Common Sense in Leadership: Prague Leadership Institute Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 4

The Prague Leadership Institute Newsletter

Developing Leaders for the 21st Century

Dear Readers,

Pepper de CallierWelcome to our April newsletter.  It has been an unusually long winter in Prague, but we are finally seeing the promise of spring, as I hope you are wherever this finds you.

This month will see us sharing the message of The Human Element of Leadership (THEL) in a speech to a project management conference being held at Tomas Bata University in Zlin.  Early next month I will be conducting a workshop on THEL for a global conference of NGOs taking place in Prague.

Now, to our authors for this month: Our first contributor is a distinguished member of our faculty and the CEO of ING Insurance CZ/SK, Renata Mrazova. When the topic of leadership is discussed in CEE, it isn’t long before Renata’s name will be mentioned as an example of holistic, caring, and very effective, performance-oriented leadership.  We, apparently, are not the only ones to realize this, because the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, has asked Renata to write the Foreward to the Czech edition of her new book, Lean In. We are honored that Renata has offered to share it with our readers before the launch of the book next month on 7 May in the beautiful conference hall of Ceska sporitelna’s Rytirska Palace.  Lean In challenges us to rethink commonly-held prejudices and stereotypes regarding womens’ success. This is not an ideological polemic on womens’ issues.  It is a very down-to-earth, well-reasoned, and human look at Sandberg’s life journey and how it relates to the dialogue of gender context in the 21st century.  I know you will find Renata’s piece enlightening, as you will Lean In.

This month’s Guest Author is someone who is well-known to the executive community in CEE, Alice Punch, former senior consultant with two respected global executive search firms, Korn Ferry and Egon Zehnder, and later the Group Human Resources Director for Zentiva, the generics business of global pharmaceutical leader, Sanofi.  Alice has seen executives from a number of perspectives in her career and been a trusted advisor.  This month, she shares some truly provocative thoughts and observations on the reality of true leadership in her piece, “Leadership: Be Careful What You Wish For”.

Thanks, Renata and Alice for these wonderful contributions to our archive!

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. This month’s book recommendation is not a book.  It is the current issue of Aspen Review, the quarterly publication of Aspen Institute Prague.  This issue addresses some extremely interesting, and timely, issues, such as the renationalization of Europe and the future of capitalism in an interview conducted by Maciej Nowicki with bestselling author and political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, of Johns Hopkins University.  The Aspen Review is available at selected bookstores in Prague and Warsaw, or by subscription at  This publication is a touchstone for political, economic, and cultural issues in Central Europe and well worth the investment in time.

Guest Author
Alice Punch

Leadership: Be Careful What You Wish For

Alice Punch, MSc., MBA
Advisor to executives and leaders
During my experience of the last fifteen years working with top executives of varied nationalities, I have been fortunate to meet a number of inspiring leaders. I also regularly meet many accomplished executives who aspire to higher positions and greater responsibility than they have at present. And here, for what it’s worth, is what I’ve learned: Many executives want to be leaders, but very few want to do the things good leaders must do.

Some of the unhappiest people I know are those whose aspirations for a high-level leadership position were finally satisfied and who only then found out that they didn’t really want to actually do what the position required. They had spent several years climbing their way up and upon reaching their goal, discovered that the realities of life at the top were a far cry from what they had imagined them to be....
PLI Faculty Member
Renata Mrázová

Foreword to the Czech Edition of Lean In

Renata Mrazova
General Manager of ING Pojistovna CR/SR

The book you’ve just opened is unique and inspiring. Sheryl Sandberg with her life story is my role model, and not only mine. I am convinced that Lean In will succeed in sparking the debate on prejudices and stereotypes relating to womens’ success – an issue relevant to any woman no matter what her life ambition might be.

Every speech, debate or conversation concerning women and their careers reminds me over and over again of how essential it is to share specific experience. Only then will you realize that what you’re coping with is nothing unusual or insolvable.

The issue of employed women is a sensitive one, as it reveals wide-spread gender prejudices still prevalent in the labor market. Deep-rooted social conventions make it hard for women to seek their own path and be able to stand up for themselves ...
Prague Leadership Institute
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