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Sean Pillot de Chenecey chats with Vlatka Hlupic, voted one of the top influential thinkers in the world since 2015 by HR Magazine, a best-selling author and professor at Hult Ashridge Executive Education.

In the podcast Vlatka discusses:

  • The Management Shift approach
  • How she works with organisations to shift them to levels 4 and 5
  • Cultural differences and their effects on The Management Shift
  • What different staff members are looking for in their work
  • What kinds of events Vlatka works in best and the books and games she has produced to help her audiences learn more effectively
  • Why “business as usual” is not an option any more

Book links:

The Management Shift

Humane Capital

Episode #109

The Management Shift approach

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (00:04): Hello. This podcast is care of Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau representing a select group of the world’s finest thinkers and thought leaders. Founded in 1999, today Speakers Associates operate out of nine countries with seven offices covering the UK, Europe and Middle East. I’m Sean Pillot de Chenecey, author of the Post Truth Business and Influencers and Revolutionaries. In this series, I interview a range of fascinating individuals, proudly represented by the bureau. These change agents and industry experts give an update on their specialist areas of knowledge, and also on their motivations and viewpoints regarding the future of business. Today, I’m really pleased to be joined by the fascinating individual Vlatka Hlupic. She’s amongst the world’s top most influential HR thinkers, an international award-winning thought leader on leadership 4.0, an activist for humanizing management and an author of two groundbreaking books. The Management Shift: How to Harness the Power of People and Transform Your Organization For Sustainable Success and Humane Capital. She’s also the founder of Management Shift Consulting. She’s a Professor of Leadership and Organizational Management at Hult Ashridge Executive Education. She’s a renowned professional keynote and TEDx speaker and readily presents that major business events worldwide, including events at the Houses of Parliament, the European Commission, Home Office, the Global Peter Drucker Forum, the Economist and the Financial Times. So Vlatka after that incredibly impressive biography. Welcome.

Vlatka Hlupic (01:50): Thank you.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (01:51): So here we are then. And tell me so, I mean, we could talk about a absolutely extraordinary range of things given your fairly spectacular background, but to start somewhere, what sort of things at the moment do you see as really impacting your clients?

Vlatka Hlupic (02:08): Well, there are some global issues and trends such as globalization problem with climate change and technological innovations, digitization, geopolitical challenges and so on, but they’re also internal issues that companies are dealing with. For example, global levels of engagement are very lonely 13 to 17, 18% of people are full engaged at work, low levels of performance, low levels of passion and purpose. And in the last 50 years, corporate life expectancy and performance have declined by 75%. So different surveys paint, a similar picture. A vast majority of the global workforce is disengaged and dissatisfied with their work. And at the same time, as we embracing all these technological innovations in the fourth industrial revolution, we also have this need to unleash our humanity and to create workplaces, which are more, just more diverse and to create a world which is safer, cleaner with clean soil, air, water. So there’s so many, so many things going on at the moment.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (03:27): Can you tell me, I mean, I know that you’ve always been viewed as a really, really groundbreaking thinker. So am I writing presuming that when you first began talking about these issues, were people listening or were you fighting an uphill battle for initially?

Vlatka Hlupic (03:41): Well, I started preaching all this about 10 years ago, so there were very, very few early adopters at that time, but I researched this for so many years and I started my career as a computer scientist, and then I became behavioral scientist. I had the passion for people for person development. So I studied lots and lots of different disciplines from computer science and OB economics, neuroscience, psychology. And because of that interdisciplinary background, I have been able to connect the dots from different disciplines and create a process and the system known as the Management Shift, which is seen as the how of this big shift from always of working based on hierarchical command and control standardization, specialization, bureaucratization all that worked well in the first industrial revolution. And it is widely used in majority of organizations even today. And it is very detrimental for performance in modern organizations in the fourth industrial revolution.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (04:53): And can you tell me, so when did, can I think, was there a sort of damascene conversion for you? Was there some amazing moment when you saw the light and thought, oh wow. As you put it I’ve suddenly connected the dots or what?

Vlatka Hlupic (05:09): Well, I research all these areas for a long time, for a number of years. And then about 10 years ago, I had this vision after I synthesized a lot of models, theories, I had this vision for the five level model of the Management Shift, which shows the five levels that our individual mindset goes through. And there is a corresponding organizational culture at each of those levels. And every level is characterized by specific thinking patterns, language used, emotion, leadership style, organizational behavior, organizational outcomes. And we can’t skip the levels. We can only go up higher, one level higher at a time. But, we need to go through the big shift where everything changes is when we move from level three to level four, I can briefly describe the levels of

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (06:04): Yeah, please do.

