You finally take a leap of faith, which of course was planned and thought about well, and you decide to quit your stable-income job, to start a new chapter in your life, in your own country, surrounded by your people. I was excited and very nervous. Let me tell you, It’s No Piece of Cake!

This transition phase needed much more adjusting to, than I thought it would need. Managing it can be awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least.
Handled wrong, you can make mistakes that will not only harm your reputation, but also your new business. Treated with tact and grace, this transition can be your training ground for major success.

Yes, I was the captain of my own ship, however, so many feelings coexisted together, both positive and negative. I had my big plans and ideas for my own company, I was my own boss, I had my free time, nevertheless, I didn’t have a clear idea at the beginning how to utilize all I had.

I found myself in an environment, which put simply, made me feel like a stranger at first. I felt powerless. I had to find ways to blend into my new situation, adapt to my new surroundings, and maximize what I have in terms of my long life experience, and my resources. I was making educated decisions based on information and experience I had.

Since I am a planner by nature, I had my plans all set up on how I will run my business. Nevertheless, I needed to understand the market and its players.
I started networking. I met with many people of my field, made new work relations, started to mingle with the new work environment, and noted tips on how things are done around here. I learnt so much in so little time, tied up with great people, and started implementing this new knowledge into expanding my own company, in the way that best fits the practices here.

I needed to focus on my own brand too. Marketing my business and creating awareness for my company were done face to face and online. With that ticked off my list, I felt I was on track. I built my own team, which took a while to find the right and suitable candidates for, trained them, and marched head on into the market, knowing quite well that I was dealing with the unknown, yet had the power, wealth of new knowledge, my new connections, topped with my own experience, to sail my own ship to victory.

A year after my big move, I can finally say, I am fully in control of my new career life. I can say not even a single day have I remembered or missed my job. I’ve almost felt like a new person and I’m certainly much happier. Yes, I worked hard. Nothing happened out of the blue. I was really creating clients from scratch. There’s been some highs, a few lows and one or two times where I’ve questioned why I left my stable-income job. Overall though, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life!


The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

1If one would ask what makes a leader; the following traits will be mentioned: Charisma, Ability to inspire, Authenticity, Determination. These are just a few characteristics that define a leader. However, there is one particular quality that all great leaders have in common; a high degree of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. This quality gives individuals a variety of skills, such as the ability to manage relationships, navigate social networks, influence and inspire others.
For leaders, having emotional intelligence is essential for success. After all, who is more likely to succeed – a leader who shouts at his team when he’s under stress, or a leader who stays in control, and calmly assesses the situation?
Self-Awareness, Emotional Management, Effective Communication, Social Awareness and Conflict Resolution are the five main elements of emotional intelligence.
The more that you, as a leader, manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence.

Playing Your Cards Right In Business

Learning how to play your cards right in business will maximize your potential for success. Executive decision-making requires you to do the right thing in a high-stakes situations with imperfect information. Just like in any card game.

Its risky, yet the rewards outweigh the risks by far.

There are several styles for playing your cards, depending on your personality and which style you use, you either take a high risk, or low risk. We can divide them into four categories: 1- Tight & Passive, 2- Loose & Passive, 3- Loose & Aggressive, and 4- Tight & Aggressive.

In the Tight & Passive style, you always play it safe, and your risk is very low, however, you will never win big either. Whereas in the Loose & Passive, you are willing to take the risk, however, your decisions are not backed by an exit strategy, and this will make you fall hard if you lose. In the Loose & Aggressive style, you are a high risk taker, but if you end playing the wrong card, you will end up losing everything, unless you are backed up by your funds, knowledge and confidence. The best style is the Tight & Aggressive, because in this style you pick your spot. You carefully watch how others play, and you wait patiently for advantageous situations. The key skill here is good judgement. You know that when you proceed with a decision, you will win. At the same time, you know when to hold your cards. Your risk here is minimal.

Apart from your style, self awareness is perhaps the most important ace you can have up your sleeve. Knowing your personality, strengths and weaknesses, and risk-tolerance can help you to make better-informed decisions in the business world. You will be able to arm yourself with skills that will set you apart from others.

In addition to self awareness, it comes down to the behaviors, the variables, the decisions – not the outcome. This is called the “Outcome Blind” situation, where you deal with what you know, however, you also have to take the risk to make an important business decision, with information, that to some degree, is imperfect, due to the fact that it is incomplete. The probability of failure is 25% or more, so the outcome is not 100% in your control. However, the process is completely in your control.

