Shifting the Management Mindset and Culture to a New Level of Thinking.
Vlatka can be described as “several people in one”, and she thinks that this is quite an accurate description of her. She is an academic, management consultant, executive coach and CEO of the Drucker Society London, which was set up to help young people pursue their aspirations.
Most importantly, she thinks that the best description about her could be that of a human rights activist (at the workplace). She has a huge passion to make this world a better place, and help individuals and organisations to create happier and more purposeful workplaces. That is why she wrote her latest book, ‘The Management Shift’, in which she brought together both theory and practice, to transfer academic knowledge into action and make a positive difference for individuals and organisations.
The essence of who she is and what she stands for can be illustrated well by this quote from her recent talk at the Houses of Parliament on 5th November: “…. as I have been preaching these ideas to diverse groups of people, I feel like I am a politician, and that my political party is called ‘Humanity’. At the same time, I feel like I am a missionary, and my religion is called ‘Humanity’”.
You have just published a book about leadership and management. Can you tell us more about it? How was this book born?
This book is my life’s work. It is based on more than fifteen years of my interdisciplinary research and consulting experience. I was encouraged and inspired to write this book by Dr. John Adair, who wrote forty books on leadership and is one of the world’s most well known experts in this area.
Many management thinkers describe the principles behind enlightened people and purpose focused leadership; many practitioners help implement good practice. In this book, I brought together the key elements to provide a comprehensive overview of the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of better leadership.
While people are often stated as a company’s greatest asset, few businesses have a clear model of leadership that improves engagement, removes barriers to innovation, and uncovers hidden strengths in people and the organisation. This book addresses that need and, more importantly, demonstrates how organisations can make ‘The Management Shift’ into a new way of thinking and working. Based on leading-edge research and supported by numerous case studies, which demonstrate the power and impact of change, The Management Shift offers managers a practical and systemic approach to diagnose leadership issues in their organisation. It then provides an implementation process to shift their mindset and organisational culture to the new level of thinking, performance and ultimately business success.
It has taken you a lot of work and dedication to succeed – where does this energy derive from?
For many years, I have had a passion for personal development and been doing a lot of personal development work, attending many leading edge courses and reading widely on this, and other areas. That helped me to achieve my own shift and realise that this work is my calling, this is my life purpose. That gives me drive, energy and motivation to pursue my passion and purpose, and it is hugely satisfying to see a practical impact of my ideas.
How much you have changed since you arrived in London?
I think we all change, grow and adapt on our life journeys. I have been living in London for the last 23 years, and yes, I have changed a lot during that time, but I think I would have changed anyway, regardless of where I lived. However, I believe that living in London, one of the world’s most exciting cities, has brought even more opportunities to learn and develop than I would have experienced somewhere else.
How do you remember the first two years in London, and how did you create your new life here?
The first two years in London were 100% dedicated to working on my PhD at the London School of Economics. That was the reason I came to London, and I used every minute of the day to pursue this goal and make the most of that opportunity. The usual time for completing a full time PhD in the UK is three to four years. I completed mine in just over two years. It was a very intense period, but also very rewarding. Upon finishing my dissertation, I received a job offer I could not refuse and that is how my new life in London started.
My work gives me drive, energy and motivation to pursue my passion and purpose, and it is hugely satisfying to see a practical impact of my ideas.
What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a migrant woman?
I think challenges that women face are universal, regardless of whether they are a migrant or not. One extra challenge that I had to face was to work extra hard on improving my English language when I arrived here. Having a two hour English lesson per week at school and at the university in Croatia was very different from being immersed into a new life in London and doing a PhD research in English. Interestingly, these days I would find it difficult to do research, and write professional articles and books in the Croatian language.
How do you balance your private and professional life?
I try to be organised and plan ahead both important work-related events and activities, and quality time with family and friends. I do not always get this right. The last couple of months were especially quite busy with preparing for the book launch and various speaking engagements, but I am now making plans for quality time with friends and family over the Christmas break.
The Management Shift talks about the five levels where corporate people operate – at what level is Vlatka presently?
My ongoing passion for personal development and research in this area helped me to understand these levels (as described in Chapter 4 of The Management Shift book) and apply this thinking on myself too. I try to walk the talk as much as possible, and I believe my mindset has been anchored at Level 4 for some time. This has helped me substantially to overcome any obstacles that came my way, it has helped me to strengthen my intuition and keep pursuing a goal that feels right, regardless of any setbacks.
It has also helped me to apply mindfulness in daily activities, use my skills and time every day to the best of my ability, and understand that achieving big and important things in life takes time, in the same way as any real change takes time.
Like anyone else, I have setbacks and disappointments from time to time that can easily move anyone to a lower level. My immediate reaction is “what would a Level 4/5 person think, do and say in this situation?”, and that helps me significantly to regain balance. When I am presented with any opportunity that I feel will help me grow or do some good, the usual thought that I get is “Why not?”
Who has supported you to grow in your personal and professional development?
I have been privileged to learn from many inspirational people, either by attending their training courses or reading their books. Few people who stand out that I could mention are Harvard psychologist, Dr Susan Cook-Greuter, Dr. Richard Bandler and Anthony Robbins.
When I am presented with any opportunity that I feel will help me grow or do some good, the usual thought that I get is “Why not?”
Being a single mother and a successful woman in your career, how difficult is this for you?
I have always been focused on what I wanted to do and achieve, and that also includes being there for my children and giving them unconditional love and support, as well as pursuing my career. My children are one of the greatest sources of my inspiration. I would not like them to work for an autocratic, uninspiring boss.
Being a parent is perhaps the most rewarding and challenging job an adult can have. Over time, I think I improved my juggling and multi-tasking skills, and I have also set up a support network to balance work with parental responsibilities.
What is your next project and how do you make your projects happen?
I always have new projects on the horizon, and my ideas are evolving continuously. I am expanding the research from The Management Shift book. I am convinced there will be a new book produced in due course. For now, I am focusing on disseminating ideas from this book, writing blogs and articles, giving talks about this research at various places (such as the House of Commons, Croatian Embassy, Beyond Budgeting Conference, IoD India Global Convention, European HR Directors Summit etc.), spreading positive ripples, encouraging and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.