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Whirling Chief


Vendula Pavlikova

Vendula is the founder of Authentic Achievers. She brings together her 12 years’ professional experience in the corporate world across a wide range of industries and her passion for Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology. She works with leaders and teams around the world helping them use emotional intelligence to get better results. Her mission is to guide people to live a fulfilling life and to teach them how to take care of their emotional well-being. She lives with her family in the beautiful cross-border region in Switzerland.

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 167

Why is “Purpose’’ SO Important?

Last week, I got a call from an old friend of mine. We studied together at the University, but I hadn’t heard from him since then. He told me that he has been working in the financial sector for over 10 years now, then shared with me many of the significant professional achievements and awesome position titles he had achieved. Two weeks ago, he and his team were recognized as one of the top 5 teams in the global organization for their business results. He admitted that, after the initial euphoria had worn off, he found himself feeling strangely disappointed. He expected to be happier but he was not. He told me that, despite the great position, buying the house of his dreams and being successful, in the eyes of his friends and inside of himself he felt empty.

Maybe you also know someone in your surroundings with a similar story. And I’m thinking about how many people live with an overwhelming sense of emptiness, not because they don’t have enough in their lives, but because they lack a sense of purpose.

Why is knowing ourselves so important?

As Peter Drucker said “You cannot manage other people unless you can manage yourself first.’’

Having purpose is a process of shaping ourselves from the inside out and being a good leader starts with having a high level of self-awareness. When you understand yourself, you are better able to understand and empathize with the people you lead.

Even though it can be quite challenging with our daily busy agenda to make time for ourselves, doing so is a necessity. As only in the calm and silence can we have a conversation with what is hidden within us and so ask ourselves self-exploration questions like, for example:

  • Is the life I’m living really the life I want to be living?
  • What are the moments in which I experience the greatest aliveness?
  • What do I truly value and deeply care about?
  • What is the lasting impact I would like to leave in my career and in my life?

Here are 5 reasons why knowing our purpose makes us better leaders:

  • When we pursue our life with purpose, it makes us feel more energized, connected to our personal why, and to our unique talents, which we use to contribute to the community and to the world.
  • It gives us the power to strive for something bigger than ourselves.
  • It makes us more resilient, calls us to move outside of our comfort zone and to take risks beyond our fears.
  • It gives us the permission to say ‘No’ to distractions and to focus on what’s right for us, not for anyone else.
  • When a leader shares her/his mission with a passion for something big that inspires others, it’s contagious. It inspires others to go the extra mile. It builds a real engagement. Providing inspiration as a leader is not an option, it’s a topmost priority.

Being clear about our purpose is the key ingredient of an authentic self that helps us to accept ourselves and to be confident in who we are!

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  • 14 February 2018
Whirling Chief

Organizational Development

Nº 146

What Impact Does Emotional Intelligence Have on the Organization?


The first scientific paper on Emotional Intelligence was published in 1990. While Cognitive Intelligence (IQ) has been with us for over 100 years, dozens of studies presented the importance of emotional and social intelligence in high-performing organizations.

By paying more attention to the emotional aspects of the workplace, organizations can make the work experience more meaningful.

Leaders of successful organizations recognize their employees are their key assets and a person’s feelings about the work do affect the way they carry out their job. People who are, for example, supervised by a manager who does not care about them, is self-centered, provides them with inadequate feedback and puts them under constant pressure, will lead to demoralized team members. And overworked, demoralized and stressed employees can become costly in the long-term in terms of poor productivity, high sickness rate and losing good talents.

Emotions play a crucial role in the workplace and managers should remember their mood is contagious.

‟Employees are not emotional islands. Rather, they continuously spread their own moods and receive and are influenced by others’ moods. When they work in groups, they literally can catch each others’ emotions like viruses, a phenomenon known as emotional contagion.’’ – Wharton@Work, University of Pennsylvania.

Recent research in brain science proves that for humans, emotions are contagious because of ‘mirror neurons‘. Mirror neurons are responsible for us ‘’catching’’ the mood of other people without realizing it. It is obvious a boss yelling at work will start a chain reaction of irritation as berated employees carry the same attitude with others; however, did you know a boss feeling irritated at home (and not talking about it at work) still carries stress into workplace? When measured, studies find employees still ‘pick up’ on the stress. Therefore, it’s important that managers understand the power of how their mood spreads and ‘infects’ others.

