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Interview With Leadership Coach Albana Vrioni

Albania Vrioni coaches and advises business leaders worldwide on Generative Leadership and Entrepreneurship - supporting them re-imagine the future, see beyond what’s obvious, and reconcile conflicting truths and competing values. Having succeeded in critical transitions, Albana developed strategies on how to shift the mindset for creative achievement, boost resourcefulness, and manage one's energy to achieve what matters and thrive in changing the game.


Her mission: A conscious leader in each game changer.

Albana Vrioni, Leadership Coach


Who is Albana?


I am Albana, executive and business coach and management consultant in generative change, devoted to business innovation. Mother of 3 amazing kids of 24, 19, and 5, wife of an extraordinary man, and daughter of 2 loving parents - one of which gave me wings to fly, while the other taught me to keep my feet on the ground. We have a special cat named Cookie, while our garden in the green Tervuren, just at the outskirts of Brussels, is an attractive place of butterflies and red squirrels.


I have been living in Belgium for over 20 years now, and before that in Norway, Germany, and England. I was born in Albania, my parents were both teachers, but I grew up in a family of an unusual mix: from my father’s side most of my aunts and uncles were into teaching (and I have 8 of them) - and from my mum’s side most of my aunts and uncles (6 of them) and my grandparents were artisans, surviving discrimination and making their ends meet. My mum came from one of the 10 influential families who signed the proclamation of Albanian Independence in 1912, but progressive thinking in dictatorship had a high price to pay.


I was an only child until the age of 10, but I grew up in a big family. My parents, despite putting all their dreams on me, made sure I grew up with a wide perspective and experience of life. I knew all of my relatives, all my neighbors, and almost everyone in the city knew whose daughter I was. So, no pressure, right? I was engaged in many activities and especially reading. I've been reading “War and Peace” and “Via col Vento” from the age of 13-14. I knew all the merchants in my district, collected “clover flowers” with friends in summertime on the fields, and sold them to buy ice cream and books of my choice, although we had the richest library in the town. I mixed well during playtime but did not shy away from clarifying the rules of the game when someone was unfair while playing.

My friends called me “iron foot” as I tended to walk fast and long distances and still be full of energy to move on.


I had a beautiful childhood, and in retrospect, maybe this was a gift to forge my optimism and strength to overcome what was coming ahead.


My dad was very much into promoting social progress and change. He believed that it was possible to have a real social system where everybody could and should contribute to its progress and manifest its genius. This was too advanced for the system we were living in and made his and our life pretty complicated, but little had I known of that suffering until my uncle of only 17 years old, and a bright student at the last year in high school, was taken to jail as he attempted to leave Albania illegally. He was condemned to life-long imprisonment while the family suffered dramatic consequences.


I was 13 back then, and our lives turned upside down. Nevertheless, it was a moment that shaped my commitment to excellence. There was only one way I could continue my education and go to university - I had to keep all my results on the highest levels. By then I was clear on the disadvantages of being rejected for the right to educate.

I grew up in a city of engineers, thanks to the rich reserves of petrol, so I was surrounded by kids of engineers, teachers, and doctors, all of them quite smart and aiming to pursue academic studies, that means that the competition to be the very best at school was tough. And I made it.

Although my dream was to become a brain surgeon, I felt happy to have been given the right to pursue engineering studies, which I finalized with high distinctions. And when the regime was about to change I decided to be part of the big change. I joined the diplomatic service.

This gave me the opportunity to work with exceptional people who in a short timeframe taught me so much about leadership and politics. Albania had started a deep and painful transition. I loved every bit of contributing to something meaningful that went beyond me. To support my career in international relations I decided to privately carry a Master’s program in Norway.

In 1997, however, Albania went through dramatic social confusion and complete turmoil. My life, too!


I was celebrating the birth of my first child when I learned about the assassination of my brother, only 17 years old. I had experienced injustice, I had witnessed cruelty, and there I was, suffering the pain of loss while holding my tears and rocking a newborn.


