INSEAD is one of the most prestigious universities for business and management that prepares one of the most successful business leaders in the world. Unique Estates’ Managing Partner, Vesela Ilieva has attended the "Challenge of leadership" program of the elite school, together with top managers of companies from different business areas from all over the world.
“The Challenge of Leadership” aims to improve the leaders’ understanding of how human behaviour affects the functioning of an organisation. By focusing on conscious and unconscious behaviour, as well as rational and irrational action, the attendants will learn to manage irrational and dysfunctional processes in their companies. They will explore their personal leadership style and address ways of dealing with processes that fall outside recommended models. The four modules of the training are held within one year, at INSEAD's famous educational campuses in France and Singapore. The classes are led by the prominent Professor Manfred Kets de Vries. Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftswoche, and The Economist rated Manfred Kets de Vries as one of the world's top fifty leading management thinkers, as well as one of the most influential contributors to human resource management. In 2008, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association (the Leadership Legacy Project), being viewed as one of the world’s six founding professionals in the development of leadership as a field and discipline. He is the author, co-author or editor of thirty-five books and has published over 350 scientific papers as articles or chapters in books. His books and articles were translated into thirty-one languages.
The decision to take this serious step in education and upgrading herself as a person and professional Vesela Ilieva makes with the firm conviction that INSEAD training is a good restart for her and the way she manages her business. A necessary change that generates new ideas and approaches to each case in her professional life. "The last masters I took was eleven years ago in London. I remember this experience as an important moment in my life, which has given me a new direction both professionally and personally, "she says. According to her, every person needs the experiences that take one out of the routine and feed one with knowledge and inspiration. International contacts, the environment and the atmosphere in a prestigious school such as INSEAD bring the participants to a whole new level, which is a challenge for each of them. From 400 candidates applying to join the elite business school program, only 21 have been approved, including Vesela Ilieva. There she has the opportunity to interact and work with people of different nationality, culture, religion and personal values. Each of them has a high level of excellence in his/her field as an owner or manager at a high-ranking position in companies of global importance and scale. The group includes professionals from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia and India.
The program is based on the exchange of experience between the participants and the work on self-awareness. It aims to improve the style of management and approach in communicating of the leaders with their teams, as well as building a good balance between the personal and professional life, which stands behind the truly successful business leaders. "For a company to be truly effective, its leader needs to recognise the factors that subconsciously motivate people in his/her team. Behind the success in this process is actually the right understanding of the emotional moment in making every decision and the approach in communication with each of the people you work with, "says Vesela Ilieva.
To get to know his/her team well, a leader must first know himself/herself well. That is why one of the main problems that most leading managers are working on today is raising their emotional intelligence level, or the way they understand and manage emotions - theirs and those of the people around them.
"Every organisation should be looked at as an iceberg. It is important to see what lies beneath the surface. The behaviour of the successful leader is related to the right reactions in communication with the people he/she leads. That is why in our classes we paid special attention to self-analysis, in order to get to know ourselves well and to have an accurate self assessment. That is a great challenge, " says Vesela Ilieva.
Being part of this programme takes a lot of work, active participation and engagement in all discussions, case studies and projects. Also working in teams, looking for experience and foreign evaluation. The intercultural differences, values and perspectives of each participant are taken into consideration, which gives different perspectives and new approaches to the topics discussed. This kind of communication and team work during the classes is a prerequisite for building strong relationships between the participants in the future, who most of the times keep strong relationships and contacts throughout their lives.
"It takes a hole new level of leadership to be able to rise above the routine of business processes and, despite its success, to look at it from aside, analyse everything, realise the things you see as mistakes, and find the strength to change them. It's very difficult to do that, but it's important in order to go ahead and feel really satisfied from what you do, "says Vesela Ilieva.
Important attention in the program is also given to the proper outline of the values that each leader believes in and how he/she follows them all the way. During the sessions, the participants work in groups to reach results in the case studies they have been given. "This is a process of exploration, in which you see yourself in the eyes of the others. Each participant receives a detailed assessment from all other people in the class, which is one of the challenges each of us face. Till the end of the programme we will have more interesting moments and meetings during the training, which I consider extremely useful and restarting, "Vesela Ilieva said.