Professor Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic is an international award-winning thought leader, an activist for humanising management, and an author of a ground-breaking book ‘The Management Shift – How to Harness the Power of People and Transform Your Organisation for Sustainable Success’, which was listed by Forbes as one of the top eight business books in 2014. Driven by her passion and purpose to make this world a better place, she is creating a global impact with her work, helping thousands of leaders and organisations worldwide to shift to a higher level of performance and profit whilst creating more engaging, purposeful, and happier workplaces that do well by doing good. She is a Founder and CEO of Management Shift Solutions Limited, a leading-edge management consultancy and a Professor of Leadership and Management at Hult International Business School (Ashridge).
Professor Vlatka has been voted one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers in the world 2015-2021 by HR Magazine, Most Influential CEO in 2022 by CEO Today and Top 20 Most Successful Women Leaders 2022 by the Corporate Magazine. Her latest book ‘Humane Capital – How to Create a Management Shift to Transform Performance and Profit’ has been chosen as one of the top 5 business books in 2018 by HR Magazine and the Foreword was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Professor Vlatka shares the key trends in the HR Department to watch out for in future, her thoughts on talent shortage and tips for CEOs and hiring managers to manage the same, personal career path, and a lot more. Following are the excerpts from the interview.
According to you, which keys trends will shape the Human Resource department over the next five years?
I think there are a number of trends that will shape the Human Resource department in the next five years. For example, dealing with the Great Resignation which also brings great opportunities to transform and change the way businesses are managed and led. The big question is how can organisations attract and keep the talent. Other trends are related to employee well-being and workplace flexibility. I think the hybrid world of work will stay with us.
The next trend I see is upskilling and reskilling talent especially managers and leaders who will require the skills needed to lead as conscious leaders to create companies that are fit for the twenty first century, companies that are collaborative, purposeful, people-focused, not just chasing short-term profits and not treating people well.
Another trend is that more and more organisations realize how important is purpose, working on something bigger, making contributions to the society, not just be internally focused but to work with the ecosystem and making this world a better place.
In addition, issues such as equity, inclusion, and diversity will also stay important within the human resources area. So, these are some of the key trends that are to watch out for. But at the end of the day, it is really about attracting and keeping the talent and creating caring, collaborative purpose-based cultures which I think is going to continue to be very important.
What do you think about talent shortage? What are a few practical tips you want to give to CEOs and hiring managers to manage the talent shortage?
To answer in short, I would say you need Level 4 leadership style and organisational culture to attract new and keep existing talent. This is based on the 5-Level Management Shift Model which is rooted in many years of my interdisciplinary research and is described in more detail in my book ‘The Management Shift’.
So based on all this research, I discovered that there are five levels that our individual mindset goes through and there is a corresponding organisational culture at every level. Every level is characterized by specific thinking patterns, behaviors, beliefs, leadership style, language used, and organisational outcomes. We cannot skip the levels, but we can have pockets of different levels within the same organisation. For example, at level 1, the mindset is lifeless, culture is apathetic, not much gets done, there is lots of fear, blame, a toxic culture and yelling bosses. It is a very sad place to be in but sometimes we see that in some organisations. At level 2, the mindset is reluctant, and culture is stagnating. This is where people do minimum, they can get away with just to get their pay checks. They bring their body to work by their heart and mind stay at home.
Then, at level 3, we have controlled mindset an orderly culture. This is traditional command of control management where people do what they are told to do, they tick the boxes, they achieve KPIs, but we still see low levels of engagement, performance, innovation, and this has an impact on profit as well. Level 3 (or below) is where majority of organisations are today, and this is one of the key reasons why we see various problems such as the Great Resignation, staff are leaving, and in many organisations there is a low level of engagement, innovation and profit as well.