I finished my Master program on time, with honors, and I was the only student to have a client project and research that was published, in collaboration with my professor, in the International Journal of Advertising. Shortly afterward I grasped the opportunity of a career in Belgium and we have been here ever since, for more than 20 years now, building a new home in this cosmopolitan city.


Looking back on those years, has it been a walk in the park? If anything else it has resembled hiking uncharted paths – putting together the struggle and joy of achieving new heights. It has been a rich life experience where challenges and achievements have followed each other. It seemed like each time we had something important and significant achieved, a backslash followed requiring more resilience and more creativity to bounce back.

In 2016, as we found our dream house of my dreams, we got the news of a new baby on the way, which was born in barely 6 months. Those three months of supporting him to survive and grow into a healthy human being, meanwhile assuring the renovation work on our new home was on track and working my fingers to the bone to deliver to my client have been extraordinary experiences that had a profound impact on composing the meaning of life.

And this is what validated for me the difference that generative intelligence can make in bouncing back and re-imagining the future.


What is it that you do for your clients?


I support Leaders and Teams succeed in transforming a persisting or a disruptive challenge, or an idea (or a dream) into an innovative project, and transformational change.

I do it through consulting or coaching, and engaging hands-on side by side to make it happen. I put skin in the game and pursue client work where we grow both sides.


My clients work with me when they have a sense of urgency and importance in shifting gears - meaning in succeeding the realization of an innovative idea project, or in overcoming disruption or persisting struggle to re-invent themselves and their business. Whether they have tried to go in it alone, or have a developed sense of leadership alliances, they work with me when they have understood deep down that logic alone will not take them into the new places of what's possible.

And that’s the work that I do for my clients - helping them get to the new places of what is possible through creative consciousness.


Using a generative change method I help clients access and use creative imagination as the pivoting point of realizing their potential. When my clients want to get unstuck and shift gears, they start doing so by re-calibrating their inner core which helps create a focus of attention which in return helps them channel energy where it matters most. And this prepares the ground for accessing creative imagination. My clients don’t always have a clear goal, but very often have a hunch or an inner call that something has to change or something is emerging. And we define this together. We connect with each other in ways that create a field where new ideas emerge. The next important piece of work is on activating systemic resourcefulness. When my client is stuck, no matter what their IQ is, which often is very high, their logic is stuck, too. It has been exhausted in terms of horse-power. So we work to re-balance the system of performance in ways that allow bouncing back even more resourceful. While, when my client is enthusiastic about their new project, we look at how this enthusiasm can be transmitted into realistic planning or “channelled into productive lines of action”.


Then we look at the Manifestation which more is more than taking action - as it is about the embodiment of who one is becoming - there is no generative change without embodiment. Generative intelligence is an ability and a field of energy - and the whole coaching process is about leveraging that ability and energy field.


My clients are typically action-driven - this step in the process helps them tune their system of receiving and processing feedback. The fact that they enter into a coaching conversation is because they have made sense of at least some of the feedback that the system they operate in has sent. We work to enlarge that field of receptivity, prioritise, and process the feedback effectively. Integrating the processed feedback leads to a new cycle of development - shifting gears.


I do use a catalyst assessment to start the conversations with the client - insightful as it is, we know both sides that it is just like a mirror. As a coach, during the debriefing and the coaching process I help the client see the blind spots - see what they do not see when they usually look in the mirror and identify the growth potential. Any good coach does this. Where my work brings value is in helping the client transform this insight into increased consciousness to connect the big picture of the mindset to micro-habits that define their success, and then into an elevated agency to shift from understanding to acting.


My clients learn to manage fear and develop leap-faith in embracing new perspectives, welcoming the challenge, and transforming it into a resource.


I have an inner drive to help my clients get to the next level of their greatness. There is so much creativity, genius, and greatness that we as humanity have still to manifest and I like to leave my footprint on this, one person, one team, one organisation at a time.


