Many have asked how I came into leaving my General Counsel career behind and became a Business Coach. I have been a bit amazed about it myself as well. I lived so long in that role and it played a major part of my life.
I have been in a General Counsel position (Head of Legal) in several companies and industries since year 2000 and a legal counsel for six years prior to that. Aside of heading the Group legal services and the international legal teams, I have been a member of the Group executive teams and the secretary of the board. I have been heading also compliance, risk management and insider information management. The work has been exciting, independent, with lots of challenges and therefore satisfying. I have had the power and freedom to act in my responsibility areas, I have been respected for my work and I have been well compensated. I grew with all the experiences with different work cultures and growing responsibilities. From the start, it has been important for me to work for companies whose operations I found ethical and meaningful such as clean energy manufacturing and supply and IT security. With the 24/7 work role that I had, I’ve always valued time over money.
The last two-three years as the General Counsel were exceptionally hectic with a large IPO and a big court case on top launching a global compliance program and all the other projects and daily work. At the same time I was also a Chairman and board member of a listed company. Last year I looked at the picture from outside, not just me in it but the bigger picture: my reasons and motivators for doing what I do and what I wanted from my life going forward and most importantly, what is happening around me. I had 25 years behind in my career and many more years to come. I decided that it was the time for change. At first, it was surprisingly difficult to define myself outside of the work role, I had been living and breathing it for so long. I left my position promising to myself not to make any hasty decisions about the next steps but instead let the time tell. Very soon I realized that I cannot just be without doing something meaningful. I knew I was not motivated about office work and endless meetings. I love outdoors and it gives me the best ideas and balance.
I started thinking about what I've experienced. The ups and downs of companies, the good and not so good leadership styles, strategies and business cultures and what effect it had on managers and the business. I was looking deeper into the business trends and leadership styles and profiles, I listened to the experiences and interests of others in business. And then I came across business coaching, of which I did not really know much about. It sounded like something that could improve my role as a board member and mentor but also in finding my next goal. So I decided to give it a chance. I trained to be a certified business coach. Quite soon during my studies I noticed that it was the perfect addition and continuation to my board and mentor roles and the executive and manager roles that I have had. It became the exciting next phase for me, a way of supporting companies that are motivated in improving the work of their leaders and managers and thereby improving their business. My dream during the studies was to be able to give coaching to teams also in great outdoor settings.
Coming from such a different role, I was nervous to start the coaching but I felt strongly that it was what I should do. I was so happy to get all the positive feedback from the customers. My ex-team member from 2005 commented my first coaching blog that she realized from it that I was practising coaching leadership style already then. I knew I had found what I was looking for. I set up my company. Phase 3 of my life had started. And today my coaching retreat in 2018 in a beautiful landscape in Southern France was published.
Kirjoitanpa nyt blogin suomeksi kun luin tänään uutisen Suomen elinkeinoelämän suhdannenäkymistä. Elinkeinoelämän keskusliiton tuorein suhdannebarometri nimittäin kertoo, että suomalaisen elinkeinoelämän suhdannenäkymät ovat parantuneet kesän ja syksyn aikana. Teollisuus- ja rakennusalan yritykset kuvaavat tämänhetkistä tilannetta yleisesti keskimääräistä vahvemmaksi. Myös palvelualoilla tilanne on kirkastunut vähän yli tavanomaiseksi. Kuitenkin jopa 23% yrityksistä kokee rekrytointivaikeuksia. (Talouselämä.fi 30.10.2017) Yleisesti on tiedossa, että tiettyjen alojen asiantuntijoista, kuten hyvistä koodareista, on huutava pula ja kilpailu osaajista on kova.
