, ,

What does it mean to be courageous?

Courageous, a word we do not often use or hear…

In my life, I’ve been told 5 times I was being courageous. One of the last time was in 2017.

I was working for Amazon, having a job that I really loved, with a great team and wonderful colleagues. I decided to resign because my husband and myself wanted to travel. Some of my colleagues told me I was being courageous. I did not think I was, but one told me: ‘Yes, you are courageous: you dare to take a decision I also would love to take but do not dare to’.

Was it an easy decision?

Not at all, it was probably one of the toughest decisions I made.

Do I regret it?

No! I not only got to travel around the world, but most importantly, I found my life purpose! Helping expats and professionals working in international organizations has always been something I’ve done, but now that I am conscious of it, that I have a goal and that I am focusing on it, I have never been more excited and more positive in my life!

To all of you out there:

Dare to take bold decisions!

Dare to take a leap of faith!

Nobody has walked in your shoes,

Nobody has had your life

Nobody is YOU…

Be courageous!

You just never know what’s around the corner…

Top 5 Leadership Skills to be a great Leader

There are lots of managers out there. Yet, there are not so many leaders…

Being a leader is not easy. Everybody can be a leader but it takes time. There are many characteristics and skills leaders should have. Some are easier to master than others.


Leadership is the ability to lead people or the action of leading a group of people.

Leadership is about planning where you need to go to achieve a goal and succeed as an organization.

VLV Leadership Development Coach - Top 5 Leadership skills

The concept of Leadership means different things to different people around the world. However, there are a few constants, no matter the situation. Whether we talk about a political leader, a famous TV presenter or a parent, they all have several common leadership skills.

Here are the top 5 Leadership skills every leader should have.


  1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, to distinguish between and label different emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior and influence that of others (Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1990).

At work, we use emotional intelligence when we empathize with our colleagues or team members. At home, it’s when we try to manage a difficult child. Or when we have deep conversations with our partner. Emotional intelligence allows us to connect with others and relate to them. It helps us understand others and ourselves better. So that we live a more authentic, healthier and happier life.

Emotional intelligence as a Leadership skill

Good or great leaders have high emotional intelligence. People such as employees or team members are more likely to work better with a leader with high emotional intelligence. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are very good listeners. These leaders empathize, ask questions and are open to feedback. They gain the trust of others. Because of that, their team members will be more inclined to follow them. They will be more committed to doing the work to achieve goals.

A leader who has emotional intelligence is not going to push his/her way forward. He/she isn’t forceful. He/she listens and does not make assumptions. A good leader shows understanding and is open to suggestions, ideas or constructive criticism. Team members know they can trust him/her. They know they can discuss things openly and that the leader will try to support them to the best of his/her ability.

Highly emotional intelligent leaders control their emotions. They keep a positive attitude, even when they are facing challenges. It does not mean they never have negative emotions. They also have some, they are still human after all. However, good leaders recognize their emotions. They manage and control them, rather have their emotions take control of them.

  1. Long term thinking

Good leaders think long term. They think big. These leaders have a vision for the future, a clear image of the desired outcome. They set long term goals and have a picture in mind of what they would like to achieve, where they would like to be in the future.

Good leaders are very creative and are ready to take risks to achieve their goals. Good leaders think strategically. They accept that they may have to sacrifice short term gains for long term wins.

The leader’s job is to communicate his/her vision to his team or organization in the best possible way and on a regular basis. This will help people to stay focused and work towards the vision.

VLV Leadership Development Coach - Top 5 Leadership skills

Communicating the vision is one thing, ensuring that it will be delivered is another.

Leaders must ensure that the long term goals are properly managed – either by themselves or by a manager to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – so that their vision is delivered successfully.

From then on, other goals will be set for the medium and short term. These SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals will be set to make sure the main milestones are achieved so that the end goal can be met.

  1. Inspiration and motivation

Having a compelling vision is the basis for leadership. But it’s the leader’s ability and responsibility to motivate and inspire people that help them deliver that vision.

