Common Sense in Leadership: Prague Leadership Institute Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 7

The Prague Leadership Institute Newsletter

Developing Leaders for the 21st Century

Dear Readers,

Pepper de CallierWelcome to the July edition of the PLI newsletter. Aside from the normal Board retreats and Board diagnostic studies, June was a busy month for us. Additionally, I want to introduce you to our newest faculty member, a new staff member and announce a new series in our newsletter, so let me bring you up-to-date.

First, let me introduce our newest faculty member, Dr. Michaela Novotna. Dr. Novotna is a practicing psychiatrist and founder of Therapia Viva in Prague. Her professional qualifications are indeed impressive. After receiving her Medical Doctor’s degree at Charles University, she pursued training and research in the field of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and The University of Cadiz in Spain. She is also a member of many international psychiatric associations. The reason, however, I am so pleased she has accepted my invitation to join our faculty is not just the fact that she is an exemplary mental healthcare professional, it’s her caring, insightful, and intellectually rigorous approach. In the months ahead she will be sharing her views on mental health and leadership—a topic that has been of great interest to students of leadership for many years. Welcome aboard, Michaela!

Another new addition to PLI is Mgr. Andrea Zieglerova, who will serve as my assistant and lead research and special projects. Welcome aboard, Andrea!

We also send warm wishes to Kristin LaRonca Parpel, who will be leaving PLI this month. Kristin has been with PLI for nearly two years and has been a great source of energy and enthusiasm for all of us here at the institute. Kristin has decided to focus on building her own private coaching practice and further exploring her passion for social enterprise. We wish Kristin all the best in her future endeavors. Should you wish to contact Kristin directly, she can be reached at

On 15 June, I addressed the graduating class of the Masters in Management program at the London Business School. It was a wonderful experience and I want to thank Martin Hudak for his kind recommendation of me as their keynote speaker.

Masters in Management program at the London Business School
Pepper addressing the graduating class of the Masters in Management program at the London Business School

Then, on 18 July, Priscilla and I had the honor of attending a dinner at the Queen’s House on the grounds of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It was a fund-raising dinner for The Lobkowicz Collections, as well as a celebration of the loan of the Collections’ spectacular painting by Antonio Canaletto, “The Thames on Lord Mayor’s Day”, to the Queen’s Jubilee Celebration. The evening was made even more special by addresses from world-famous historian Dr. David Starkey and HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

Lobkowicz Collections - Gala Dinner
Priscilla de Callier, Pepper de Callier and William Lobkowicz at The Queen's House, Greenwich

On 26 June, we launched our new interview program and networking event, “The Leadership Series: Discussions With the People Who Are Defining the Future”. Our kick-off program was sold out two weeks before the event and hosted three of the most recognized and respected CEOs in the Czech Republic: Pavel Kysilka of Ceska sporitelna, Pavel Rehak of Ceska pojistovna, and Milan Vasina of T-Mobile CZ. It took place at the Kempinski Hotel in Old Town and included what had to be the most amazing array of food at what the chef called a 5-Star Barbeque. Thanks, once again to these insightful leaders for sharing their thoughts with us—they were great! Thanks, too, to Marcus Klos of Prague Connect, our event partner, for his masterful execution of organizing everything.

Leadership Series at Kempinski Hotel
Milan Vasina, CEO, T-Mobile, Pavel Rehak, CEO, Ceska pojistovna, Pavel Kysilka, CEO, Ceska sporitelna and Pepper de Callier, Founder & Executive Director, Prague Leadership Institute

Now, to this month’s newsletter. We lead off with a thought-provoking piece from a distinguished PLI faculty member, Jan Muhlfeit, Chairman Europe, Microsoft Corporation. As is his style, Jan is very engaging as he shares with us a number of enlightening examples, anecdotes, and personal observations on leadership in the 21st century.

