Why do I want to shape leaders of tomorrow and why should you care?

  any have asked me why I founded bspark. The short answer would be: to     

  create a better world. As this is not a “Miss Universe” competition and I am a

pragmatic idealist, I have been working on practical solutions to do so. To really understand where does it all come from and why is it important to all of us, I decided to share my personal story with you.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN TO MY COUNTRY?

Since my young years, I realized the impact leaders have on everyone’s life.

Early 90’s, Former Yugoslavia. I was 12 years old and though I did not understand much, I did see what was happening around me. I was living in a country at war. There was no conflict in my region, but neighbors and relatives were going to war or fleeing the country, shops were empty, migrants from Bosnia were arriving daily to our hometown, hyperinflation kicked in. Imagine 1 liter of milk that costs € 1 today, € 10 a few days later to end at € 15 in just one week.

The changes around us were impacting our everyday life. By the time I turned 14, my parents decided to move to Hungary so my brother wouldn´t have to join the army and we would have a brighter future. I had to leave behind everything I knew, everything that I considered part of me: friends, relatives, my town, my school, my life really. We didn´t have much, but I was happy.

Only when I reached Hungary I asked for the first time why did this happen to my country? And more importantly, how did the country’s leaders allow that the lives of so many people got destroyed? It was then that I started wondering what I could do.

HOW CAN I CHANGE THINGS?

My first impulse was to go into politics because the course of things needs to be changed from the top. It sounded logical if it weren’t for one thing. Everyone who knows me will tell you that I am no POLITICIAN and could not act like one. Self-interest and deception in the best cases, manipulation, nepotism and corruption in the worse scenarios. There had to be another way.

 

So, I turned to the one thing that ensures we make the best choices: EDUCATION. If we can teach children how to change things, the world will change day by day. I believed in it, but it would take a generation or two and the impact would be limited to a number of students.

 

So, I searched for another way: we could do it through WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS WITH INFLUENCE who could positively impact the lives of many. They could really change things. But, the majority of people with money and power do not want to change the status quo. And if you are poor you do not usually have influence ... I could not find my way to change things but kept wandering about it.

 

WHAT DID LIFE EXPERIENCE TEACH ME?

So life goes on. I started working in a small company and the void of not improving the world the way I thought was right was always at my side. With 26, I joined a large multinational to work on brand strategy. Dynamism, variety, professional and personal development, there was even an ethical code ... I was ecstatic! I thought from here I am finally going to change things!

Yet little by little I began to realize small and big injustices. The same you must have experienced at some point eventually. Someone is promoted because (s)he is a friend or a relative of the boss. You are being asked to polish the numbers to sell a better story to the global team. Salary gaps between comparable performances, mobbing, harassment, tension, anger, gender issues and so much more. In companies, hospitals, public administration, sports, wherever you look. But what is the impact of these behaviors on you and all of us? Low integrity, frustrated employees, depression, people go home to argue with their family, individuals with no time or energy for themselves or their friends and even less to think about their impact on others, on the planet. We go out drinking, shopping, watch TV “not to think” or to “rest our mind”. But the bigger picture remains untapped. ... It seems quite doomed ... and I did not even tackle the issue of corruption and unethical behavior.

Still, we do not always reach these extremes. Luckily, we have other types of leaders, who are more aware of the issues, who promote the potential of their employees, who think long-term, who think about the welfare of all and not only their own interests. Did you have bosses like that? Did you notice the difference in yourselves and in your life? I did. My first boss was like that.

Finally, I got a position in another multinational where I could form a team and influence leaders. I was lucky enough to work with very talented people in my team: it was great to work together towards our vision. Yet the leaders within the organization were not ready, open or willing to listen to our ideas: I was offering innovative solutions for benefit of all, but it was many times like banging my head against a brick wall – causing conflicts with leadership, little change and a lot of frustration. Their didn´t behave like that because they are bad people, mostly they were trying to protect their position, their respect, they acted out of insecurity, lack of emotional intelligence, bad experiences...There are thousand reasons behind every bad behavior.

BUT WHY? WHY DO LEADERS GET TO THIS POINT?

At university they prepare us with technical knowledge, but nobody teaches us how to think for ourselves, how to understand others, how to manage ourselves, how to take care of ourselves. I realized that this was the foundation that was lacking for change to happen. But I could not do it alone. I left my job and did a Global Executive MBA to understand what was happening in the rest of the world, I talked to colleagues, friends and my family around the world.

I wanted to know how would they change this situation.

How would you do it?

And I asked them what if we teach young talents how to maintain integrity, how to influence others and give them support from an ethical community? Maybe this is what we have to leave as a legacy to the following generations so that they can CHANGE THE WORLD and cause a domino effect within their organizations. I believe in this vision. I think it is the way every one of us can positively impact their own environment.

Many have told me that it is impossible to change things. If we do not do anything, most certainly nothing will change. I know I cannot do it alone. But together we can make the change. Because, as they say, the future is not what is yet to come, but what we create.

Wanna know more ? Always happy to discuss how to make it even better, just contact me at vera.mandic@b-spark.org

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