The leader will describe his/her ideal picture. He/she will set long term goals and will expect people to work hard. However, he/she will also make sure that his/her team members will be rewarded when the goal has been achieved.

Usually, leaders are experts in certain areas. They are not afraid to start from scratch and get their hands dirty. They know what they are talking about. People admire and believe in these leaders because they are expert in what they do. They have earned their trust. They have credibility and have earned the right to ask people to listen to them, to work hard and follow them.

Thanks to their expertise, these leaders can motivate and inspire the people they lead more easily.

Certain leaders also have a natural charisma or appeal, something that attracts people to them and makes them likable or trustworthy. However, these leaders do not rely on their charisma to inspire and motivate people. They know it is not enough, especially in the long term.

  1. Lead by example

Good leaders say what they do and do what they say. They walk their talk.

A leader who leads by example shows respect and understanding. He/she supports all his/her team members, no matter which country or culture they come from. He/she is honest, sets expectations and meets them. Good leaders communicate clearly and openly. They listen to their team, involve their team members and ask for regular feedback.

A good leader takes responsibility. He/she takes calculated risks and is not afraid to test new things. If a mistake has been made, he/she does not blame someone else. Good leaders know that it’s ok to fail, as they always learn something in the process. They are persistent and do not give up easily.

A leader who leads by example is not afraid to roll up his/her sleeves and get their hands dirty. At the same time, a good leader also delegates to develop his/her team further and empowers his/her team.

A good leader takes care of him/herself. They know they have to be in an optimal (physical and emotional) state so that they can take care of their business, their team and customers.

  1. Hire, develop and coach the best

A leader is as good as his/her team members

Hiring the right people is one of the key elements of successful leadership. When a leader interviews a potential candidate, he/she not only looks at the candidate’s skills, previous experience, motivation. He/she also needs to be able to recognize if the candidate has the potential to perform well in his/her organization. Good leaders know that some people have some hidden talent and can identify these strengths during an interview.

Once these persons have been hired, the leader will need to ensure that the employees get the proper training and onboarding. The new hires will then acquire the necessary skills and knowledge about tools, processes so that they are able to do their job and work towards the leader’s vision.

After the new hires’ onboarding, the leader will need to provide regular feedback, by coaching and/or mentoring them or ensuring they get the right support from other peers or colleagues. Leaders need to develop their team members further, by delegating some tasks and providing additional responsibilities. One of the most important tasks of a leader is to identify and support team members who demonstrate they have the potential to become future leaders themselves. By developing the leadership skills within their organization, good leaders not only create a succession plan. They also create an environment where people can be successful in the long term.

My YouTube Channel and Instagram

Starting your own online business is not easy. There are tons of information out there, on what you should do to become visible and attract customers: be present on Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc., write articles, make videos, share pictures or a post, write a book… It’s all overwhelming.

In addition, since you are brand new in the ‘game’, you feel unsure about what to post. Does it need to be only business related? Or can you also share more personal stories?  How long does it need to be? Will you have enough creativity, enough content to show your potential customers? How do your potential customers find you?  What if someone does not like what you wrote? 

All of these feelings and questions ran through my head. Until one day, I decided to write one article,,, And another one. Then, I also started to share some posts with some pictures, mentioning things that were resonating with me… Two of my good friends, who are also coaches, then challenged me and that is how I started with videos!! A challenge called #10Tips10Days had been launched, where everyone who participated had to share some tips in the area they were familiar with… Even though I was first scared, not really sure what to post, I decided to accept this challenge.

So this is how it all started. I started posting videos on Linkedin and on Facebook. Then someone suggested I should  try to use Instagram, as a lot of people were watching videos there. So I did, I created my Instagram account. And because I wanted to make sure people could watch my videos, even if they were not connected with me on Linkedin or Facebook, I decided to start my own  YouTube Channel!  

So stay tuned and subscribe! I promise, there is more to come… 

The keys of success

I recently met a group of coaches and we asked ourselves: what is success? How come some people are successful and some others aren’t? Success is obviously different for everybody, as we all have different goals or yearnings. However, we all agreed on two things: to be successful you first have to make a decision and you have to take action.