The best protection against bad decisions, is a strict and precise decision-making process that ensures the math is on your side. You need to discuss all the variables, and a get a buy-in from the entire team on the probabilities assigned to each of these variables. People feel good about the intellectual honesty and the quality of the decisions making process.

In bad times, outcome-blind self-evaluation requires the confidence to believe good decisions sometimes yield bad results. In good times, it requires the wisdom to tune out surround-sound flattery & applause, which comes at you from yourself, your investors and your employees.

In summary, you can’t be smarter than the market. Too many variables. Too much uncertainty. But you can be smarter than your rivals if you keep learning. By evaluating your decisions in an outcome-blind way, driving decisions with a clear strategy, you can make sure the percentage of what you understand is greater than your opponents, and the chances are much higher that your business decisions will yield good results.

Knowing When The Time Is Right For The Big Move..

imageThere comes a time in our career lives, when one knows it’s time to make the ‘Big Move’. For most of us, this big move, means planning on our lives after being employed for so many years. It means; to finally take the milestone decision to step down from our top senior position, and embark on the journey of ‘Life after my stable income job’. Whether it is opening up your own business, or to simply just enjoy your retirement life.

Of course, a life-changing decision as big as this one does not pop out suddenly. Many factors contribute to actually reaching this decision. We have all thought about it many times over and over, during our career lives, wondering and imagining how it will be once you actually make this decision. You start dreaming of how your life would be like, thinking about what you have achieved, what you will do, and how long it will take you to reach your ultimate goal. Imagination can be your friend or enemy, whereas, if you are a realist, you will be able to size down this imagination, and be able to focus on what you want exactly and how you can reach it.

You start planning and taking steps towards your big move, months or even years ahead. We all know, that reaching our ultimate goal will take a while, so you begin to find ways to make this transition from your comfort zone, to the unknown and unpredictable, as stable and as secure as possible.

Before you reach this decision, you need to have an honest self-debate with yourself. Make sure that your decision and plans are in sync with your mind, heart and emotions. Your move will be tiring if any part of you disagrees, because it will be striving to adapt, and the advancement process will be a real challenge.

The best thing is to work through your concerns to achieve a clear vision about your next steps.

Take a moment to think about the following scenarios:
-You feel that you have reached a point in your career where you have stopped learning and growing. You feel the lack of opportunities to grow and add to your set skills, yet are still feeling an insistent call from within you to keep growing.

-You constantly feel the lack of enthusiasm and excitement. You feel disengaged daily. You are bored, unchallenged and stagnating.

-You feel that your key talents are no longer being used, nor are you able to do what you do best to make the quality of contribution, that you know you are capable of.

-Given recent reorganizations, you feel unaligned with the company’s direction. There is a mismatch between their vision and yours.

-You feel extremely stressed out from the work pressure that is out of balance. Work is important, but so is your health.

If you see yourself in one or more of these scenarios, and have already planned out and took the steps to reach your ultimate goal after employed life, then you’re ready to make the ‘Big Move’.

But before taking the leap, you need to think long and be very careful while thinking through this important step, and make sure your decision is rational, makes practical sense, and your heart is telling you ‘Yes!’
What I learnt from experience, is that when it comes to decisions in your life, never make half-hearted impulsive moves. If your energy and intentions are not in agreement, halt! Because you will simply be working against yourself, if your head and heart are not in tune and on the same frequency.

At the end, make the right decisions for the right reasons and the right things will happen. Line up your energy and intentions; your thoughts and feelings. Take your time to analyze the invisible, yet powerful barriers that will hold you back; the Labels, Illusions, Excuses and Stories. Wait for the moment when your head and heart say, “Yes!” Then, make a solid plan and go for it.

Crossing Over From Being A Manager To A Leader….

imageI was asked recently a very interesting question; “When did you cross over from being a manager to a leader?”. It was a question that I have not asked myself. This got me thinking, trying to figure out when did I actually cross that bridge.

Let’s define the essence of leadership first. I strongly believe that ‘A great leader rallies his people to a vision of a better future, and makes them realize that ‘. Going back to the question; I realized that I crossed the bridge, when I started looking at things differently. It was a change in my behavior. I became preoccupied with the company’s future. I wanted the company to grow and expand, so I challenged it status-quo. I had a vivid image of what the company could be, and this image was my drive. This was my motivation.

