The Slovenia Times

AEIOU of Leadership - Fostering a Holistic Ethos of Conscious Leadership


Ravi Chaudhry: May I begin by sharing the first thought that came to my mind when I read your brilliant book: Wow, here is a new leadership guru from the Julian Alps!

My sincere compliments on this enlightening book on how to transition from being a good leader to a great leader. In a way, it is a continuation of the themes outlined in your first book: The Energy inside Leadership, in which you focused on 'employees first', 'collaborative leadership', and the importance of ethics and integrity to transform a company's top line as well as bottom line. In this book, you explore further to vividly outline the attributes of ethics and integrity in such a holistic way that they are universally applicable. Could you share the salient high points in your illuminating quest?

Sonja Klopcic: Coming from the sunny side of the Julian Alps, from Slovenia, the only country in the world that carries love in its name, I feel the need to bring love into the business context. I am not talking about romantic love, but love towards everyone and everything, about love as a way of relating to the world, about caring, nurturing and supporting. A leadership attitude stems from an individual's intimate, internal attitude to the world. A leader's internal world is mirrored in the external world, in the development of his or her relationships with co-workers, business partners and other stakeholders of the organisation. Love, in the business context, is expressed with responsibility, collaboration, respect, encouragement, support, compassion, inspiration and enthusiasm.
Leadership based on the energy of love, the comprehension of how everything is interconnected, creating meaningful work to accomplish the organisation's mission, taking the responsibility for the well-being of everyone and on developing relationships based on trust, represent the five dimensions of holistic leadership, all condensed in the acronym AEIOU.

Ravi: I am most charmed by your discovery of five ancient words, from five different continents, that represent the essence of human wisdom, so simply and yet, so compellingly. I am sure this must have been a very exciting journey. How long was this search? Was it easy; was it difficult?

Sonja: I deliberately wanted to find vibrant words, starting with vowels, to describe each of the five dimensions of leadership for tomorrow. Vowels vibrate and resonate, as leaders should do. Together with consonants/co-workers they create meaningful words/solutions. It took me almost three years to find these powerful words: Aroha - Eb - Ikigai - Oikos - Ubuntu. Aroha comes from New Zealand, Eb from Mexico and Guatemala, Ikigai from Japan, Oikos from Greece, and Ubuntu from South Africa.

By linking the selected words aroha, eb, ikigai, oikos, and ubuntu into the AEIOU of leadership, we can also symbolically interconnect the entire world, just as the interlaced Olympic rings united the five continents under the guidance of Pierre de Coubertin. The interlocked rings of the Olympic symbol represent coexistence, mutual respect and friendship among the nations from the five continents depicted in different colours. Blue is Europe, black is Africa, red America, yellow Asia and green Australia with Oceania. These are also the continents whence originate the words that convey the ancient wisdom of their first, indigenous inhabitants. The words aroha - love, eb - interconnectedness, ikigai - mission, oikos - responsibility for the well-being of everyone, and ubuntu - relationships, united in AEIOU represent a universal collection of five dimensions for heartfelt leaders from around the globe. I hope that the AEIOU acronym connects leaders just like the Olympic symbol unites athletes.



Ravi: Another great feature of the book is that you have supported each concept with credible examples and case studies, clearly demonstrating that these are not just theoretical notions, these are astute pointers to one's growth as a person and success as a leader. You have deftly described the various stages in this evolutionary flow - in what you call the DUMO wheel of evolution. Do you think more and more leaders in business and society are ready to imbibe these precepts and start practising these naturally, in their day-to-day work?

Sonja: I certainly observe signals of leadership transformation and new role models, embodying the principles of the AEIOU of leadership. Research shows that the manner of management importantly affects the development of organisations. We can spin the DUMO wheel of evolution towards thinking and conscious organisations only by employing both masculine and feminine principles. By using approaches of modern leadership, we can activate the potential and talents which are lying dormant in our employees. By including people more and strengthening their commitment, our achievements can be significantly greater.

Under the auspices of the Managers' Association of Slovenia we carried out a survey on how modern leadership is in Slovenian organisations. The survey included 153 companies of all sizes. The results show that Slovenian companies, being firmly entrenched in a learning environment, generally still bet on productivity and quality. The survey results also showed that the excellent companies, those who show above-average business results in various fields, are also well-managed, with more than half of those already in the thinking phase. Service companies are particularly prominent in this regard since their representatives are already in the conscious phase of the DUMO wheel.

Ravi: You have spoken on your book to various people in many countries. What have been the discernible reactions from the audiences? Do they relate to your validation that the ethos of conscious leadership that emerges from the book is indeed universally applicable?

Sonja: Before the book was published I had connected with people from five continents to be completely sure I used the five words according to their meaning. Then I tested the AEIOU concept in larger groups. I went to Athens, to the cradle of oikos, to participate at Global WIN Conference. After I presented the AEIOU model for leadership, it got very high interest. After that, I went to another global conference, outside the EU but still in Europe, in Switzerland, and the result was the same. People from all over the planet confirm that the concept is universal.

Ravi: I believe that the message in your book is so strong that it will soon gain widespread accolades "as a guide to be better and make the world better." Any other points that you would like your readers to keep in mind as they pursue this memorable voyage through the pages of your book?

Sonja: The book calls for action to attain the 4P's in business: people-purpose-planet-profit. Conscious leaders know that the profit is a consequence of investing in people. They do not manage their organisations solely as business ventures, but also as platforms for fulfilling their mission and the mission of their employees, thereby contributing to the welfare of the community. They know that their responsibility extends far beyond the limits of the organisations they manage. Their striving for the 4P's springs from leading with the energy of love towards everything and everyone.


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