Whether you decide to go right or left depends on circumstances and does not really ‘matter’, as long as you keep moving. Deciding to stay at the same place is not a decision as it means staying in your comfort zone. This in turn means stagnating, which in turn means that soon or later, instead of moving forward, you’re regressing.

These observations are valid not only in our professional life but also in our personal life. We all heard the expression: ‘Knowledge is power’. I do not fully agree with this, but agree with what Napoleon Hill wrote in his book ‘Think and grow rich’: Knowledge is only potential power. If you have the knowledge but do nothing about it, then this knowledge is lost because you have not taken action.

So, don’t be afraid to grab opportunities! Don’t be a spectator of your life, but act, i.e. be literally an actor! When you make a decision and take action, you have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something new. And as for me, I have decided to win the Oscar for best actress in my own life! 🙂

Message to my younger self…

When I look back, I am grateful for my personal and professional achievements. My parents, who were not wealthy and who started to work when they were 14 and 16, always did their utmost to provide me with the best education there was, and taught me to work hard, to make sure I could take care of myself, no matter what the circumstances would be. They always listened and supported me to the best of their abilities. However, I never really had anyone around with some ‘business knowledge’ who I could speak to, to ask for advice, guidance or to brainstorm my ideas. So since you cannot turn back time, I decided to write to my younger self, to mention all the things I wish someone had told me when I was in my twenties…

  1. Think carefully about your first job. When you finish your studies and look for your first job, try to find a job that you want, in an industry that you like or that you’d like to learn more of. I know in certain countries/places in the world, young people do not often have the luxury to choose between jobs and sometimes, when they get one, they’re so happy that they jump onto an opportunity, without really thinking ‘is it really the job I want to do / the company I want to work for?’ If you do have to take a job that you’re not really sure of, make sure that you give yourself 3 to 6 months to see whether this is the right ‘starting point’, or if you should start looking for another job that will meet your requirements. This step is crucial, as it will often define the direction you’re going to go.
  2. Find a mentor, someone who has experience and/or skills in areas you’d like to learn/improve. This person will guide you, will challenge you, will ask you questions you did not think of, and will help you see things from different perspectives. You’ll also learn certain tips and tricks quicker, which will give you an edge above other people in the same situation as you. This mentor may be a colleague, but it could also be a family member, a friend or a neighbour who could act as an objective soundboard.
  3. Have a long-term goal in mind. I often say ‘things happen for a reason’. When you have a goal in mind, things will definitely happen. It may take months or years before they happen, but when they do, you’ll recognize the signs and you’ll jump on the opportunity, getting you closer to where you want to be. If you do not have a specific long-term goal in mind, you may want to try the following: I sometimes challenge myself with the following questions: ‘Imagine you’re 80, and you look back at your life and what you achieved: what would you like to see? What would you like to be proud of?’ These are difficult questions to which you may not have a straight answer yet. However, doing this exercise will help you break down your goal and the different steps you need to take to achieve them.
  4. Never give up. Life is full of surprises, good and bad. It throws at you lots of challenges, professionally and personally, Even if it’s tough to deal with these challenges (and to make things worse, they often come at the same time), do not give up. It’s not the challenges that define you, it’s how you react to them. We have all been there, thinking it’s never going to end. But try to stay positive: do whatever you can to make things better and you’ll see, things will get better. Remember: when something is not going as planned, you never lose: you either win or you learn.
  5. It’s not all about motivation. I was often told that I was ‘lucky’: lucky to have a nice job, a nice car, a nice house, etc. People are quick to criticize, they often only see the tip of the iceberg but do not see what’s happening below. It takes lots of hard work, motivation and dedication to achieve your goals, but none of it would be possible without one thing: discipline. We’re all motivated to do a good job, to stay healthy, etc. However, it’s the things you do day after day, that will make you achieve what you want in life, that will make you reach your goals and help you get to the next leve