Miten sitten houkutella hyviä tekijöitä tiimeihin ja pitää heistä kiinni? Ekahaun varatoimitusjohtaja Jussi Kiviniemi toteaa 29.10.2017 Helsingin Sanomissa: “Perusasioiden on oltava kunnossa [---]. Mutta jos firmassa on mulkkuja tai missio on epäeettinen, ei edes tuplapalkka auta mitään.” Tutkimustenkin mukaan tietyn palkkatason jälkeen tyytyväisyys ei palkannoususta juuri lisäänny. Tarvitaan jotain muuta, merkityksellisempää. Houkuttelevan työnantajan on pystyttävä tarjoamaan mielekäs sijainti työnteolle, merkitykselliseltä tuntuvaa työtä, mielenkiintoisia projekteja ja kehitysmahdollisuuksia. Tärkeää on myös, että työssä on mukavaa. Työkulttuuri on tärkeä. HS nostaa esiin itseorganisoitavuuden: joissain yrityksissä työntekijöille ja heidän tiimeilleen annetaan päätösvalta. Johtoa, tai ainakaan keskijohtoa, ei tarvita eikä sitä siksi ole. Näin on esimerkiksi pelifirma Valvessa. Tämä edellyttää tietysti vahvaa luottamusta työntekijöihin ja itseensä. Mutta se edellyttää myös työntekijöiltä, ja johdolta, vastuuta olla jotain muuta kuin ennalta määrätyn tehtävän toteuttaja. Jokaisen tulee miettiä, miten kehittää toimintaa, miten olla luottamuksen arvoinen.
Miten sitten ohjata toimintaa tätä kohti? Toimivatko siinä vakiintuneen tavan mukaiset bonukset? Reaktorilla ja Ekahaussa henkilökohtaisista insentiiveistä on luovuttu. Reaktorin Strandellin mukaan se saattaisi johtaa itsekeskeiseen ajatteluun. Ekahaun Kiviniemen mukaan heidän työntekijänsä tietävät, mitä asiakas tarvitsee, koska he kommunikoivat suoraan asiakkaiden kanssa. Sen toteuttaminen ja maailman parantaminen motivoi, ei rahan perässä juokseminen, Kiviniemi toteaa Helsingin Sanomien haastattelussa. Olen nähnyt itse saman. Vajaa kymmenen vuotta sitten lähdin softatalosta, jossa oli vahva työkulttuuri ja yhteenkuuluvaisuuden tunne. Tunsimme tekevämme merkityksellistä työtä, pelastimme maailmaa. Tämä yhdessä luotu kulttuuri yhdistää meitä silloin yhtä aikaa työskennelleitä yhä tänäkin päivänä ja muistelemme noita aikoja lämmöllä.
Mutta miten oppia luottamaan työntekijöihin niin paljon, että todella antaa näiden päättää? Useinhan työntekijöitä valtuutetaan, mutta viimeisen sanan sanoo kuitenkin yhtiön johto ja tämä käytäntö saattaa aiheuttaa suurta turhautuneisuutta työntekijöissä. Olen nähnyt näin käyvän erityisesti konsernin tytäryhtiössä, jotka tuntevat paikallisen kulttuurin ja asiakkaat. He ihmettelevät, miksi heihin ei luoteta, miksi heidän kanssaan ei keskustella siitä, mikä heidän mielestään olisi paras tapa toimia.
Ja kuinka nyt sitten voi tietää, mikä työntekijöitä motivoi ja ajaa eteenpäin kohti parempia ratkaisuja? Tai millainen työkulttuuri on? Koetaanko se kannustavaksi? Saako virheitä tehdä? Avataanko ison virheen sattuessa samppanjapullo, kuten olen kuullut tehdyn Supercellissä, koska erehdysten kautta eteneminen opettaa enemmän ja mahdollistaa paremman lopputuloksen?
Kirjoitin jo aiemmassakin blogissani siitä, että nykypäivän johtaminen edellyttää rehellistä, avointa ja positiivista keskustelua ja herkkää korvaa palautteelle. Tarvitaan myös hieman intuitiota aistia työyhteisön ilmapiiriä. Luottamusta ei voi syntyä ilman dialogia ja avoimuutta. Ilman tilaa ja vapautta mikromanageeraamisesta ei synny uusia ajatuksia ja innovaatioita. On hyödyllistä oppia ajattelemaan positiivisesti kollegoistaan ja työntekijöistään. Positiivisuus luo positiivisuutta ja rohkeutta uskoa itseensä. Varuillaan olo ei luo uutta. Sanoihan myös Jacob Wallenberg tämän päivän Helsingin Sanomissa (30.10.2017), että meidän tulee uskoa itseemme ja sanoa, että kyllä me pystymme!
Kuva: Paul Huges 2013
The Executive Team may have a good understanding of the market situation and goals that the company should reach for. But do they know what motivates the middle management and rest of the staff? If their decisions are based on wrong assumptions of the drivers, how can they know what the right strategy for the company is and how can the strategy be implemented?
