I became the Managing Director of Birn+Partners Finland less than three years ago as a big transformation was needed for our team. As a result, turnover grew by more than 300% and increased the company's visibility in Finland. It takes a lot of work to make a transformation and as a leader, you must be able to change strategy, build a new culture create new goals, visions, and quality standards, and change the way people work. It's never easy, but at its best, it brings an excellent result.
The market has been challenging in recent years in Finland and this year many industrial companies have had big difficulties. For us to truly help our clients and be the trusted advisors, we also need to be on top of the latest industry challenges and leadership trends to be able to offer our clients new solutions for their success.
What is good leadership?
Today’s world can be and is in many ways a lot more fragmented than it used to be. We have big global issues, such as the war in Ukraine, rising interest rates, climate crisis, health and well-being challenges, increased polarization, employee shortage, and new technology solutions that will change the way we work. There are global challenges and local ones that will affect any organization.
Even traditional good management practices no longer seem to work in an increasingly complex world. Leaders are often poorly prepared for complex external challenges.
To become a good leader, you must first identify your own strengths and areas for development and your own personality.
What should change in the way organizations and businesses are managed through these challenges?
It is difficult to identify the specific elements of leadership required for complex and challenging problem-solving. Yet it is crucial to understand which leadership and action models are most effective in dealing with complex problems. Leaders must have the skills and courage to make difficult decisions, but they must also be socially adaptable at expressing themselves and listening to people. The personality of the leader also plays an increasingly important role.
A good leader actively listens and allows people to take risks and try new solutions. A leader takes context into account by redefining and reformulating difficult problems as an understanding of them increases. This kind of leader works collaboratively across organizational boundaries and teams to overcome problems and works across disciplines, putting process skills above specific expertise in leadership.
A good leader does not need to have specialist knowledge in everything but rather can draw it together from multidisciplinary teams. This kind of leadership develops cultural sensitivity, e.g., by drawing on the skills of people who have lived abroad or worked in both public and private organizations.
A good leader does not jump to conclusions, but accepts ambiguity and makes informed decisions, defends the principles of fairness, and is accurate and transparent about them. A good leader can filter out uncertainty that might otherwise discourage initiative. They trust others, can delegate, and accept self-organizing teams, and, when necessary, question and challenge rules rather than allowing them to become inflexible patterns. It's not easy to be a good leader, is it? But it is very rewarding and is suitable for certain types of people.
To become a good leader, you must first identify your own strengths and areas for development and your own personality. Then you can get help through mentoring, coaching, and onboarding. Every leader needs help to develop and change their own attitudes, and their own way of thinking. It's good to have external support to guide you towards success in different situations. Realism is also important, i.e., recognizing what is possible and what is not, and what kind of team a leader needs around them to achieve the expected goals.
/Written by Mona-Maria Ilola, Managing Director, Birn+Partners Finland