Vlatka Hlupic (06:06): referring to them. So, so at level one, we have a lifeless mindset and pathetic culture, not much gets done. People are too depressed to do anything. There’s lots of blame and fear. And then at level two, the mindset is reluctant and culture is stagnating. At this level people do minimum. They can get away with just to get the paycheck so that they bring their body to work, but their heart and mindset at home and leaders are very uninspirational. Think about David Brent from TV Serious Office. And at level three, we have controlled mindset, orderly culture. This is traditional command and control. We are micromanaged. We do what they told, what we are told to do. And we are led by big leaders with big egos. So levels one to three, this is traditional management and leadership. This is where majority of organizations are today.

Vlatka Hlupic (07:03): I would say by 80, 85%, but we have low levels of engagement, passion, purpose, performance. As I mentioned, largely because of that. And then we go through the management shift, the big shift, we go to level four, where mindset becomes enthusiastic and culture collaborative, and the keywords are trust, transparency, purpose, collaboration, having fun, working, giving back to the society, becoming socially and environmentally responsible. At that level, we get a step change increase in performance, engagement, innovation, value creation, and profit. And occasionally we can reach level five with a limitless mindset and unbounded culture. At that level, we have highly innovative teams that work day and night on some amazing innovations for the society, such as Google X Lab, inventing driverless cars, for example. So the objective is to be anchored at a level four. We can temporarily sleep down if we go through some red or rough patch, but we bounce back quickly and easily to level four.

Vlatka Hlupic (08:16): Occasionally we go to level five. We can’t be there all the time. We would just burn out. So, my work is about shifting leaders and organizations to level four. And I used the five level model about 10 years ago to help see level executives to move from level three to level four. And then one day I had another epiphany. I love big ideas and I love even more to make them happen in reality. So I thought shifting one leader or leadership time, at the time, it’s just not good enough. It’s not fast enough. I had to figure out how to shift entire organization to level four. And how to shift many organizations to level four at the same time. So I went back to my research and I did a lot, a lot of more research and through thematic analysis, I created framework with around hundred 50 factors, the drive performance innovation value creation, so on, and I group them in six areas.

Vlatka Hlupic (09:19): And then I have created an online diagnostic tool, which can measure hidden strengths and weaknesses in the areas of culture. What kind of culture organization has relationships? How will people work together, individuals, their mindset drive motivation strategy? How it gets developed and executed systems? How the work gets done and resources? So this is like an organizational MRI.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (09:44): Yeah.

Vlatka Hlupic (09:44): So I would scan the organization and then I would, in the next phase, prescribe the medicine. So work collaboratively with the organization to develop a specific one interaction plan to leverage strengths and address weaknesses, shift to level four, improve innovation, engagement, profit, pitch codes with the shift to level four. So somebody gave me a nickname, a doctor for organization because of this analogy.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (10:14): Fantastic. Can I ask in terms of how your, thinking and advice lands culturally? Cause I know obviously you’re very, very high profile speaker, huge amount of travel, you know, bluntly put, do you find yourself, you know, landing in different parts of the world where they, the audience just get it straight away or in other areas there’s pushback. How do you find that?

Vlatka Hlupic (10:39): I would say that in some parts of the world, this whole idea, which is based by huge amount of research, not just my research, but other scholars have looked into this area as well. In some parts of the world, such as, for example, Scandinavia, these ideas come more naturally and are more easily adopted. And in some other parts of the world that are more traditional hierarchical and some, maybe some parts of Asia, for example, it doesn’t come so naturally to let go and to empower people at level four. But once people get the awareness of the power of the consequences of going through this big shift, when they see the figures, when we improve, for example, profit in two years by about 200%, then they would start to listen and then they would be willing to go on that journey and to go through the shift. But it might take longer in some parts of the world, as you mentioned.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (11:36): Yeah. Yeah. I was gonna lead on to that to say, I was gonna lead that to say, you know, was there a particular person that’s been, you know, particularly inspiring to you, but then actually earlier on, we were talking about the staggering figure that wrote the intro to your new book, please. You’ve gotta tell the listeners about this. I was stunned.

Vlatka Hlupic (11:57): Well, this is related to my latest book.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (11:59): Yeah, yeah.

