Netokracija article on European Leadership Tour


(As originally published in Netokracija, on 4th October 2016.)

What is important in the entrepreneurship of the 21st century, and how to hire employees who will build a global company with you? These and other key questions for all of those who intend to start a business, or have already done so, were discussed by Russel Dalgeish from Scotland and Michael Anderson from California, based on their experience, and within the Leadership tour organized by the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation.

A lecture about the new age of leadership was held yesterday in Westin hotel in Zagreb, where Russel Dalgeish from Scotland and Michael Anderson from California shared their experiences from the modern business world. After Zagreb, where they had the audience of some 40 interested young and older (potential) entrepreneurs, Russel and Michael will visit Ljubljana, Rijeka, and Belgrade these following days, as a part of the Leadership tour.

Let’s see what was discussed in Zagreb.

There has never been a better time for entrepreneurship

Russel is a serial entrepreneur, investor, innovator and business advisor, and in his presentation, he highlighted that there has never been a better time for starting the business than today. Modern technologies, namely, enable cheap travel and free communication with anyone in the world, which makes expansion of business strategy and global success of any company in any country significantly easier.

In entrepreneurship of the 21st century the most important thing is to use the opportunities offered, and in that sense, first and foremost, are of importance social networks so that the offer can be communicated to the users, Russel thinks. He takes Twitter as an example since he considers it a great platform for sharing experiences and thoughts, such as what we think will happen in the world, which is pretty important for the leaders in Great Britain, as well as Croatia. Also, the key thing is to research competition and decide what will your advantages on the market be. Croatian companies have equal opportunities in all of that as British or American ones, Russel emphasizes. But, what is it then that prevents us from trying to make our dreams come true, no matter where we are? The answer is, he says, in our head.

Recognize your fears and ignore them

Both Russel and Michael agree that the biggest resistance we get is our own, because of the fear of something new.

“We are all a bit afraid of change. That is a normal reaction to something new.”

However, in order to be innovative, you have to take a risk, emphasizes Michael, the founder of The Executive Joy Institute.

“Courage does not mean that I am not afraid, but that I am afraid, and will do it anyway.”

In Croatia, a lot of people think that the biggest problem in starting your own business is bureaucracy, but Russel emphasizes that one could use that as an advantage as well if most don’t dare because of the bureaucracy, that means you will have less competition. Still, what is missing in Croatia in comparison to the USA are support mechanisms, Michael notes. In the USA people do not celebrate failure, but they celebrate an attempt, and if you do not succeed the first time, others will encourage you to try again. Here, unfortunately, that is not the case, and for this reason, it is necessary to work on community development, that will serve as support to innovation.

Employee engagement in Croatia below average

Michael also emphasized that there are some myths about leadership that often discourage individuals. For example, many think that one cannot learn to be a leader or that a leader has to have certain competencies and know answers to all the questions. However, that is not true. Anybody can be a leader, says Californian entrepreneur, but one needs to work on their skills, one cannot be simply born with them. Still, that does not mean that a leader has to be perfect since no one can know all the answers. Michael admits that he himself was not a good leader when he was getting started as an entrepreneur, but he invested a lot in his further education after which his company was ever more successful and in the end, has been declared the best place to work in San Diego.

One of the most important things that he learned is that a leader can be recognized in the engagement of his/hers employees. Namely, engaged employees are the ones who believe in the purpose of the company and for this reason, they put in more effort. According to a Gallop poll, employee engagement in Croatia is only 3%, while the world average is 14%, Michael emphasized. A leader needs to know how to use the potential of the employees and gain their trust. And in order to gain trust, a leader has to be authentic. That means that a leader cannot hide business information from employees or ask them to do something that the leader does not honor himself/herself. For example, if the employees are not permitted to be late, then the leader should not be late either. Also, everyone should find their own style, and not copy others.

Everybody holds their destiny in their own hands

Russel and Michael offered the participants a handful of truly useful information and told them to work on their emotional intelligence as well as to network with others because working together we all have a better chance at success.

The thought that we decide ourselves what we would like to do serves as the main conclusion of this lecture. What kind of a leader we will be and how much we will risk depends on ourselves, and the only thing necessary for that is- to dare.

As originally published in Netokracija, on 4th October 2016.



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