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Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get REAL

5 min read
December 1, 2021


Rare are management of companies that would not, with deep sight, complain about non-effective processes, lack of clear vision, confusing organizational structure and culture and non-engaged employees. Employees will, with even deeper sight, discuss non-effective processes, lack of clearly communicated vision, organizational structure and culture they are not aware of (and are expected to “live it”)…

Researches have shown that when that proverbial thing hits the fan, members of the business community start asking basic questions: WHO is doing WHAT and WHY? Who makes decisions and HOW? Is our business sustainable and for HOW LONG? If circumstances change, are we lean and mean enough to MOVE FORWARD?

As different as the answers to these questions (depending on the context) might be, they all come down to common denominators: excuses why something “is not”, or explanations that things in their company “are different”.

In our disruptive reality, we came to realize that for the sustainable success it takes much more than knowing how to steer employees toward the achievement of the business goals, how to drive change and deliver results. Managers and leaders are more and more required to exhibit a set of skills and capabilities that were not so much in focus before. The big shift, started at the dawn of the VUCA world and, most recently, influenced by “COVID-19 state of mind” is pushing us all to acknowledge that the elephant is in the room: Leaders require the ability to build and maintain a strong and collaborative team of individuals working towards the same goal. Building a trustworthy team requires other leadership strengths, like effective communication skills and conflict resolution. Relationship building is potentially one of the most important skills to a leadership role as it makes communication of tasks, responsibilities and goals more effective. And it needs to be put into action. And now.

Idea about the concept we are about to present came as a result of my years in the corporative milieu where I was a witness and active participant in efforts to create a conducive environment where both employees and their leaders would have the opportunity to thrive both in achieving business results and cultivating relationships.

Experience and drive for practical approach led to formulating four pillars of the concept, each defining one particular set of skills we believe can help leaders of today become even more effective leaders of tomorrow.

REAL (Resilience, Empathy, Agility, Love) is envisioned in order to try to give answers to both straightforward and those more intangible elements of business which is shaken to the core:

Resilience (R) as the human capacity to meet adversity and setbacks, and to recover from them without giving up. Resilient leaders are the ones with ability to sustain their energy level under pressure, to cope with disruptive changes and adapt. They are able to overcome major difficulties without engaging in dysfunctional behavior or harming others. They manage to react proactively to stressful reality and lead by example in times of crisis.

Empathy (E), as the crucial component of emotional intelligence, enabling leaders to see the world from “other people’s shoes”. By embracing empathy, they can show understanding and ask for understanding from others and use it to guide their actions. It requires a whole set of almost forgotten skills, such as listening to others, showing real interest in their lives and fostering meaningful relationships with them.

Agility (A), ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, flexibility, reshaping strategies, structures, people and technologies. These are proving crucial for sustainability and competitiveness of the business using the process of continuous learning. If the business can adapt and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way that doesn’t compromise the quality of their product or service, then that business will weather almost any storm. It not only helps a business when markets change, but it gives them a competitive advantage over other business that are slower to action.

Love (L), basically meaning “love what you do”. This bold statement should not be confused with „do what you love“, as it would be to much to expect that we can all do what we love. On the other hand, if our love is for the title, position or money, there will never be a real fulfilment in work. Loving what you do basically means finding joy in our chosen career and focusing our energy, efforts and motivation on it. It can be the actual job, or the impact it has on us and others, anticipation of future rewards than can bring positive change to our environment.

HEADS ADRIATIC is one company that embraced these ideas early enough. Living the values of REAL is helping them to acomplish sustainable success in challenging circumstances of 2020. Simultaneously, being part of the team has enabled me to witness first hand how REAL works when REALly put into practice.

In the next series of articles, we will be focusing on each of the building blocks of this concept aimed at strengthening capabilities of leaders and managers in this volatile and unpredictable business world of today. By using practical examples, we will assist them in steering the ship of changes and contributing to the development of processes, people and organization as a whole.

The world and the business world will never be the same. Without pretending to put any value to it — better, worse… we don’t know. But, different. That much we know. Adjusting to it might be one of the greatest challenges this civilization has ever encountered.


Author: Svetlana Mirković Borčić, People and Culture Manager

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