Our new feature in the newsletter, which we launch this month, is from the other end of the leadership spectrum: young leaders. In a series, I will ask young leaders from various parts of the world to share their thoughts on leadership, its challenges, lessons they are learning, and the things they expect from their leaders for inspiration, guidance and development. This will bring a truly inter-generational aspect to our ongoing dialogue on leadership. In the first of the series, I have asked my younger son, Rhys de Callier, Associate Director, Fluorescent Immunoassay Business Unit, Quidel Corporation, to launch our Young Leaders Series. I think when you read his article you will understand not only why I am so proud of him and asked him to do this, but why I have so much hope for his generation as leaders.

A special thanks to Jan and to Rhys for their wonderful contributions to our library.

Each month two members of The Prague Leadership Institute’s faculty, or invited guest authors, share their thoughts on a wide variety of leadership-related topics. To all of them go our sincere thanks for taking the time, and having the generosity of spirit, to share their wealth of experience.

Thank you, too, for taking the time to read our newsletter and for your support.


P.S. My book recommendation for this month: Why Smart Executives Fail by Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. The book has been hailed as a must-read by The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and The New York Times. It is both a wake-up call to “Alphas” and a roadmap to leadership excellence in the 21st century. 

Young Leaders Series
Rhys de Callier

Cross-functional Communication as a Strategic Organizational Capability

Rhys de Callier
Associate Director, Fluorescent Immunoassay Business Unit, Quidel Corporation

Early in my career as a marketer I was introduced to the idea that good companies meet the needs of their markets while great companies create markets. Strategy gurus and business schools teach a similar idea, one that is rooted in economics and goes like this: all else being equal, profits tend to be high for those who can see and exploit opportunities earlier than others. The reason being, the more efficient the market the shorter the window of opportunity – others will follow and soon compete away share or profit margins. In other words, exploiting opportunities faster than our rivals is critically important to successful entrepreneurial venturing. But, how can we ensure that these opportunities (identified by the strategic planning function of the organization) are more efficiently and effectively executed (at the team level)? 

The strategy literature suggests that there are a few key success factors of entrepreneurial activities, including foresight, organizational skill, luck and responding to the competitive environment. On the other hand, the organizational literature suggests that proper training, goal-alignment, motivation and incentives drive organizational success. Consequently, I believe one element deserves special attention as it is often overlooked: Cross-functional communication. At the project- or team-level this can make or break any strategy, no matter how good it looked on paper when the consultants delivered it. After all, communication itself is needed to determine the skills, to communicate the goals and to drive the motivation of those who make up the team...
PLI Faculty Member
Jan Mühlfeit

Leadership in the 21st Century

Jan Mühlfeit
Chairman Europe,
Microsoft Corporation

It was only in the last decade of the 20th century when the old paradigm of "job" and "career" perception started to shift. In the bi-polar world created after World War II, both in the West and in the East, the majority of people have had careers with a single employer for their entire active life. In many cases they have been either doing the same type of work or alternatively slowly climbing the corporate ladder, yet again most often in the same area of their expertise. However, 20 years ago this paradigm started to change, first slowly, eventually very significantly. The wide spread of information technologies, a PC at every desk at home and at the office, the mobile revolution and of course the Internet have opened up completely new horizons, new opportunities and also dramatically changed the global marketplace – regardless of whether we talk about products or jobs.

The evolution of the world we live in and the role that the information technologies have played in this shift has truly been fundamental. On the other hand, to a large extent, such progress has in fact been predictable. Back in 1965, Intel's co-founder Gordon Moore articulated what came to be known as Moore's law. This theory, which in reality has proved right and continues to now for more than half a century, states that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years – in other words the capacity and abilities of information technologies double every 24 months and grow exponentially. Imagine that such a prediction was made in the time when the cost of 1 transistor was 1 USD while today for the same amount of money you can have 1 billion transistors. Nevertheless, when this vision became reality...
Prague Leadership Institute
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