, my expertise and my life. And I love it, enjoy it, live it. I do what I am passionate about.


Five Key Leadership Impact Areas

There are five key leadership impact areas I identified while developing my own business: Change is inevitable, and growth is a result of it. Leaders provide opportunities for change and growth. They have to be equipped with expertise and empathy to support positive change, growth, and people development. I just recently read that if in a system, only 20% of the system changes, the change becomes generative. This can go two ways – having a positive or a negative impact. It entirely depends on us. There are two crucial ingredients of leadership – trust and respect. Leaders gain trust with expertise, providing the vision, long-term strategy and goals. We gain respect while implementing the mentioned components, supporting people development, motivating, and providing the environment for constant personal growth and engagement. Two most important behaviors leaders should excel in are thinking and acting. Be a “storydoer”, not only a storyteller. As leaders, we need to take time for thinking, planning or goal setting, and we have to invest time to reflect. Looking back at what we have done and learned, and how we can use our experience for further personal development, is of the utmost importance for our business and employee development. I learned the importance of those two phases from my coaching trainer, Pedja Jovanović, and I am really grateful for it. It is an investment in the future.

Measure what matters, do what has an impact. In the growth phase, companies need effective performance management and development dialogues to ensure talents for key positions and to drive growth. John Doerr’s theory of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is an approach towards goal setting which we implement with all our clients. The OKRs focus on effort, foster coordination, enhance workplace satisfaction and ensure engaged and motivated employees. To improve your leadership, work on yourself first. And your leadership team. Remember the 20% of the system need for change? Use all the available support and resources for personal development because your team and your organization will grow if you grow. You can start implementing mentoring programs in your organization. While I support the idea that mentoring is good, coaching is better. Coaching offers the opportunity to create a “feedforward” culture instead of feedback discussions. It shifts focus from the past on to future goals and personal development. Coaching is the highest level of leadership. Leadership encompasses the art of connecting all five mentioned impact areas and molding them in your personal style of leadership while having in mind that we shall constantly strive for motivating and engaging work environment.

Simona Špilak,

Executive Consultant to Board Members