Vlatka Hlupic (12:00): Humane Capital. So the managership, that is my life’s work based on over 25 years of my interdisciplinary research and consulting experience and coaching experience. And, after I launched the Management Shift, my whole life changed, I had been speaking everywhere, traveling and I launched my company. And then I thought, what shall I do as the next step? And then I decided, to interview 50 leaders, a global CEOs about their own strategies and mindset for this big shift. So how had they have done that in their own organizations? At the end, I interviewed 58 leaders and I synthesized all the findings from this research in my new book, Humane Capital. And once I completed the book, I was collecting some endorsements for the book jacket and I managed to get the address for his Holiness office.

Vlatka Hlupic (12:55): And, I thought I’m just going to send an email. I probably will not get reply, but it doesn’t cost me anything just to send an email. So I did. So I said, this is the book I wrote. Would you please look at it? And if you like it, maybe just gimme a few words for endorsement. So they, they agreed. And then few weeks later I got an email. This is one of the best books ever that we have seen. We will not give you endorsement. We will write foreword. And I have obtained foreword, signed by his Holiness Dalai Lama. And apart from all the formal recognition, the awards for me, this is the most special recognition in my career so far for my work.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (13:38): Oh, sure. It’s just, absolutely mind blowing. It’s fantastic. And I know you hugely hugely deserved, but I mean, absolutely incredible. And then what about the way that you know, if one could just bluntly put it that, you know, business in general, a terrible term, I know. But you know, but let’s just play that game business in general. Are you now seeing a real acceptance of the type of progressive activity that you recommend or are you still having to convince some leaders who don’t want to be convinced? Are you still having occasional battle?

Vlatka Hlupic (14:17): I still have occasional battle and I still have to occasionally convince people, but once I give them the facts, the figures, the research behind it, once I share stories about the life changing impact of this big shift, then the people start to listen. And the analogy I use is when people are stuck at level three, it’s like the brick wall in front of them. So I create the cracks in this wall so the light come through, so people get the awareness. Once they get awareness and the facts and figures, they become more open to this change, to this big shift. And when people ask me, how do your clients find you? I would say, through inspiration or desperation. So they are desperate to find something different, to survive. Otherwise the company will not survive. And majority of the leaders I interviewed for Humane Capital book said that if they did not go for these big shift some years ago, they would not be around anymore as a company.

Vlatka Hlupic (15:19): It was a matter of survival. But it’s also a matter of surviving and having a true happiness and purposeful life and be happy and fulfilled at work. And then the other type of leaders that I would work with, with would be inspirational leaders, that they have the awareness of level four and five, and they do well, but they want to do even better. And they want to sustain on a long-term basis, doing well and leading humane, collaborative, purposeful, happy workplaces that do well and do good at the same time.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (15:58): And then is this also being translated into things, the world of MBA courses, or sort of, you know, business education in general? I mean, is this, is your message landing primarily, you know, with boards, with leaders, but is it also, you know, say going right in either at that level where young, super enthusiastic MBA students, for example, are being grabbed by business schools, are they teaching them the same thing basically?

Vlatka Hlupic (16:25): Well, I do this morning. This morning, I taught my MBA class at Health International Business School where I teach Organizational Behavior. And this is exactly what I’m teaching them and hugely enthusiastic and embracing this ideas. So I’m trying to create leaders of the future and give them the skills so they can be leveled four, five leaders once they take on more senior leadership roles. At the same time, I work with senior executives, either through Ashridge Executive Education or through the Management Shift Consulting, my consulting company. And many of them embrace those ideas and are very keen to apply and implement this in practice and achieve results. And I’ve been using this, this approach over the last 10 years or so with dozens of organizations worldwide to help them to go through this big shift.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (17:21): Okay. And then what about on an age basis and also age and gender? So are you again, do you notice a difference whether you’re talking to, let’s say to bluntly put in generational terms, a boomer audience, or a generation X audience, or a millennial audience, or indeed a male female audience or whether it be in a boardroom or one on one or in your, in the college or conferences. So is there something going on, say general generationally or gender where your advice lands on the most fertile ground?

