LvBS in Davos: How can business change Ukraine through leadership based on character?

23 Jan 2019

What impact has a leader’s personality on improving business practices and stimulating economic growth? What priorities should modern leaders have in order to be prepared for doing business with dignity on the global market? These and other topics where voiced within the panel discussion “Character in Leadership”, during the World Economic Forum-2019 in Davos.


The Founding Dean of LvBS was one of the speakers of this panel, so we share some highlights and important thoughts from this global event, where thousands of people from all over the world revealed deeper potential of Ukraine and understanding what investment, technological and creative opportunities Ukraine offers to the world community.

The participants of the panel discussion, which was held in Ukraine House Davos on 22nd of January, were:
Sophia Opatska, Founding Dean and the Head of the Supervisory Board of LvBS, Vice Rector Academic Affairs at the Ukrainian Catholic University;
Gerard Seijts, Executive Director, Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey Business School (Canada), with whom #LvBS is jointly exploring leadership in recent years;
Jaroslawa Z. Johnson, a President and Chief Executive Officer of Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), a fund that supports privatized and private companies in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.
Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor on building a national brand of the state, its national identity and reputation. Over the past twenty years, he has had the opportunity to work with governments of more than 55 countries, helping them to engage more creatively and effectively with the international community; founder of the movement The Good Country, aimed at encouraging countries to work together to solve global problems.
– This discussion was moderated by John Herbst – an American diplomat, United States Ambassador to Ukraine (2003-2006); Director at Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.

All the discussion is available here, here are some of the main theses:
 Nowadays Ukraine is forced to defend its territory, but it’s the case when “crisis” makes us do our best. Especially after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukrainians (and people from business in particular) have started to think for a longer perspective and have long-term vision, they feel responsibility for their country’s future. Ukrainian business has got more engaged into public discussions, it started to work with civil society. Entrepreneurs now got understanding that if they want to see more efficient leaders heading the state, they need to become better leaders in their organizations. It is obvious that a successful businessman is a successful leader possessing all the leader’s virtues. For example, being focused on global markets an partnership, business leaders need to have collaborative skills or sense of judgement highly developed, etc.
 Ukrainian businessmen, who study in LvBS, tend to change their focus and priorities: they have started caring not only about profit growth, but also about the sense, the meaning, longer-term thinking and reflection. The attitude to the competition has also undergone changes: it is still important but the outcome is more effective when there is cooperation and collaboration. For instance, before the MSc in Technology Management program was launched, stakeholders could hardly imagine how it could be possible to let employees from competitive companies study together – it was quite probable that they can switch to another employer. But, after a while, it became clear that if they need internationally ranked managers, they need to give them proper education, and at this point companies started to merge and create clusters and assembles, which helped to strengthen this branch in Ukraine generally.
 Ukrainian business leaders need to realize that “nice packaging” can not hide, what is inside. What counts in leadership is responsibility, ability to make more and more complicated decisions and negotiating skills. It is also important to understand that values are for clients and about clients, not for business owners. And what is more important is not to just declare these values, but implement them into life, which is quite difficult under the condition of the crisis. Ukrainians need to quit paternal expectations and take up responsibility. In particular, at the Ukrainian Catholic University we have introduced service learning methods into the educating process. These skills and practice of social service develop social responsibility for the future. Sophia Opatska stated that the Ukrainian Catholic University is eager to share its experience with other educational institutions. The more we have these kind of practice, the better it is for Ukraine.