As most of you know, over the past 38 years I have spent most of my days coaching and advising CEOs and C-Level Executives in companies around the Globe.

Among the many questions I am asked lately, there is one that seems to be recurring and that I find particularly important and useful: “What makes a good CEO (and I would add C-Level Executive) for a VUCA world of Tsunamis of Transformation where everything is always shifting and transforming?”

The world we live in is in a profound transformation!!! This is not new. In some way, the world has always undergone some form of transformation. However, we are now dealing with some additional variables that make transformation so much more challenging and exponential

  • technology makes everything faster, exponential, more immediate and accesible…
  • people are travelling and are mobile like never before…
  • various events in our recent past have generated a crisis of trust… and this sense of mistrust doesn’t seem to be going away…
  • uncertainty seems to have become a daily occurrence… the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world has become an accepted part of our daily lives…
  • to name a few…

And yet… as CEOs and C-Level Executives… and as people living and working in organisations… we seem to continue to operate much in the same way we did throughout the XXthcentury. The world is transforming around us… but we have not significantly changed “the way we work” and “the way we are”.

These are some of the lessons learned from working with some ordinary people who are extraordinary CEOs and C-Level Executives…

  • they have re-invented themselves a number of times in order to stay relevant…
  • they have redefined their “comfort zones” into “constantly shifting comfort zones”; in other words, their comfort zones have become a NO comfort zones…
  • they love what they do and they look forward to getting out there every single day!!! They feel privileged and have fun!!!
  • And most importantly, they learned to master The Seven Arts!!!

The Seven Arts are not taught as a program in any MBA or Executive Development Program. And yet, mastering The Seven Arts is more than a survival kit… it is the secret to BEING the CEO or C-Level Executive for this brave new world… a VUCA world where transformation is the day-to-day.

“The Seven Arts”

The Art of Visioning

In a fast changing world, the mastery of visioning has become an art. It’s the ability to integrate a set of complex and fast changing variables… and it’s also the ability to bring feeling and intuition into the process that makes visioning today a truly complex exercise.

Mastering the art of visioning has become a multifaceted art that integrates various disciplines and many new paradigms. In facilitating a process of visioning, we need to be able to paint pictures, tell stories, generate energy, provoke passions, see possibilities, identify opportunities, cohabit with uncertainty, create dynamic environments that are adaptable, make shifts and transformation a natural part of the process.

Visioning is no longer static. The art is no longer a picture of a plausible future. The paradigm has shifted and the art of visioning has been transformed.

The Art of Conversation

Through conversation, we connect and build relationships. The best systems, policies, technologies or processes will never replace the power of a robust conversation. Conversation is at the core of leadership and of doing business and at the centre of any relationship. And yet, we live in a world where we don’t seem to have time to sit down and have a conversation.

The art of conversation is key to becoming a CEO or C-Level Executive. Through conversation we seek to understand… we exchange points of view… and we build new perspectives.

Conversation is one of the building blocks to building relationships and developing mutual trust.

The Art of Empathic Listening

Communication is key. We spend years learning how to read and write, and years learning how to speak. But what about listening? What training do we do that enables us to listen and to deeply understand another human being? Probably none!!

When you are in a conversation, do you listen with your own autobiographical filter? Or do you listen to actually understand the speaker? Most people seek first to be understood. They want to get their point across. And in doing so, they ignore the other person completely. Why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.

We need to stop… and learn to listen to understand the other… and not listen to reply. Only when we truly understand the other can we reply in a meaningful way.

When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It’s an entirely different paradigm. Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another person’s frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their paradigm, and you understand how they feel.

The Art of Storytelling

Stories can change the way we think, act, and feel. They can form the foundations of an entire culture, and they have the power to break down barriers and turn bad situations around. Stories can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us in a way that cold, hard facts often can’t.

Stories can be powerful business tools, and successful leaders use them to engage their teams.

When we tell a story well, it can create an intense, personal connection between our audience and our message. Effective stories can change our opinions, they can inspire us to achieve goals that we didn’t think were possible, and they can show us how we can change things for the better.

Great storytellers know that a powerful story is only part of what inspires people to listen. The best storytellers are also the best listeners. Brush up on your active listening skills, and give others your full attention when they tell a story.

When you tell a story, you create an experience for your listeners. Appeal to all five senses; don’t just tell them.

And most of all, it’s important to be authentic. Use stories that tell other people more about who you are, and why you’re here. Great storytellers share their purpose and their passions through their stories.

The Art of Simplicity

Simplicity. A beautiful word. A word that, by its mention alone, creates a sense of relief in this increasingly complex world. Simplicity is a value most would agree is something worth striving for. But so often it seems hard – if indeed we have time to think about it at all.

And that’s where the problem starts. Simplicity doesn’t just ‘happen’. In fact without conscious effort, nothing is simple and complexity is almost certain to happen.

Our modern world generates complexity very fast. It doesn’t encourage simplicity. Did you ever see anyone advertising a television ‘now with less features’? Or a software vendor offering a product ‘downgrade’?

We ultimately have two choices: We can be swept along on this wave of complexity, working harder, faster and with less control as we try to fit everything in. Or we can make a conscious decision to simplify our businesses and our lives, to start peeling away the unnecessary and getting back to basics.

As CEOs and C-Level Executives, you are key to bring simplicity back into your business ecosystems.

It’s easy to make things complex. It’s an art to make them simple.

The Art of Capturing Hearts and Minds

More than roles, we deal with human beings. People have agenda. They have multiple agenda. They have expectations. They have expectations at multiple levels. In their interactions and relationships, there are complex human dynamics that we need to both understand and integrate into our approaches. In our role, we need to capture the full person in order for the processes to be sustainable and real. Capturing the full person means hearts as well as minds. We cannot dissociate people’s professional agenda from their personal agenda, because they go hand-in-hand. Understanding this interdependence and finding the integrated solutions is the essence of the art of capturing hearts and minds.

The Art of Shifting Energy and Commitment

Bringing a process from darkness into the light and energising it is a key to transformation, and to mobilizing people and engaging them with a new or renewed project. Generating sustainable commitment and transforming it into action is another key aspect of transformation. How we shift energy and commitment in the room… how we shift it throughout a process… how we do it sustainably… and how we manage its fluctuations… how we engage and re-engage people… how we deal with multiple agenda with different levels and types of commitment… this is the essence and the art of shifting energy and commitment.


About Luis Soares Costa

From the very beginning, coaching has always been at the core of my passions.

For the past 38 years I have been an Executive and Team Coach working globally with CEOs and their C-Suite Executives, Business Owners and top talent in a significant number of the major global companies (including a significant number of Fortune 500), innovative companies operating in new ecosystems and dynamic family owned businesses.

During the past 28 years, I have also been an Executive and Team Coach and a “consultant to consultants” developing partners and top talent at major consultancies, Big4 Firms and Legal Firms

As an Executive and Team Coach, I partner with you and/or your teams in a “real play” thought-provoking and creative process which inspires you to “connect the dots” and maximize your personal and professional potential. The aim of the partnership is to bring about a sustained behavioral and performance transformation and profoundly shift the quality of your and your team’s working and personal life, whilst maximizing your potential and generating sustainable value.

You can contact me at and visit my Website at