Vlatka Hlupic (17:56): I do avoid stereotyping and generalization overall, but I would say that research would show that level four traits are more kind of feminine related to feminine traits. And both female and male leaders can exhibit that sort of caring collaborative side. And then level three leadership, it’s more about action oriented and power and strength and taking charge, which is more aligned with male traits. But both male and female leaders can show this trait. On the other hand, with the younger generation, some research shows that the younger generation, they don’t wanna be micromanaged and we know knowledge workers. They don’t want to be micromanaged. They need to be treated as associates, not as subordinates. They would just withdraw corporation silently or go elsewhere. And the younger generation, they want purpose. They want feedback opportunities for growth, and they don’t want to be micromanaged either. So, so for knowledge workers for younger generation, which are, and they’re going to be majority of the workforce very soon, we need level for a leadership to get most out of their skills and potential and their passion for work.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (19:16): And then let’s say, so you, you are advising a corporation or an organization of any type that have not yet put this sort of action into place of which I’m sure there are many, many unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately from you because you do very well advising them. In terms of the sort of credibility gap from where they are right now to where they need to be. Are there things you could advise them? I mean, is it a, are there things they can put in place quickly as a sort of fast track thing, or is it a slow and ponderous change or is it a action action type thing?

Vlatka Hlupic (19:53): Well, you mentioned the credibility gap. I saw a survey of over 1009, 1,900 employees and from 19 markets. And they found out that only 19% of employees perceive a strong match between how employer represents itself and how they personally experience that employer. So there is a mismatch and there is a lack of authenticity. And to bridge this gap, we need level four cultures. We need cultures, which are collaborative, authentic, genuine. And, they genuinely want to do well, and they want to do good for the society, not just, maximize short term profit, for example. And they have strategic alignment for all stakeholders, not just taking care of shareholders, for example, and so on. So there are lots of things that can be done to shift the culture in my experience takes about nine to 12 months of conscious effort to do it. So you need to put certain processes and plans and actions in place to achieve it. It is achievable. And for example, with the six box leadership scan, we can see where the strengths and weaknesses are, and we don’t shoot in the dark. We can see exactly where we need to target actions to make this happen.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (21:17): And then what about the point? You mentioned there about the, sort of the short termism point of view, because I think, again, one of the harsh realities of a lot of corporate life we’re always told is that the sheer turnover of speed of executives is horrendous. So do you often find situation that you’ve advised the CEO or whoever the senior management they’re sitting in front of you today, and you go back a few months later and different faces in the room. Do you have to then just start from scratch or what I mean, is that a problem that you are familiar with?

Vlatka Hlupic (21:49): Yes, I’m familiar with that. We know that the average lifespan for CEOs just few years and when they get their position, they want to achieve a mark. They want to a quick turnover and change and maximize profit and do well for shareholders and all that. So there’s a lot of pressure to do things short term, but when we have a long term view, and when we have CEOs with the long term outlook and who stay in those positions longer, that the whole outlook changes, and then we can then move towards level for cultures and leadership and take into consideration. All stakeholders have a short term view like, we know Paul Pullman, he refused to give quarterly report and the engagement improved, the company grew, the share prices went up and so on. So it, it’s a great example how it can be done, it should be done.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (22:46): Okay. And then in terms of the, like the specific sort of actually say context of this conversation, so Speaks Associates and the world of congresses and conventions and conferences and workshops and all the rest of it. Are there any particular types of events that you prefer speaking at? Because again, I think it’s generally accepted that, you know, a lot of conference world inverted commerce can be often, there’s a lot of accusations about most conferences being incredibly boring and unactionable. And then when someone comes along like yourself, who says something genuinely actionable and fascinating people sit up and take notice, but is there a particular style that you prefer, or have you been to any events recent you’ve given presentations events that you thought, wow, that organizer really put on a good show?

Vlatka Hlupic (23:38): I tend to be invited to speak to events where there are lots of C level executives, CEOs, HR directors. So I’ve been giving keynotes events with HR, for HR directors, for CEOs. I’m going to Sweden soon to address 250 to 300 CEOs in the room. And, I do traditional keynote talks, but I also do workshops. So, where I share all this insight, but I also do practical interactive exercises. So the CEOs or HR directors can then reflect on their own organization, do some exercises and put some of the strategies in practice in the context of their own organization. So, I developed a wide range of educational toolkit for executive education that involves serious play board games and then strategy board game and workbooks and handouts and exercises. So I have a vast selection of these toolkit items.

Vlatka Hlupic (24:43): So depending on the duration of the workshop, depending on the size of the event, I can just choose. And like from Lego blocks, I can.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (24:54): Yeah, yeah.

Vlatka Hlupic (24:54): Pick and mix different items, exercises, workbooks games, anything to improve this experiential learning because from studying neuroscience, I understand how we learn how the brain works. So I have created, learning tools that use all our senses and visual and then kinesthetic, emotional and utilizing the gamification, creating a safe environment for people to reflect experiment and think, how would they apply this knowledge I’m sharing in their own organization.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (25:32): Wow. Sounds actually fantastic.