The good news is that emotional contagion can work both ways. Fear can spread, as can enthusiasm or confidence. According to Cynthia Fisher’s research findings, organizations should try to keep the mood positive consistently throughout the day. When leaders learn to consciously manage their own emotions and their emotional triggers on others, they can be a real ‘force for good’ in the workplace.

Organizations should encourage their employees to strengthen their emotional intelligence skills (especially those on the managerial level). As managers with high emotional quotient (EQ) recognize and understand their emotions and their impact on others, they know what motivates their people, nurtures optimism, promotes honesty and provides support in meeting objectives. Equipping the managers with emotional intelligence ensures they have the complete skill set and energy to navigate today’s challenging business climate confidently. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider investing in developing Emotional Intelligence & EQ agility for your management teams.

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  • 15 November 2017
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 126

Self-reflection: Uncover the True Leader within You


Whether you’re a leader or entrepreneur, we’re all caught up with overloaded email boxes, deadlines to meet, presentations to be done, etc. We are forever busy, but instead of constant acceleration, leadership demands a period when we take a moment to stop and reflect.

Self-reflection is not about spending hours putting together a gigantic plan, but simply taking 15 minutes a day for yourself that can make a significant impact on your life balance and performance. Self-reflection is also a basis for understanding others. How could a leader read other people without having an awareness of her/himself?

Self-reflection is about being self-aware of ourselves: what we stand for, knowing our strengths, weaknesses, and values, and what kind of example we want to set for others.

Here are some of the self-reflection questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is really important to me?
  • If I lived today over again, what could I do differently?
  • What gives me energy?
  • What is my current emotional mood and what causes it?
  • How are my relationships going?
  • Am I aligned in my work and in my life with my values?
  • Do I feel good physically?

The reflection must be honest and frank.

If we know ourselves, we tend to act more consistently, and consistency in behavior is a key to building trust and being a role model. Self-reflection is also a building block of our emotional intelligence. It raises our confidence, provides us with healthy self-regard, clarity, and boosts integrity. I also encourage you to regularly ask your trusted friends or family members to provide honest feedback so you can better identify potential blind spots.

It’s one thing to read about self-reflection, but it’s another thing to practice it regularly. As my mentor says: “Common sense is not a common practice.’’ So, I challenge you to schedule a 15-minute self-reflection period today and integrate it into your daily agenda.

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  • 28 June 2017
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 97

An Interview on Emotional Intelligence


Today, we are sharing with you an interview recently conducted with a dear colleague and one of our contributors, Vendula Pavlikova, founder of Authentic Achievers.

Vendula specializes in positive psychology and we talked with her about a significant topic, that’s not highlighted enough in the business world – emotional intelligence. Emotional agility is often seen as a ‘soft’ skill in business and yet it drives so much of the individual and collective behaviors in the workplace. An organization’s productivity, health and joy depends on it critically. We do hope you enjoy and share with us your own observations and experiences in return. 🙂

Whirling Chief: There is so much chatter about EI lately. Can you start by telling us what EQ is and how it differs from IQ?

Vendula Pavlikova: IQ and EQ are distinct qualities we all possess. Emotional Intelligence is our ability to recognize and understand our emotions and those around us, and to use this awareness to manage our behavior and relationships.

Cognitive intelligence (IQ) measures our general intelligence purely in terms of logical ability (e.g., maths, reasoning, memory).

While our cognitive intelligence peaks around the age of 17 years old and remains stable over adulthood, our emotional intelligence is a flexible skill that can be developed.

WC: How – if at all – is EQ related to Positive Psychology?

Vendula: One of our emotional intelligence skills is optimism, and the emotional intelligence assessment contains an independent indicator – happiness (our ability to feel satisfied with life and to enjoy ourselves and others). I like to integrate positive psychology tools and exercises in my coaching practice. For example, former Google engineer Chade-Meng Tan also combined emotional intelligence and mindfulness in his training for Google employees.

WC: You work with a number of leaders on developing their skills and capacity. How do you see EQ play a role in leadership development?

Vendula: Thinking and acting logically is still an asset, but being a great leader requires the ability to work with people, be self-aware, manage emotions, and communicate effectively.  Clients are often pleasantly surprised at how emotional intelligence feeds many leadership activities, even those thought to be strictly “logical,” from problem solving to reasoning and decision making. Emotional intelligence is one of the key building blocks of modern leadership.

WC: EQ was conceived in the 1990s and is now being taught in many major management schools. How has it not made its way into mainstream management practices?