Therefore, to address the problem of talent shortage as well as problems with low performance, low engagement and so on, organisations need to operate at level 4 and leaders need to operate at level 4. At level 4, everything changes; the mindset is enthusiastic, the culture is collaborative, the key words are trust, transparency, purpose, collaboration and working on something bigger than ourselves. At this level we see a step change increase in staff retention, attracting the right talent, an increase in performance, innovation, and profit. Occasionally, we can reach level 5 with limitless mindset and unbounded culture; this is where highly innovative teams work day and night on some amazing innovations for humanity.
Organisational culture is a key differentiator between successful and not-so successful organisations. What is the role of HR in creating an organisational culture?
HR should play a crucial role in organisational culture. It should all be about people, focusing on people, training, and developing people, attracting the right people, and retaining the right people so HR should be at the heart of creating organisational culture that is fit for purpose, that is based on people collaboration, and purpose which is as I already explained the level 4 culture.
Please shed some light on your career path and how you started your career in the HR field, and grew to your current role as the Founder & CEO at Management Shift Solutions Limited?
Few decades ago, I started my career as a computer scientist and then about eighteen years ago, I decided to become a behavioural scientist because I always had a passion for people, for leadership development, for improving people’s lives and for creating companies that are happier, healthier, more impactful workplaces. My initial training in computer science helped me to develop the tools and processes that I developed as a part of the Management Shift Approach, and I have been using this with thousands of leaders from various organisations globally in the last fifteen years or so. I am very much purpose driven as I feel it is my mission to make this world a better place and humanize the world of business and help to create more conscious leaders that will do well for the society, not just for themselves and their organisations. Hence, I had this big shift in my career and am very much driven to use everything I developed based on my research with as many leaders and companies worldwide as possible to help them to go for this big shift, a big transformation from level 3 to level 4 where everything changes.
As an executive coach, how do you help leaders to accelerate individual and organisational transformation and success?
Based on everything I have learned from my experience and extensive interdisciplinary research; I have also developed an online e-learning program for accreditation of The Management Shift coaches. I have pulled all this knowledge together from my work with many CEOs over the years and I decided that this is the best way to develop other coaches to do the work that I have been doing and use my methods and tools to help create conscious leaders that will make a difference to their organisations and society at large.
My method is based on the 5-level Management Shift Model and there are lots of tools and processes I had developed including assessment tools to help leaders and companies to move from level 3 to level 4.
One of the coaches who finished accreditation and training using my methods said that she achieved in three sessions with leaders what would normally take six sessions using other methods and so by using the Management Shift coaching approach the results are much quicker.
Can you please brief us about your book, ‘The Management Shift’?
‘The Management Shift’ book is my life’s work; it is based on more than two decades of my interdisciplinary research that helped me to develop The 5-level Management Shift Model, theory and tools for individual and organisational transformation. The Management Shift approach has been used for coaching individual C-suite leaders to shift from level 3 to level 4 and the benefits they obtained are numerous, from improving performance, wellbeing, having the big picture, making a difference in the society to having a more purposeful and fulfilled life. That is the individual part of the transformation. For organisational transformation, I then did more research and created the 6 Box Leadership Model and associated diagnostic tool which can measure hidden strengths and weaknesses in six areas of: culture (so we can see what kind of culture organisation has), relationships (measuring how well people work together), individuals (measuring what kind of mindset, drive, motivation they have), strategy (how it gets developed and executed), systems (how the work gets done) and resources. I also explained all the research behind this model in The Management Shift book as well as various case studies that were done and where the model has been used.
I call this organisational diagnostics an MIR for organisation; with this we can scan hundreds or thousands of people at the same time anonymously and we can collect quantitative and qualitative data as people can write the comments about every question. There are 120 questions measuring all these six areas or six boxes and then we can see where are the key strengths and weaknesses, which part of organisational body needs to be healed, and then during Action Planning process that I developed, so to speak, we can prescribe medicine and create specific list of actions that need to be taken to leverage strengths, address weaknesses or bottlenecks, and then we can measure the impact once this is implemented.
Therefore, The Management Shift book describes these key tools and models for transformation. Moreover, the Management Shift approach is also known as the ‘How’ of this big shift from old to new ways of working which are more productive, innovative, and profitable. So, the book sets the blueprint for this ‘How’ of the big transformation.