Vlatka Hlupic (25:33): Thank you.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (25:35): Can you tell me, and what about, you mentioned that the term pick and mix just now, I mean, when you are looking out at the world of organizations or corporations, or just individual brands or whatever, are there any ones that you look at that you would identify as being ones who really got it that are leading by example? And you can go, you know, what the difference between you brand A and brand B or corporation and corporation, you know, BIA, is this, that lot, really get it. And this is why, whereas that lot, what are they doing?

Vlatka Hlupic (26:09): Well in Humane Capital book, I feature 35 case studies where I interviewed leaders that went through this shift or helping others to go through this shift and to do well and do good and become more humanized and socially environmentally, more conscious. So I think we all know about some of these examples and they’re featured in my book and there’s some others. So if I look at the personal level as a consumer, I would always look for brands that are socially environmentally responsible and then have non-toxic ingredients and organic, and that they have a proven record of charitable giving, taking care of the environment and really seeing, seeing themselves as a force for good in the society, not just that to make a profit short term, but really generally caring about people they serve and environment and employees and so on.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (27:08): And again, I know you mentioned earlier on that in terms of a sort of a regionalist you mentioned things like, when it comes down to implementing this on a sort of management, structural sort level sort regionally in terms of global regions. So, you know, the Scandinavians seem to get this, it just intrinsically, it fits neatly with this stereotypical, you know, Scandinavian sort of cultural mindset, whereas perhaps there are some Asian countries where it comes is a more difficult, you know, initial, sort of a thing to take on board. What about last couple of questions? Because I’m aware of time and it’s been absolutely amazing. We could keep this one thing for hours and hours. What about, yeah, so people that inspire you, I mean, you’re an incredibly inspiring person, but I mean, you mentioned Dalai Lama, but any other sort of people or indeed publications, what do you read? Where do you go to get inspired?

Vlatka Hlupic (28:04): I have to say that I’m addicted to reading, to learning, and I always have a pile of books on my desk and I go in and out of books and I speed reads sometime because there’s so much I want to read. But one book that I recently read is The Healing Organizations from Professor Rajendra Sisodia and Michael Gelb. And, I know them as well. And, it’s very aligned with my work with Humane Capital, where I interviewed leaders from organizations that have this healing purpose to heal the world, to heal employees and customers with the way they approach business with what they do for the world and so on. So it’s great to see them more and more scholars and thinkers and writers are pushing for this tipping point where we will invert the pyramid.

Vlatka Hlupic (29:03): Now we have more organizations at levels 1, 2, 3, and maybe 15, 20% at the high levels. It’s actually my dream that I see this inverted in my lifetime, so that we have 80, 85% of level four, five organizations making this world a better place. And then majority and then minority organizations at level levels. And I have to say all this work, I feel it’s my life purpose. And I feel I’m on the mission to make this world a better place and impact as many leaders and organizations as possible globally to help this big shift at the global level.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (29:45): Guys, it’s just where do I sign? So, okay. In that case, last question. And that really is this. So just so again, if there any people out there that aren’t absolutely crystal clear on what it is that they are going to be taking away, that it’s a really actionable insight from one of your brilliant talks. Perhaps you can just give us a few minutes on precisely there.

Vlatka Hlupic (30:10): Well, when I speak, I would start with the big why. Why organizations need to go through this big shift and move from always working to new ways of working? And why business as usual is not an option anymore? I will then take them through the what? What leaders and organizations need to do to shift to this space where they’re more purposeful, more profitable, more engaging, more humanized. And then I will spend a majority of time telling them well, how to do it. And this is unique because a lot of scores talk about the why and the what, but the how has been missing. So the management shift approach is perceived as this big, how for this big shift from well industrial revolution to the fourth industrial revolution, where we need to create more purposeful, high performing, more engaging, happier workplaces that also do better financially and make this world a better place.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (31:14): Well, what a way to end, Vlatka Hlupic. It’s been absolutely fascinating talking with you. Thank you.

Vlatka Hlupic (31:21): Thank you.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (31:25): Thank you for listening to The Speakers Show Podcast. Please leave a rating on iTunes. We’d really appreciate it. And also it’d be great if you could subscribe to the podcast itself. You’ll find it also on Google podcasts, SoundCloud, or your favorite podcast app. Thank you.

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Sean Pillot de Chenecey speaker

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

Foresight strategist, author and podcast host Sean Pillot de Chenecey is an inspirational speaker, who’s also consulted for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Sean has a very deep level of knowledge regarding the genuine issues impacting brands from a cultural, social and business perspective.

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