Vendula: With over 15 years in my corporate career in different industries, I’ve observed “soft’’ skills and happiness are often overlooked. Usually, when we think of leadership, we think of performance, productivity, and profits. But these are the results of great leadership, not the cause of it. I believe sustained success comes via leaders who are in touch with their personal “why’’ and are able to inspire others and create an emotional connection with their people; leaders who can provide a clear vision and value their people and help them to grow.

Slowly, the old form of command and control leadership is changing, and companies like Google and other like-minded companies welcome new approaches. They have a vision that goes beyond “making a lot of money’’ to bring meaning and purpose to the whole business and invest in emotional intelligence training and coaching to develop people’s soft skills and unlock their human potential.

WC: Sometimes, when we consult with CEOs and big name clients, the topics of EQ or Positive Psychology feel ‘soft’ to them. What kind of impact does having a focus (or non-focus) have on an organization regarding these topics?

Vendula: Emotional Intelligence is often underestimated as “something’’ a bit intangible. But decades of research point to EQ as a critical factor for modern leadership. We know from neuroscience that emotions play a critical role in influencing and guiding our thinking and behavior. And intelligent use of emotions is a cornerstone of peak performance. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “In the long run EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others very little can be accomplished.’’

Developing Emotional Intelligence is important at all levels, but particularly in higher levels of power, where the most damage can be done if EQ is missing.

WC: At Whirling Chief, we care to help organizations bridge the gap between human needs and human practices. How do you see EQ playing a role in the future of work and people practices?

Vendula: EQ will play a key role in the future of work. In this digital age, where everything that can be automated has been or will be automated, where everyone is constantly connected, where the burnout rate and depression dramatically increase, employees often feel disengaged. I truly believe what will distinguish the successful leaders in coming years is their capacity to understand what makes their people engaged, build an emotional connection with them, invest in developing their strengths, and be a positive example.

WC: Let’s talk about leadership. Traditionally, we gave ‘leadership’ seats to professionals on top of the hierarchy or C-suite. With the democratization of work, leadership is becoming more available to anyone. How does that resonate for a positive psychologist like you?

Vendula: We are living in a period when we often hear a message that everyone can do anything. This digital age, with the power of online social media, has allowed many people to become “leaders.’’ More than ever, it offers more possibilities to any of us, but there are a lot of smart leaders with excellent industry knowledge, but who have never taken time to look within themselves to discover who they truly are. I consider self-awareness as the foundation and key element of leadership, because self-awareness means having a realistic assessment of our abilities, knowing our “why,” and being aware of our emotions. Self-awareness is one of the five key emotional intelligence scales. I hope the school system will integrate emotional intelligence skills (especially self-awareness, emotional mastery, and stress management) in the school program to prepare the future leadership generation.

WC: Why is it so important for working professionals to be self-aware and authentic?

Vendula: The need for self-awareness has never been greater. People with high self-awareness are clear in understanding what they do well, what is their “why,” their values, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, and they are in control of their emotions. And it’s only through self-awareness we can discover and reach our full potential and true authenticity.

WC: You are developing an EQ curriculum for professional development. Can you tell us a little bit about this work and when it may be available?

Vendula: I’m developing a new leadership training (available this June), where I will share a strategy on how to achieve better mental and emotional balance, with practical emotional intelligence exercises focused on how to take better care of emotional health. CEOs and leaders often share with me similar stories: Their positions demand handling deadlines and stress, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and tired with increased irritability. Despite having a great technical knowledge and education, they overlook a vital point – taking care of their emotional health and renewable of energy. The objective of my new program will be to share practical EQ strategies, preventing them from finding themselves suffering from exhaustion or burn out. 

WC:  Are there any key recommendations, tips for professionals who want to develop their emotional intelligence?

Vendula: I recommend anyone who wishes to develop their emotional intelligence to start by taking an EQ assessment. The assessment provokes self-reflection about the general level of EQ and offers a possibility to evaluate where the person stands. I recommend the three well-researched and validated tools: EQ-i2.0, EQ360, and MSCEIT (Mayer-Salovey-Caruso EI test).

If a person is struggling with a specific skill (e.g., control of emotions in stressful situations), then I would highly recommend a 1-on-1 coaching, where a coach and a client work together on improving an EQ skill.

And as the last tip, I encourage anyone to take a moment and cultivate self-awareness and ask for feedback, as it’s only through self-awareness that we can discover our true authenticity.

