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

The Prague Leadership Institute Newsletter

Developing Leaders for the 21st Century

Dear Readers,

Pepper de Callier
Welcome to our February newsletter. There is a lot to cover, so I'll get right to it. First of all, I am proud, delighted, and humbled by the acceptance of my invitation to join our faculty by three outstanding leaders. In alphabetical order, they are: Eliška Hašková Coolidge, Renata Mrázová, and Door Plantenga. The bios and photos of these impressive individuals are on our web site, but briefly: Eliška is a former advisor to five United States Presidents and the Assistant Chief of Protocol for the United States. Today, through Coolidge Consulting Services, she is a frequent lecturer on the art and management of social skills and business and diplomatic protocol. Renata is the CEO of ING Insurance in the Czech and Slovak Republics and, among other honors, has appeared regularly on Hospodarske noviny's annual listing of the Top 25 Czech Women in Business. Door is the Managing Director of Heineken in Slovakia and, aside from being one of the most senior women in one of most recognized companies in the world, she was recently interviewed by Forbes Magazine and appeared on its cover (the full transcript of the interview is available on our website).

Joining an already impressive group of internationally recognized and respected leaders on our faculty, these three leaders bring their own individual inspirational accomplishments along with a superb history of being exemplars of The Human Element of Leadership. On behalf of our entire faculty, I extend a warm welcome to each of you and our sincere wish for many years of personal fulfillment in helping us raise the level of awareness of 21st century leadership issues and The Human Element of Leadership.

In this month's issue we are fortunate to have two outstanding and thought-provoking articles—one from one of our Founding Faculty Members, Petr Šmida and the other from an invited Guest Author, Senta Čermáková. At the risk of embarrassing Petr, I think it would be accurate to say that he is an icon of entrepreneurship and an internationally respected banking and financial services CEO. He has been the subject of numerous profiles, interviews, and articles about his success here, in the Czech Republic, in Russia, and in the United States (Petr's bio is on our web site). This month, Petr shares his thoughts on change management—a topic on which he is widely considered to be an expert—in a piece that is sure to spark discussion.

Senta, who, as Worldwide Director of Customer Reference Center of Expertise for HP, is one of the most senior Czech women executives of her generation in a global company. Senta has appeared on Hospodarske noviny's Top 25 Czech Women in Business List, among many other recognitions of her success and thought-leadership. In this issue, Senta takes on Generation Y and asks leaders to consider several provocative questions, among which is: Will this generation redefine the work ethic on a global basis?

Both wonderful thought-pieces that I know you will enjoy reading.

To Senta and Petr, "Thank you for these great contributions to our library and for your generosity."

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. 

Senta Čermáková

Generation Y:
A Game-Changer?

Senta Čermáková
Worldwide Director of Customer Reference Center of Expertise, Hewlett-Packard

Today, the youngest adults are called Generation Y and, while sociologists don't agree on the exact age parameters for this generation, partly because there appears to be a difference country-by-country, they generally fall somewhere between 20 to 35 years of age (in 2011). There are, however, some characteristics that the entire cohort known as Generation Y have in common.

The determining factors for Generation Y, also known as Millennials, have been the expansion of personal computers together with the web/Internet launch in the 90s. Most of this generation's members came in touch with the digital technologies when they were in their teens or even earlier. A significant number of them read their first words not on paper, but on a screen and, as a result, they are frequently referred to as "digital natives."

In the Czech Republic, as well as in the neighboring countries, the IT revolution is also connected with the social revolution. Generation Y is the first of all generations that has grown up under fully democratic conditions. Because of this, their upbringing was more open and liberal than that of previous generations. 
Petr Šmida

Change Management Quest

Petr Šmida
Private Investor

Change is the only thing we definitely know will happen next. Why is change management still a tricky combination of art and science? Here is what I have learned from building my own company in the 90's, then selling it to GE; six years with GE including a global job in the US; and five years as CEO of the largest private sector bank in Russia.

Any change happens in the context of who is defining the success. It may not be your definition but rather your superior's. I observed many times in my career that people undertook major reshuffles before checking how their superior defines success. It is an unfortunate situation when a leader comes back after leading tough changes to celebrate with his/her boss only to learn that nobody asked for that change, and it was unnecessary. Go and verify the definition of success with the relevant constituents first.

There are a few fundamental questions to ask when you are considering a change. "What is the problem?" and "Why is it a problem?" and as previously discussed, "What does the 'success' look like?" It is essential to write your answers on paper. Then, "What will happen if we change nothing?" 
Prague Leadership Institute
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