In today’s blog post, we break from our usual format to bring you an interview with Sonja Klopčič, a leadership expert based in Slovenia. Sonja’s career has been broad and varied—including engineering, board chair/CEO and crisis manager—but through it all Sonja has found that inclusive leadership is crucial. Leadership is key in so many business, project and change situations.
I first met Sonja at a conference where we were both speaking, and even though she presented in Slovenian (which I don’t speak), I found the images on her slides really intriguing and interesting. We stayed in touch, and I was really pleased when Sonja agreed to be interviewed for this blog. Our virtual chat is published below—I hope that you find this useful!
1. Sonja, Thanks so much for being interviewed! I know from our conversations that you’ve had a wide and varied career. In your book, you mention that you shaped a personal style of inclusive leadership. Can you explain a bit about what this means, and why it’s important?
My core values are ethics, curiosity, openness, cooperation and freedom. I do not like to work in an environment where everything is specified and you have no space for your own creation. I always wanted to work with powerful, creative and responsible people and my aim is to develop leaders around me. I believe that such people also want to have their hands and their minds free, to co-create the common vision on their own way. I wanted to build the environment in which they (and me) would enjoy to create and be a part of the team. So for example, when I was a general manager of an IT company with 80 employees I selected a team of five young potentials (two of them were women, and it was not so easy to find them, but I wanted to create equal opportunities for both gender). I supported them in their development first in good managers and later in authentic leaders, each with her/his own personal leadership style.
I see management and leadership as a path of personal development for both the leader and their co-workers. It is a path that offers learning opportunities to everyone who wishes to develop as a leader – it opens up space for trying out new things and gaining new personal experience while, of course, taking on the primary responsibility for the achievement of business goals.
2. How important is leadership—and inclusive leadership—when progressing change within an organisation?