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  • 22 March 2017
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 90

5 Reasons Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence


For decades, importance was put on our knowledge and technical skills. Some of my clients working in leadership positions shared with me that they have been taught to ignore their emotions and the emotions of their coworkers.

However, Daniel Goleman concluded in his research that a person’s personal and interpersonal skills carried much more weight than a person’s IQ. He concluded that IQ only counts for between 4 and 10% of factors that determine career success.

New technologies taken over most of our analytical thinking, however, it is inconceivable that they can replace our human capabilities like feeling, relationship building or empathy to any major degree. As Daniel Pink mentions in his book, The Whole New Mind, while left brain activities still matter, they are not enough. The right brain grabbed the power. What will distinguish leaders in the coming years are their ability to understand what makes their coworkers tick, and how meaning is more important than accumulation.

Emotional Intelligence Coaching helps strengthen our key soft and people skills. It helps develop better self-awareness, learn more about how our emotions influence our thinking and decision making, and how to master them to achieve a better outcome for ourselves and others.

Here are the major 5 Emotional Intelligence skills to master to achieve better success, communicate better and build better relationships:

1) Self-awareness

Being clear about who we truly are, what are our strengths, and our values. Understand our own emotions and their effect on others. Many leaders have excellent industry expertise and technical knowledge, but not enough intrinsic skills.

2) Self-regulation

The ability to control our emotions, e.g. thinking before reacting quickly, adapting to change, taking responsibility for our emotional reactions. We know from neuroscience studies that emotions play a critical role in influencing and guiding our thinking and behavior. If we have trouble identifying our emotions, especially in stressful situations, we will have more trouble in staying focused, and so we will experience more anxiety and overreact.

3) Empathy

It is essential to master how to put yourself in another person’s shoes and try to see the world from other person’s viewpoint. Try to understand the pressures, responsibilities, and demands placed upon the other person, perceive their emotions, as well as take an interest in their concerns.

4) Social skills

Know how to manage relationships and influence the emotions of others productively e.g.. effective listening, the ability to guide and inspire others, show your recognition and use more personal forms of communication, rather than hiding yourself being the digital connection. People need human contact, being listened and recognized.

5) Be Present

I have many times saw coworkers coming to share their important information with their coworker and the other person is not even looking at him/her and checking the email box and not listening what the other person says.

When you are in the presence of another person, put your mobile phone or tablet away and give the person your full attention. Listen carefully, establish a direct eye contact and don’t interrupt. It seems so easy, but in this digital, fast age, it has become a real challenge.

Emotional Intelligence is not static and can be developed to help you become a better leader. So, do not hesitate to boost your EQ (Emotional Quotient) by taking an emotional intelligence assessment and strengthening your emotional intelligence skills to become a world-class leader.

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  • 22 February 2017
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 83

Let’s bring more positive and human leadership to the workplace!


From my previous corporate experience in the automotive industry, I still remember the regular annual meetings, where my superior entered the meeting room and handed me the annual performance review. It contained all sorts of statistics on my sales performance, customer satisfaction charts, number of sickness days, etc. After the meeting, I was just asked to reflect and write down 3 points for possible personal improvements. That’s it. One year of my corporate life wrapped up in several pages of a statistical report. However, what about me? Me, as a human being? With all my strengths, emotions and values?

What if the quality of modern leadership would be valuing people over profits and promoting positive human leadership? Human-centered and emotionally positive organizations, where profits will be the by-product of happy and engaged people.

Here are 5 tips on how to promote positive leadership in the workplace:

1. Target strengths

Rather than spending time and money on trying to fix and improve people’s weak points, we often overlook the things that co-workers naturally do well and enjoy. Identify and develop your people’s strengths. By allowing them to spend time on using their strengths, they will be more engaged in their work, they will be more productive on a daily basis, they will deliver better customer service, they will have more positive interactions with co-workers, and they will be happier too.

Let your people do what they’re great at!

2. Show your appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated for who they are and what they do. Appreciation is a key for opening the door to a great relationship! However, instead of waiting for the annual meeting or nominating an employee of the month, compliment your people straight-away. People feel more valued and motivated when given a real-time, sincere compliment. Say ‘Thank You’ to them more often! These two words cost nothing, but make a big difference!

3. Promote a positive emotional climate

Our mood is contagious, and a leader aware of his or her emotional impact can influence the mood within their team and organization. By promoting a positive emotional climate, people will be more energetic, open to cooperate, more engaged, cheerful and will feel less stressed and anxious. And despite challenging situations, they will stay resilient and support each other.

