Character, failures, and ability to let go: 6 leadership lessons by Sophia Opatska

At the meeting “Women’s Leadership: Global Challenges, Local Context”, Sophia Opatska, Founding Dean of Lviv Business School of UCU (LvBS), Vice Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University, shared the experience of working with large and small organizations, launching projects from scratch, joining teams with a long history and lessons learned from each leader. The event was arranged by LvBS and UCU Center for Leadership.

Read below about the leadership lessons by Sophia Opatska in more detail:

Lesson 1. We are not trained to be a СЕО. You often have some ideas but they are not perceived. And why are they not perceived? Since you have no time to explain them. Therefore, it is very important to have a team you can trust. It’s always on the verge: risking or not? What will this risk result in? If you want to be the first person or start a project, you can’t do without strong character, because you will have to make tough and unpopular decisions.

Lesson 2. Failure is ok. You have to accept you can make mistakes, it is impossible to anticipate everything. My decisions often were on the verge of intuition. If I tried to anticipate everything, they would turn out to be incorrect then. Sometimes decisions that look illogical are very important. It is not deadly to be mistaken. We are taught at school there are right and wrong answers, we get a good mark for one, and not a good one for the other. In fact, there is no right and wrong answer. We are expected to be good, to be an example, and you must be prepared to make a mistake in business. People in the United States are used to the fact that you fall – get up – go ahead, for eight times, and you become successful for the ninth time, since it is a society that allows a person to fall and not be convicted. I want more and more people to try doing something and not thinking a mistake being made is made for life.

Lesson 3. Leadership belongs to those who are willing to assume it. Both mistakes and decisions belong to those who go out and do.

Lesson 4. True integrity is to do the right things, even when nobody knows whether we do them or not. Do we do the things we have to, even if we dislike them, but we understand that it’s right that it meets our values and values of the organization? Will we do the same if we are not being overwatched? Researchers from Ivey Business School have come to the conclusion there are three components that influence the formation of a leader: competencies, commitment and character. Character is shaped of the virtues that form it. For example, drive that sets us in motion, ability to cooperate, balance, accountability and other virtues that influence our critical judgment.

Lesson 5. The leader’s virtues are like vitamins: it’s good to take vitamins but they are disastrous if redundant. Therefore, when we talk about virtues, we must remember our strengths can become our bad sides. It is sometimes necessary not only to develop something but also to diminish the influence of some features, if they are excessive.

Lesson 6. Let it go. This sometimes applies to projects and sometimes to people. Maybe it’s occasionally worth taking different trains and go, perhaps even in one direction, but in parallel paths. Equally with problems: we have to learn letting them go. Our strong virtues can start pressurizing us and not letting others breathe.

Let us remind that Lviv Business School of UCU (LvBS) and UCU Center for Leadership launched a joint program “Women’s Leadership and Change Management” the participants of which work on development of the leader’s character and competencies for two modules.