 As we all know, leadership is about tomorrow’s business. I had a vision and a purpose for the company, hence; I started altering the way I saw and did things. I wanted the company to jump into the future -the right future- at an accelerated pace, to expand, flourish, and become the top most powerful leading company in its field, no matter the size of the changes and the tremendous effort and pressure required to make that happen. I started finding opportunities that were coming at it, and I successfully exploited them. I was taking risks, but at the same time I knew I was dealing with the ‘possible’. I simply worked on creating and developing the change.

I built my vision and strategy based on my high-end goal for the company based on its people, not based on the circle of power I have. The circle of power is given to you as an aftermath of being a manager.

On the other hand, the leader focuses on people. I created value for my team and what they achieved. I didn’t just count value. I inspired and motivated them, by offering the correct influence and motivation they needed to feel that their efforts do count, which in turn contributed to our company’s success today. I magnified them, their capabilities, and their purpose. This gave them energy, and made them feel excited and want to do the work because it serves a great purpose. I gave them credit and made them see that they are the heroes behind the success that the company achieved. I simply shared the focus, empowered my people and inspired innovation.

I had what you call ‘The circle of influence’. It is creating one’s unique voice that has an outstanding influencing effect on the company and the people around you. I was seen as someone who provides optimism, positive energy, intelligence, peace, compassion and confidence. The people who sought my advice were not only those reporting to me, on the contrary, many of them were people outside of my reporting hierarchy as well. They look at me, as someone who enhances their strength, and corrects their weaknesses.

A leader has followers, not subordinates. Leaders have the charismatic personality that appeals to their followers. I never forced anyone to become my follower. My followers became so, from their loyalty and respect to me, and most importantly, their blind trust in me.

Talking about loyalty, the leader has to appeal to them enough, and be trusted without limits, to make the people want to follow him. This is what I referred to in my earlier article, as ‘The Power of Personal Charisma’. My followers have proved to me, time and time again, at any given point, that they are with me all the way, willing to take risks, swim in unclear waters and walk the dangerous grounds.

A leader is respected by his followers, not feared. I came to realize by time, that the people around me, did not want to disappoint me, not out of fear, but out of respect for me.

I would like to add a final word; If you are not an optimistic person, nobody will want to go to the future that you see. This means that a leader must have a talent for optimism. “You must believe deeply & instinctively, that things can get better”.

To sum it all up in a few words, I can say that I crossed over from being a manager to a leader, when I started having a vision-in-the-horizon for the company, and focused on inspiring, motivating and amplifying the value of my people.

The Differences Between A Manager And A Leader…

photo 3Let me start by saying, having excellent managerial skills and being able to run a big complex organization solidly and efficiently, so activities function at an optimal level, does not mean you are a leader. It simply means you are a superb manager. A leader, on the other hand, envisions, inspires and motivates. Needless to say, a manager and a leader can not go without one another, and they complement each other, but there is a big difference between the two.
The main difference between them is that managers carry out functions that are required in any business, whereas leaders build relationships between them and their followers that can dynamize an organization.
Leaders create vision and strategy, focus on people, motivate and magnify people, and build trust. Whereas, managers plan, budget, organize, control, solve problems, evaluate and facilitate.
So, leaders set the direction, and create systems that managers can manage, and transform them according the the dynamic changing environment around them to allow innovation, evolution, growth and opportunities. In other words, they deal with the possibilities.
On the other hand, managers plan, deal with the details, magnify processes and procedures, while they efficiently and effectively run the organization and its people day after day, month after month, year after year.
Leaders appeal to the heart, hence, win followers. It is what I call; “The Power of Personal Charisma”. Leaders have the charismatic personality that appeals to their followers. You don’t tell people to follow you; following is a voluntary action which is not only measured by loyalty, but also by respect. 
Leaders make heroes of their followers, which makes them willing to take chances and take risks, because they are inwardly motivated by their leaders. These followers are inspired and influenced by their leaders, and hence, they look to leaders for purpose and for a vision of their destination.
Leaders create circles of influence, not power. It is creating one’s unique voice that has an outstanding influencing effect on the company and the people around you.
Managers appeal to the head and create circles of control, hence, have subordinates who fully trust their manager’s capabilities in running the organization by the book, with great efficiency, and excellent skills. They look to their managers for road maps that guide them on how to get to their destination.
A leader’s energy is driven by his passion, thus empowering and inspiring innovation, while the manager’s energy is driven by his control, thus ensuring rules and processes are followed.
“Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control”.