4. Let your people flourish!

The best companies invest in training and developing their people that can grow and flourish. It’s not only about providing a free swimming pool membership, but also about empowering and unlocking their human potential.

5. Get your people involved in the meaning

Many companies impose their vision rather than ask employees what resonates with them. For people, it is important to find a purpose and live a meaningful life. They want to feel valued and engaged in purposeful work that brings value to the society. The key to ensuring employee engagement is to involve them in the process from the very beginning when implementing the company purpose and values.

Simon Sinek has a simple and powerful model for discovering an inspiring purpose. Start by asking why: What cause, belief or purpose inspires you to do what you do?

Remember, the company’s purpose and values must speak to hearts of your people and help them feel proud of what they do!

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  • 30 January 2017
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 65

The Power of Self-awareness


In your professional environment, have you ever met a leader or a colleague who is the opposite of self-aware?

Mr. Unaware thinks he knows everything, never listens to others and has other problems. However, his biggest problem? He doesn’t know!

Self-awareness is the foundation for being a successful and authentic leader. It is a key capability for leaders to develop. Being true to yourself is the most important thing as the hardest person you will ever have to lead is yourself!

Self-awareness is also a “keystone” of our Emotional Intelligence.

Here are five ways how you can cultivate and develop it:

1) Live with purpose

Life is about living, not surviving! So ask yourself, what really matters to you? What are you ready to strive for?

Live fully every single day as if it were the last one. Enjoy the little moments of joy and dedicate your time for making progress with the things that matter to you, rather than watching TV or browsing the Internet for hours with no purpose.

2) Master your emotions

Highly self-aware Individuals can understand and regulate their emotions. They know their emotional triggers and accept responsibility for their reactions. Don’t judge or fear your emotions. Learn to recognize them and do not hesitate to expand your emotional vocabulary.

3) Take time for self-reflection

It is crucial to dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes every day for self-refection. Spend this time reflecting on your life, your work day, where you focus your thoughts, your behavior and your emotions.

4) Keep a journal

Track your progress, feelings, moments you were proud of, but also your challenges.

Ask yourself:

  • What did I do well today?
  • What am I doing that is slowing me down?
  • What can I do to change?

5) Ask for honest feedback, regularly

We all have blind spots in our thinking, patterns and behaviors. So, asking for regular feedback can help us to enlarge the view we have of ourselves. Regularly ask for honest feedback from trusted people, whom you know well and respect.

Becoming self-aware won’t happen in a day. It takes years of self-reflection, self-exploration and difficult conversations. However, if you integrate the steps listed above until they become habits in your daily life, they will help you to discover your authentic self and become a master of your life.

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  • 9 November 2016
Whirling Chief

Leadership & Team Development

Nº 51

10 Signs of People Who Lack Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Intelligence is our ability to manage and understand our emotions and those around us. It is a key predictor of our success in life and profession. Even though people can be high performers with excellent technical skills, if they can’t control their emotions in stressful situations or have difficulty getting along with colleagues, their success will be quickly over.

Emotions are critical to our effective thinking and play an important part in our communication and relationship skills.

Here are 10 signs of people who lack emotional intelligence:

  1. They are unable to control their emotions. They have difficulties regulating and controlling their emotions. They can easily experience an emotional hijacking – a state when an individual’s cognitions are overpowered by his/her emotions.
  2. They declare that they don’t care if people like them or not.
  3. They have difficulties identifying how they are feeling and why. They often downplay the importance of emotions, saying that what really matters are knowledge and logic.
  4. They interrupt others with their own opinions and talk over them.
  5. They lack empathy and compassion. They struggle to express an appropriate emotional concern for others.
  6. They have difficulties forming relationships, both professional and romantic. They don’t tell you where you really stand with them.
  7. They are insensitive to feelings when watching movies. Love stories, thrillers or horrors films have little emotional resonance with them.
  8. They do not take feedback well, get defensive, and shut down when comments are made. They find it hard to admit mistakes.
  9. They are rigid and inflexible. They need to have structure and rules to feel secure. They are resistant to anything that forces them to make changes, from relocating their work desk or dealing with new work procedures.
  10. They tend to find faults in every situation and tend to be negative.

Emotional Intelligence is a skill that can be developed by means of training, coaching, and experience. If you recognize yourself in any of the signs listed above, simply take the steps necessary to grow in that area. And don’t be afraid to ask for guidance and feedback along the way.

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  • 5 October 2016