Do You Have the Potential to be a Leader? By Pepper de Callier

Part one of a four part series

What skills and abilities do you need to master in order to become a leader today in the Czech Republic and, as important, in a global economy?  Why are certain skills and abilities important today?  What are the moral aspects of good leadership?  What advice do experts have for young professionals in the Czech Republic who want to grow professionally?  These questions and more will be answered in this four-part series on leadership as it relates to the Czech Republic and the global economy.  As more and more international companies expand operations into the Czech Republic and into Central Europe, and more and more Czech companies expand their markets beyond Central Europe, the answers to these questions will become critical to your success as a professional.  The competition for key positions of management will become more intense and the best jobs will go to those who not only know the answers to these questions but to those who understand and apply the answers. 

The time to prepare yourself for the opportunities being created is now.  There are many individual ways in which to experience, learn and perfect these skills and abilities, and they will be addressed in separate columns.  The goal of this series, however, is to explain what traits are important and why they are important.  In this series I interviewed four internationally respected leaders, two of which are Czech and all of whom have direct experience in Central and Eastern Europe.  In a wide-ranging and frank discussion, these leaders remove the veil of mystery that covers the topic of leadership for many of us, they offer some timely insights to anyone who is interested in growing as a professional, and they share their wisdom about which traits can make the difference between doors being opened and doors being closed on the progression of your career.   

I’ll introduce these people in a moment, but first let me explain what each column you’ll be reading in the weeks ahead will address specifically and what it is that I want to accomplish with this series.  Next week we’ll take a look at the early years—becoming a leader.  Then, in the next article, we’ll look at leadership development and becoming a mature leader.  In the last article I will explore the moral aspects of leadership.

Now, I’ll introduce you to the four individuals I have interviewed for this series:

The first is Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Born into one of Europe’s most prominent aristocratic families, Minister Schwarzenberg was recently described in the media as someone who stands out as a principled and, quite literally, noble man. He served as Chief of Staff and trusted advisor to former President Havel and is currently a Member of the Board of Directors of President Havel’s foundation, Forum 2000, and a successful businessman.  He is recognized as one of the most respected and trusted people in Czech politics, and he offers us some very insightful observations on responsible leadership.

Next is Tomas Sabatka. Mr. Sabatka’s leadership abilities along with his innovative and effective style have made this Prague native a well known and respected business leader in Central and Eastern Europe and South Africa.  As of 1 January, 2007, he assumed the position of President of Myllykoski for Central Europe.  Myllykoski is one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers and has just committed to a €450 million investment in the Czech Republic.  Immediately prior to this he was CEO of RPG Industries after serving 12 years as CEO of the Czech Republic’s largest pulp and paper company, Sepap.  Mr. Sabatka is known for his common sense, ethical, direct, and down-to-earth approach to business and to people. 

Our third interviewee is Ronald Gerevas.  Ron Gerevas has a rare mixture of skills regarding the topic of leadership.  He has been in the executive search business working at the highest levels for more than two decades, so he knows how to spot leaders and evaluate them.  He is also the former CEO of one of the most respected international executive search firms in the world, Heidrick & Struggles, and led its growth internationally, so he knows how to be a leader in a global environment as well. 

And, rounding out our list of interviewees is G. Dale Meyer, Ph.D.  Dr. Meyer is Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Among many awards received in his career, he was designated a President’s Teaching Scholar, the University of Colorado’s highest teaching award.  He has served as a Board Member and President of the International Council of Small Business and has been widely published in academic journals on entrepreneurship and leadership. In addition, Dr. Meyer has extensive experience in the Czech Republic.

Next week’s column: Becoming a Leader.

Good luck on your way up!

About the Author: Pepper de Callier is one of the most respected senior executive coaches and authorities on leadership in Europe. Learn more about him at

Follow Pepper on YouTube: A new inspirational video message is posted every Monday - Common Sense Wisdom: Thoughts to Live By. 

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