How do you describe your leadership style? What values are important to you as a leader?
I always try to embody level 4 and 5 leadership style, which is all about purpose, networking, collaboration, and working on something bigger than ourselves. As I mentioned before, I am very much purpose driven, and I do my best to walk the talk and to embody the level 4/5 leadership style that I also call conscious leadership, with awareness about ourselves and others and the impact we have on other people around us that we lead.
So, what is important for me as a leader is to inspire people and to give them hope, to give them tools and knowledge to become such leaders themselves and do good and do well at the same time and have more inspirational, purposeful, happier, healthier, and productive lives.
Which key pillars of humane leadership, employee engagement, and evolutionary change are currently taking place in businesses across the world?
I think it really varies from business to business, but I also feel that there is an increasing awareness among businesses and business leaders that business as usual is not an option anymore, that companies need to be led by different approach, by level 4, conscious approach. Also, more and more businesses are realizing the importance of purpose. Purpose is the binding element in any organisational culture where people understand what is the higher purpose of what they do.
To give you an example from legendary management thinker Peter Drucker, who shared the story related to two people carving the stones for cathedral. The first one was asked what he was doing, and he replied, “I am carving the stones to be paid to feed my family”. When the second one was asked the same question, he said, “I am carving the stones to build a cathedral which will be standing here for hundreds of years to come for future generations”. So, the point I want to make is more emphasis on purpose, more emphasis our wellbeing, and attracting and keeping the right talent is needed. As I already mentioned, the only way to do this is to have level 4/5 culture, mindset, and leadership style.
How do you motivate your team?
The main motivator is purpose. We are a very purposeful business so my team helps me with my business, they resonate with our mission and purpose, and they would go an extra mile to help me to provide extraordinary services to our clients and for that I am hugely grateful. It is all about understanding that we are making a world a better place by doing what we are doing within Management Shift Solutions Limited.
Which one of your accomplishments makes you the proudest till date?
Of course, there are professional accomplishments, various awards, and recognitions that I have received during my professional career, and I am very grateful for all this recognition. However, on a personal level, my biggest and most important accomplishment is bringing up my two children by myself who turned out to be wonderful young adults and I am hugely proud of them.
You have had a remarkable career trajectory over the years. What is the secret mantra behind your success?
The secret is I am very much mission-driven so my mission to make this world a better place is a huge driving force, as well as a desire to create a better world for the young generation, for my children and their children and everybody else’s children. So, I am driven to make a positive difference for people around me, my clients and wider society. I don’t see my work as work to make a living. I see it as my calling and the reason why I am here on Earth at this time and this is a huge driving force that gives me boundless energy.
How do you help leaders and organisations to transform?
Over the years, based on my interdisciplinary research, I have created various assessment tools, models, and processes, the know-how that helps individual leaders and organisations to transform and shift from level 3 to level 4 with various benefits. So, as I already mentioned we use the 5-level model for individual transformation and the 6 Box Leadership Model and diagnostic tool to help leaders and the entire organisation (or part of the organisation) to shift from level 3 to level 4. We can anonymously survey hundreds or thousands of employees, within twenty minutes or so, discover where exactly the hidden strengths and weaknesses are and then we can create a laser-focused action plan with specific individual and organisation actions that need to be implemented so that the entire organisation can shift from level 3 to level 4 and then we can monitor the impact of those actions, and re-scan if needed.
We also have an e-learning platform, serious play strategy board games, and membership area with over 65 resources, including case studies, videos, interviews with leaders and other learning material for transformation. Over the years, I created a large number of tools and resources that leaders can use for transformation and these are known as the ‘how’ of this big shift from old ways of working to new ways of working which are more purposeful, collaborative, people-based, which ensure that we know when we work in that way we all make this world a better place which is hugely important. More information about our programmes and resources for transformation are available at: https://managementshiftsolutions.com.