In the forefront, my client work happens mostly through conversations, playful & insightful learning, and my presence. But in the background, I put a lot of work on sense-making and sense-giving to the evolutions around us, synthesizing and conferring it through change models and frameworks that I put into the service of my client and for self-mastery.


I support clients in many different industries: ICT & Professional Services, Security, Financial Services, Air Traffic Management, Arts, etc. Different from consulting and mentoring, coaching is not about expertise in a function, or in the industry – not at all.It is about the quality of self-mastery and sound mastery of the dynamics that influence the quality of human relationships at different levels. And this is where I offer reliable service to my clients across industries and functions.


3 tips from my expertise


Working with various clients and specific businesses typologies, I have discovered that 3 tips that lay on top of what my coaching clients list:

  1. The struggle is not our enemy – failing to take control of our mental attitude towards the struggle is. Every adversary holds the seed of the next achievement; every constraint is an invitation or an opening to thinking creatively for a new solution and strengthening our willpower to realize it. Holding the space to welcome the struggle or the adversity is the pivoting point of creating turning challenges into creative achievement.

  2. There is no such thing as receiving without giving. You receive an equitable value to what you give for realizing your goal, in quality, quantity, and mental attitude. You’ll enjoy prosperity in an equitable value to the quantity and quality of your effort, and the mental attitude you give to your prosperity goal; you receive attraction in an equitable value to the quantity, quality, and mental attitude you give to manifesting a magnetic personality; you are successful, in an equitable value to enabling others to be successful; you are loved in an equitable value to loving others, and so on.

  3. Take control of the image you hold of yourself . You are a product of the image that you hold of yourself. The environment you live and act in defines the field of references, for sure. But you can enlarge and enrich that field. The thing is that if you do not take control of that image, it will take control of you. Every result is a consequence of previously produced results from actions taken or not taken. When it comes to sustainable meaningful changes of your self-image, the brain changes its chemistry and motivates you towards actions in line with your self-image only after you act, not before.

Who should hire/work with you?

People aiming to make a game changing contribution have been my inspiration in life and I give my best when working for and with them.


These are often entrepreneurs and business owners who have the hunch of chartering new paths, creating a new track record, and building new business ventures. I’m happy to see that women are more and more part of that group. Their pursuit often requires support in re-inventing themselves and their relationships, and in adopting a mindset that supports them for the specific goals they want to pursue.


The other important group of my typical clients is corporate leaders and leadership teams who want to succeed in business innovation and turnarounds when the business context is rather challenging, organisational culture unsupportive, and the stakeholdership ecosystem rather complex. Their pursuit often requires support in re-balancing executive thinking with creative consciousness, in re-imagining the future and from that place, reconciling conflicting truths and completing priorities, and taking brave decisions.


I also team up with other coaches and subject matter experts to create new products and service offerings and deliver larger-scale missions. People who work well with me, in common projects and ventures, are enthusiastic people who are keen on creative problem solving and pursuing goals that transcend them.


What is your big goal? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?


My dream is to realize a social and business context that allows anyone to sing the song they have inside of them. I want to see a fluid workforce that strives to accomplish its potential and enjoys the fruits of their work and of their flourished potential.


On a micro level, I yearn to unlock that inner essence in people who want to make a game-changing contribution, who want to lead themselves to their next level of greatness. My number one, day to day goal is having each client succeed in their pursuit, and with this having more leaders and leadership teams unleash their inner genius and transform their ideas into transformational undertakings and creative achievement.


On a macro level, I desire to contribute to accelerating business innovation and its positive impact on a better world, helping in the conception and adoption of innovative solutions as enablers of a better future. Therefore, it is my goal to transform this desire into reality by scaling the outreach and impact of my coaching and consulting work and by making a meaningful contribution through a generation of conscious leaders that my work is creating.


In 10 years I still see myself running in the marathon of re-inventing the future, but hopefully with a larger cohort of leaders that will inspire, on their side, a new generation of conscious leaders.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


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