2005 — Scaling Up
Bring in a smooth talking stranger and you will soon know the true value of everybody.
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After five years as an expatriate manager in Belgrade, Serbia, I played a key role in securing a major international contract and moved to Zagreb, Croatia to open the new office of Colliers International there. In parallel, I served as the Regional Operations Director and Managing Partner for Colliers International Southeast Europe and played a key role in building nine offices throughout Albania, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria and provided ad-hoc services in Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During this period, the company was elected three times in a row as the best Corporate Real Estate company in Southeast Europe and received three awards as best Employer- an award given to organizations showing exceptional results in their people management practices.
For seven years in a row our annual revenues grew by 700% on the average. Today I believe that our unprecedented business growth and success were largely result of:
- The authenticity and determination of the leaders
- The strengths of the core culture and values, which were the only “rules and procedures”
- The lack of rigid structure, bureaucracy and silos
- The immediacy in addressing improvements when needed
- The resilience that aroused out of surviving unprecedented crucibles
- The experience in working for years in volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity
- The high level of democracy and open communication
- The focus on raising the level of self-awareness and on the emotional and mental growth of key people
- The trust we had in navigating through values, intuition and inspiration
- The commitment to be a factor of social change in our communities
- The aspiration to positively impact lives of all stakeholders and make a difference as a whole.
However, exactly when we started seeing the first real fruits of years of very hard work, we made some of our biggest mistakes.
Because, we did not take the time back to reflect on what we did well and started believing instead that we are lacking structure, procedures, operational manuals and clear department structure and chain of command. Today I know that a lot of the “deficiencies” were actually the main organization’s strengths.
I will use here part of the famous quote of Marianne Williamson as a navigation to others in such moments: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
My Key Learnings from That Time
Some of the worst evil in the world is caused by people who have completed some of worlds’ most acclaimed educational institutions but have not evolved spiritually. Beware. They speak well, they look well, they know well. However, they do not do well.
When you go forward look back to see if people are following because pushing them and telling them is not the same as pulling them and leading them. Also, believing it and wanting it is not the same as inspiring and empowering them.
I’ve always used my intuition rather than my mind when hiring or assessing people. However, I learnt that if your heart and your intuition tell you nothing, you need to count it also as a firm no. And, do not silence your inner voice just because you really wish for the best to happen.
Don’t trust people who play roles and games to get to the bottom of what others really think. Never play roles back when others play roles on you. Being authentic and treating people right will always open more doors than everything else combined together.
Probably the worst sins you can do as a leader is to surround yourselves only with likeminded and not give yourself enough time to stop, reflect and tune into your heart and your intuition. Why? Because in such periods, it is very easy to perceive something totally mindless as mindful.
Admitting when you are wrong in front of everybody is as important as persisting when you are right. Both are difficult because when you face strong opinions, it can take a lot of time to be sure if you are really right or really wrong especially if you do not tune into your intuition.
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