Natalia Blagoeva is a trusted adviser in Change Management and Culture and Leadership Fitness Transformation coach. She is also a Keynote Speaker on Organisational Change, Culture, Leadership and the Future of Work. Natalia lives in Zurich. Yet, she continues to work with leaders and organisations in Bulgaria with her company Eudaimonia Solutions.
Natalia, you use the ancient Greek word "eudaimonia" in the name of your company. Eudaimonia means happiness. Can there be happiness in business and how does it look like?
Eudaimonia refers to "happiness" and "wellbeing" but is best translated as "human flourishing and prosperity." That relates to us as individuals.
"Human flourishing and prosperity" represent also the essence of a great business.
Organisations which sustain prosperity balance focus on performance with focus on individual and organisational wellbeing. Such balance is achieved with the right culture and leadership. You can recognise such businesses by that special sparkle in the eyes of people.
In today's business environment, organisations often need to change their business strategy. What are the most common mistakes they make at that point?
A change of strategy can involve a leadership transition or a merger or acquisition. It can be about scaling-up, downsizing or a digital transformation. It could also be a conscious decision to drive the next stage of evolution of the organisation or ensure competitiveness as the "future of work" unfolds.
From my practice as an adviser, I see that leaders know how crucial culture and leadership are for their business. Yet, many don't realise that any change of business strategy requires a new and specific level of fitness of their culture and leadership.
They expect that the way they work together can remain the same as it was when they were much smaller in size or as it was under previous leadership. They assume that if people know how important a merger is, they will support the changes. Another common assumption is that what made them successful in the past will keep them successful tomorrow. Or worse, what has made another organisation successful, would make them successful as well.
Each organisation and strategy require a specific level of culture and leadership fitness. Every time an organisation goes through a change of business strategy, they have a choice – invest in preventive care or deal with illness and dysfunctions later.
Keynote Speaker at the Conference of the Bulgarian Association for People Management on new ways of working and on how to turn organisational conflict into an organisational capital
How can organisations know that they need to adjust their fitness level? What are the symptoms of such dysfunctions?
Organisations are living systems and a change at one place is felt all across. That's something we need to prepare for. If we don’t invest in that, we can expect dysfunctions which would cost us considerably more time, energy and resources. A typical symptom is that a certain topic always triggers strong emotions, or some groups are always in conflict. For example, groups with seemingly opposite aspects (e.g. sales and production, old and new, head office and field offices, etc.) have difficulties working together and talk of "us" and "them." Failing to address such issues leads to turf wars and silos. Another symptom is that people are stressed out or lack energy and inspiration.
All organisations see the symptoms and try to treat them. Let's say there are conflicts between teams. A common solution is to send them to a communications training or a team building or maybe fire someone. Shortly afterwards however the problem continues. That's because there are deeper underlying reasons. Instead of looking into them, here is what we do. Imagine driving your car and seeing a flashing amber light on the dashboard. You stop the car and remove the bulb to stop the flashing. Then you continue your journey. Sounds funny but that's what we often do. Symptoms are a warning; they are not the problem.
How can you help such organisations?
I currently offer two new programs to organisations in times of change: Leadership Fitness Workout© and Culture Fitness Workout©. By going through these programs, leaders, change agents and culture ambassadors learn how to stay fit preventively and how to use symptoms to sort out dysfunctions. These programs draw from my own experience and incorporate world-leading methodologies. They also introduce my unique method Opposites@Work©.
What makes you and your approach different?
I've been fortunate to live through interesting times. In 25 years, I lived in four countries and experienced three major economic transitions. In parallel I've been through all types of organisational stages: start-up, scaleup and exit, and corporate. I’ve also been fortunate to work with thought leaders of our time. Yet, most mind-opening has been my own personal transformation alongside my professional journey from a team member to an executive leader, founder and co-founder, and a trusted adviser. Altogether, that inspires the unique and fresh perspectives I bring to leaders. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen over and over that breakthrough thinking and fresh perspectives always come from exposure to people who are outside our current circles.
Keynote Speaker at the World Values Day event of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum and the Bulgarian Association of Management Consulting Organisations
Second, I don't talk about culture and leadership in general and I don't idealise "canned" solutions or what's in fashion. I've seen that what might work for one organisation or leader, might be completely inadequate for another. I have developed programs which are fun and efficient to implement. Yet, they give leaders a profoundly different perspective to their current organisational reality. Instead of stressing about problems and conflict, they get inspired and equipped to treat dysfunctions but also preventively keep working out on keeping the culture and leadership fit.
What are the benefits of working with you?
First, the quality of my work is guaranteed by the professional standards I follow in relation to my internationally recognised professional accreditations. I am a Certified Management Consultant (CMC©), Certified Consultant in Leadership and Cultural Transformation (CTT©) and a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP©).
As another benefit, many leading consultancies use their most experienced partners to sell the work and their least experienced associates to do it. My model is different. Leadership can count on me remaining fully engaged. If the project needs scaling, I involve other renowned and experienced partners drawing from my international network.
Probably most important, whatever an organisation's specific needs are, they need to constantly work on their culture and leadership fitness. My programs focus on teaching leadership teams, change agents and culture ambassadors how to do that on their own without constantly relying on external help. I also help them learn to identify the 20% of activities that will lead to 80% of the results.
Whether organisations want to improve performance, energise their team and thrive, or sustain competitiveness as the future of work unfolds, they can contact me for a free consultation on whether their current fitness level is adequate to pull off their strategy.