The leader who makes a difference

by Therese Johansson

The hottest thing in NLC right now is the importance of culture in companies. We are some of the key players who are changing corporate culture and its importance for sustainability. When the question came, what was most important out of culture, business acumen or organization/leadership, all three of us agreed that it was culture that was most important to preserve sustainability in the long run. I have always encouraged uniform work throughout the organization.

When we scatter in different directions, we create more chaos than productivity. Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of the foundation of the company, because that is where everything was started. An exciting example of a company that protects its culture and core values is IKEA, which through its uniform style internationally has become almost synonymous with Sweden.

The tools are the same but how they are customized varies

When I visit companies, I make sure that those of us who step in as consultants fit in with the company's culture and values. The reason for that is that I myself experienced irritation when I myself worked as a leader and happy consultants came in the middle of the organization and ran their race. Innovation is good, but it should go in line with the direction the company wants to steer its ship towards. Therefore, one should go to decisive management and ensure that the innovative ideas that arise go in line with the strategic and tactical plans that have been decided. Many examples of this can be seen in the disappointment that things did not turn out as expected when a company decided to work according to the LEAN model. There is nothing wrong with LEAN, it is absolutely fantastic, but the method should be adapted to suit each individual company with its culture, value base, policy, processes, methods and other systems. It is something that consultants forget when they have to carry out the implementation and then those who have worked for a long time at the company become upset, to say the least. We can compare it to stepping into and refurnishing someone's home without first knowing how the people who live there want it.

It is important to agree on the basis of values when recruiting

A new manager had been recruited to a company. After a few months, the employees began to end up in a destructive spiral and well-being in the workplace became worse. Here is a difficult issue to deal with, it takes time in the change process to make things fall into place. How should we think when we bring in a new person who is to be merged with the culture and value base that the company has? Of course we should give each person a chance, but at what cost?

I had a reconciliation on another matter among these employees and what I heard worried me. I went to the top manager and prudently asked how things were. This manager is not much for political correctness and after a quick read on me saw that I was confused. I was asked directly what I thought and my immediate answer was that I thought the newly recruited manager would never fit into the company. This is because the person did not share the company's leadership philosophy or the culture that the company had. The company wanted cooperation across borders, that everyone is of equal importance with goals and that everyone stands up for each other with a positive and helpful approach. The newly recruited manager was of the old school and thought that as a manager you should be listened to and that there should be no cooperation between management and employees.

The courage to act

The joy of coming back a month or so later, to meet a more harmonious work team is wonderful for a geek like me. Courageous leadership that looks at the whole in its decisions, is not stuck in prestige but has the sensitivity to sense what is best for the entire business with its team and employees. It is something that impresses me greatly.