Didrik Bech – CEO Elmatica
The art and science of leadership. What is leadership and what styles of leadership are there? Leadership has various definitions depending on where in the world you are. The range of attributes varies from “a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations” to “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”
Are you an Autocratic, Democratic or Laissez-faire leader?
Leadership styles are often attributed to a situation or circumstance a company can find it encompassed in. Here we can briefly introduce five key leadership styles starting with: Autocraticleadership, where all decision-making powers are centralized in the leader. Democratic leadership style where the leader shares the decision-making abilities with group members.
Laissez-faire leadership style is decision-making passed on to the subordinates with the right and power to make decisions to establish goals and work out the problems or hurdles. Task-orientedleadership style where leaders are generally more concerned with producing a step-by-step solution for a given problem or goal, strictly making sure these deadlines are met, results and reaching target outcomes.
Paternalism leadership styles often reflect a father-figure mindset, with a hierarchically organized team where the leader is viewed above the followers. The leader also provides both professional and personal direction in the lives of the members.
What does your leadership style depend on, and how to be successful?
The definition of leadership and style is consequently dependent on where and when you were brought up, education you have taken and the financial, technological and cultural situation of where one is executing once leadership. To draw a parallel between leadership and creating and maintaining a successful business, therefore both have an element of art and science to it.
In relation to leadership and business success, I would like to share some of my thoughts and experience. I am not claiming it is the right or correct recipe for all circumstances, However, I believe my leadership style has been successful in relation to creating emotional and economical value for my colleagues and shareholders, but the ultimate judgement of this shall be bestowed upon my colleagues and shareholders.
Psychological capital – the key to break it or make it
Elmatica recently participated in a master thesis concerning change management and how leadership can minimize the negative effects of organizational change and still motivate the employees. The key is psychological capital. Recent research shows that the link between psychological capital and authentic leadership is more important than ever in change situations, both for a company as a whole and the individual.
The Personal leadership style
Elmatica, dating back to 1971, is a company with plenty of history, routines and traditions. When I had the privilege of joining the company in 2011, I was to become the third CEO for the last 40 years. One key aspect at that time was to modernize, digitalize and further internationalize the company.
This constitutes change, and change is not always welcomed, even though everybody considers it crucial. The leadership style I believe in is what I call Personal leadership. Personal leadership can be described as a combination between Democratic and Task-oriented leadership with emphasis on creating psychological capital or challenge and support people to live more productive and meaningful lives, and to realize their potential as this realized the potential of the company
Personal leadership can be defined as developing strategies and goals based on current and future internal capabilities, implementing organizational escalation levels, clear mandates and responsibilities, transparency and mutual respect. This type of leadership equips and develops the organization with the correct capabilities and dramatically increases its chances of becoming a successful business.
Ruling by the power of position – or by inspiration and influence?
Many of the challenges of today’s leadership are not the same as during 1970. The hierarchical, command and control structures of the past are practically gone in many countries and companies. Just telling someone to do something without a purpose is not optimal in a complex business structure. Whilst leaders of the past would lead by the power of their position, leaders of today should lead by inspiration, influence and cooperation.
Nurturing the psychological capital and further developing it. With new technology, social media and constant and immediate access to information, a leader should no longer stay put in his corner office. Changes happen faster than before and every leader needs to be right there, out in the field with his colleagues, fighting the same battles, leading the way by doing, not just saying.
The naming of the role is not a random choice, are you a boss or a leader?
For me, leadership starts by “naming”. I do not want to be perceived as a Boss, but I wish to inspire others to be leaders and this starts with addressing the people I represent as colleagues. Being a leader in any position is to take control and develop once responsibilities and mandate, on both a business and personal level. Understanding what you like and what you want in context with the organization’s requirements, will allow you to transform your initiative into creative energy, which creates value for you and your company.
I say “Those who do not seek to explore once potential and push the boundaries of one’s existence, will not have the pleasure and honour of understanding what one has to give, deserve and seek”.
The true joy of being a leader
Whilst many seem to believe that leadership is about deciding and delegating. For me it is about enabling colleagues with trust, support, responsibility and mandate – to support their personal development and the company. The goal is to promote personal initiative and a culture of allowing mistakes to happen, as long as there was an analysis and strategy for the decision, which lead to failure. We learn much more from our failures than our successes and nothing should be more gratifying to a leader than seeing once colleagues and friends develop and improve. This is one of the true joys of being a leader.
What is the one thing money can’t buy?
If loyalty is something you consider as a key attribute for developing your company, then implementing a Personal leadership style is one clear way to go, as loyalty is not something money can buy.
However, with every leadership style there are also potential negative effects one must be aware of and know how to address. In an organization based on trust, mandates and friendship, one can experience that a colleague can fail to understand the boundaries of once position and “take rights” one does not have.
It is hence crucial that the company has developed and implemented a quality management system to address these boundaries. This will make it clear, when one must seek and how to seek permission. If this is not addressed properly, some people can misunderstand the trust they have been given and can, with the best intentions, wrongfully take matters into their own hands.
What to search for in a leader?
Creating and maintaining a successful business in the long run, is literally impossible without “proper” leadership. To find, attract and retain leaders which seemingly create success after success, while protecting and safeguarding the individual colleague and shareholders, is simply said to be challenging.
My advice when searching for your new leader is, take your time to get to know them and let them get to know the company. Look beyond the academic background of the individual, understand who they are, what makes them “tick”, what is their emotional realm, as emotions govern reason and not the other way around.
As a rule of thumb you should minimum spend 70% of your time in any interview learning about the candidates upbringing, thoughts, moral, life philosophy and other highly emotional aspects. Creating trust and loyalty begins at the first encounter and emotional capital will be the premise for this exchange.
A leader expressing emotions?
Some literature and leaders claim that you should not express emotions as a leader, I know we are all different individuals, some more emotional than others, but please tell me what is more natural than expressing how you feel? The key is to address each individual at the emotional level they are currently residing on, and respect their boundaries. By doing so, a great leader can access once personal emotional capital to establish contact, motivate and understand individuals within a wide range of emotional levels.
Being a leader or the representative of many colleagues, implies that the leader will have to address numerous aspects, it can be described as a person standing on a windy mountain top. This analogy is quite accurate for most leading positions, however if you have a Personal leadership style you will have the benefit of addressing these challenges in a democratic and task-oriented style. Where people will be creative, trustworthy and loyal and with the same strategy and goal as the leader.
Finally you can ask yourself, what kind of leader am I, how is my leader, and what kind of organization do I work in?
This article was first published in the September edition of the PCB Magazine in our column, The PCB Norsemen.