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Empowering and Investing in Human Capital

by Lena Tarakjan

Human beings are powerful beyond any imagination; most probably this is what scares them the most. Therefore, they keep it unfolded, dormant spending their life making miserable choices pretending it is easier to manage falling into mediocrity, fear and cowardness; the motives behind idolizing certain unworthy leaders who in their turn focus only on their own interest ignoring completely what impact they tend to have on others. Such behavior is even more flagrant during turbulent times since panic, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty take naturally over calmness, serenity, openness, and generosity.

Things can only get better if individuals start reflecting, analyzing, and realizing that they are the master of everything that happens in their personal and professional life.

Effective leaders can translate that human power into obtaining knowledge and move forward, and move others, in powerful ways keeping in mind that the power of being human lies in the density of the heart, the depth of reflection and the intensity of knowledge. This much I have learned during my leadership years which made me live powerful and extraordinary human moments.

Few years ago, I was in charge of re-structuring “Sales and Client Servicing Department” a team of 20 people from different nationalities. Their knowledge about the business was remarkable yet an essential part was missing; the soul and the spirit of the team. Sharing, communicating, supporting, loving, feeling each other’s presence – simply living “human moments”; was a missing culture in the organization.

It took me one good year to start making a difference. We shared human moments from the beginning as I gave them enough time to discover me as a human first then as their leader. I gave them the chance to touch my soul and to believe in my credibility, integrity, generosity of feelings and time. Somebody who cares about everything that concerns them as individuals not as things. I helped each person to feel that he/she matters equally and that their presence makes the whole difference no matter their background, nationality and experience. Daily efforts were invested to create harmony among team members and instill trust, respect, care, love, and team-work. We celebrated each other’s success and shared important moments. We laughed daily even during difficult times which made difficulties livable and manageable. Not a piece of cake I admit but it was all worth the efforts when the positive impact on all of them was so obvious.

We had 15 minutes daily meetings sharing anything and everything over coffee, exchanging very random subjects; not necessarily about work. Just free moments to genuinely say what crosses our mind without limitations, just the freedom to put on the table our ideas and feelings towards each other, and most important towards me. I actively listened to each person’s opinion and to the things they would like me to change or improve. I called these meetings “soul-connecting meetings”. It sounds very spiritual, yet the impact after a year was outstanding business-wise. Each of them started expressing their ideas and thoughts and sharing them with their colleagues to achieve better results. In fact, it became a free and creative department which impacted positively on the whole company and mainly on the clients. Working with such team-spirit made the solutions faster and more accurate because each member had the freedom to contribute and offer appropriate solutions instead of just following instructions.

Rewards and promotions were part of showing appreciation to each individual. Nevertheless, they were happy only with a genuine smile of satisfaction or even a warm hug to dream together and assure each other that the best is yet to come. This is called ‘spiritual intelligence’. It is about connecting spiritually and maintaining inner and outer peace even under great stress. It is about being aligned with the ebb and flow of life.

My leadership journey started in 1989 when I decided at the age of 19 to take charge of my life: wearing a backpack on my shoulders and hope in my eyes I left my suffering country Lebanon behind me.

What followed was a long journey of self-discovery which helped me form the understanding that leadership is not only about business decisions, it is about what we leave behind us - our reputation and the impact we have on others - when we decide to move on.

Working in different fields such as the stock exchange, luxury corporate gifts, events and entertainment, in various different countries mainly in the Middle East and in different levels of management taught me flexibility, quick adaptation and the ability to take sensible business decisions. All the while leadership remained my passion and main interest.

What I have shared above is a reflection of how I perceive leadership and how I intend to develop it further in this direction.

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