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Leadership Games: 7 Leaders, 7 Interviews About Difficult Situations, 7 Real-time Challenges

Difficult professional and personal situations face each of us. What we take from them is what matters. Why authentic leaders don’t suffer defeat but thrive?

The authentic leader is not a sci-fi novel hero or an extinct species. Authentic leaders are real. You can meet seven of them up close thanks to our new project Leadership Games. Leadership Games, is a unique series of seven video interviews intended as a contribution to the discussion of authentic leadership in the Czech Republic. In this series, seven Czech leaders of different professions and life paths all share a specific topic: experience of challenging situations. Among others you can see CEO of Sodexo Benefity Martina Brezinova talk about her fight with the burn-out syndrome, Marian Jelínek, former coach of Jaromir Jágr shares how he motivates others to achieve best results or witness the inspiring way in which CEO of Mary Kay Barbora Chuecos derives happiness from one of the most difficult moments in her life. They are all open about sharing what made these challenges some of the most useful moments for deciding about their future direction in life.

The entire concept was created in collaboration with creative producer YEMI A.D. and you can watch the entire series on

At the core of Leadership Games are difficult situations in our professional as well as personal lives. But why do I think they are so important and what distinguishes the approach to these situations that leaders take from the rest?



Challenging situations practically result in only one of two possible outcomes: success of failure. From the authentic leadership perspective, however, things are not that black-and-white. The ability to find success in failure is what differentiates authentic leaders from the rest.

And many a business success can be traced back to failure. For example, Henry Ford went bankrupt five times before introducing his successful Ford T. The often quoted Elon Musk was practically broke in 2008 after losing USD 180 million. And did you know that one of our participants Michala Chaloupková, a member of the board of ČEZ, failed with her application for the job of judge?

We will not make failure a taboo in Leadership Games. On the contrary: authentic leaders approach tough situations as growth opportunities. Even if they end up in failure. The authentic leader can learn from failure and be ready when a similar challenge crops up next time.


To be able to learn from partial mistakes, we need a vision of the desirable future. When all else fails (we go bust, friends leave us), the awareness of our vision and mission is what keeps us afloat and energizes us to stand up and act (it gives us internal motivation).

Finding ourselves rid of everything valuable to us is similar to the situation in which monks live voluntarily. It is called monk moment. When you have nothing to lose, you have infinite potential. Your thinking turns inside out: instead of pondering what you have lost, you focus on all the things you want to obtain.


The combination of an ambitious vision and partial failure is an ideal hotbed for innovation. As Elon Musk has it, if you don’t fail, you are not being innovative enough. The opposite to the innovative hotbed is, surprisingly to some, a plan. When you know what steps will take you to your destination, you will get there easily. But nothing will push you to be innovative.

Stick to your vision and don’t be afraid to take an uncharted path to get closer to it. You may encounter a wild river or a deep ravine. You may return to your starting point and try another route. Or throw a rope over it but find it too short. But then again, maybe you will build a hovercraft. You’d hardly experience all that – and come up with innovative solutions – on a well-trodden path.


No authentic leader lack courage. This does not mean authentic leaders don’t know fear. They are afraid too. But they won’t allow fear to cripple them. They work towards their vision. At times, this perseverance does place them in challenging situations. But then again, their courage will carry them over the challenge and possibly see them turn the challenge into an opportunity.

The seven authentic leaders we invited to Leadership Games showed courage too. They were not afraid to speak of their tough situations and failure. And they were brave when we gave them a playful task they had not been warned about. Watch the episodes of Leadership Games on to see how well they did.

Author: Radka Dohnalova in cooperation with - Prague, 10.08.2016 

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