There are ways to find out what the real drivers for the management are such as objective deep interviews and analyses studied and worked with e.g. by Timo Vuori, Assistant Professor in Strategic Management at Aalto University. Also Business Coaching with its powerful questions is an effective method to find out how people see their present role and the requirements by the company and also what they see for them as the best ways forward to reach the company goals. If there is a gap in between the beliefs of the leaders and the middle management, most probably also the planned strategy needs to be changed so that the focus is shifted first to the development of the company culture.
Once the right strategy is found and ready to be launched, it is not sufficient to simply inform the management about it. Latest then, it is worth investing in coaching in the implementation of the changes so that the culture and goals are aligned and shared by the management. The drivers of the managers are not always as rational as the leaders might think. They are often linked to what feels right. Therefore it is a good idea to continue with a coaching leadership management style. “In industry, you can only move with the hearts and minds.” (Sir John Harvey-Jones in David Hemery’s book Sporting Excellence.)
I recently witnessed a wonderful aha moment in a board meeting where the focus had been so targeted to certain areas that the other possibilities were left in the dark, until I, an external board member, asked about them. Once the options become visible to us, we wonder how we did not see them before.
That's what happens to all of us, we see only what we focus on. When we widen the horizon, we see other possibilities instead of the one or two options that our minds have been working on. Easier to be said than done when we are all stressed and trying very hard to know what to do next.
Change to something new or different requires confidence in our ability to take the necessary steps and to utilise the resources we have. Having a conversation with someone can help us see not only other possibilities but also our abilities to reach them.
I myself thought for years that the only thing I could do was to continue to do what I had already been doing for years. I finally made that one a big jump towards something new. It was not an easy decision. I have been very lucky to have a confidant to whom I can speak out my thoughts, doubts and fears and who in return has given his everlasting support and confidence in me.
I see my role as a solution provider, whether I work as a coach, mentor, consultant or a board member; helping my customers to clarify their goals and taking them from where they are now to where they want to be. The value of it is the value of reaching that goal. The journey is a great adventure for both but here unlike in my traveling, the goal is what matters.
It's been a busy week of networking and learning on strategy and board's role in it. Among others, I had the privilege of listening and discussing with speakers such as professor Knut Haanæs from the IMD Business School on Strategy of winning businesses and Mr Fons Trompenaars on organisation success in disruptive world, impact of culture, strategy and execution. The Boston Consulting Group shared some interesting data on the successful strategy implementation and most common factors in failing, according to surveys. These two events were organised by the Directors' Institute of Finland and KPMG for a full houses of Board professionals and leaders.
What I'd like to highlight from these presentations for you is the need for dialogue, welcoming different views, having an external view and challenging the views and ideas of your managers while keeping the strategy discussion active.
A successful company balances the short term exploitation (incl. e.g. efficiency, clarity of directions and productivity focus) and long term exploration (incl. e.g. innovation, flexible adaptation, empowerment, external focus and growth focus) but very few companies master being great in both, like Toyota, according to the studies by IMD. What I've often seen in the board room is the eagerness of the management to explore and grow the business without first fixing the business. This would easily result in spending the limited resources in too many ideas and not gaining solid results. Innovation requires patience and persistence. At the same time we should not take our industry for granted. The businesses develop faster and faster and the strategies need to be reexamined and adjusted to keep up the shifts in the environment that is unpredictable.
I've written in my earlier blog on globalisation, cultural differences and need for clear communication. The same requirement for success was seen in by the studies by the Boston Consulting Group. I liked the fact that they emphasised not only communication and its clarity but also the need to communicate the strategy so that it moves the organisation in their environment.
When defining the strategy, or any decisions, Mr. Trompenaars stressed the importance to move from bi-polar views to combining the opposite views for innovative solutions. The fact remains that people do value a bit different things coming from different cultures, such as the level of prioritising and protecting your family or friends over obeying the rules. Instead of denying this or trying to force the other to accept your views and values, try and see what comes out when you aim to combine the two to reach a solution.
In their book Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, the authors Martin Reeves, Knut Haanæs and Janmejaya Sinha offer a great table of tips and traps to success and failure for leaders. I think it touches upon nicely many of the items highlighted above so here's my short and improvised summary of its highlights for you:
I hope this raised positive ideas and comments with you. You are welcome to share them here. If you'd like to discuss with me, please send a message and I'll be happy to get back to you.
An invitation to a web meeting today made me think of the now so common webinars and web meetings that connect people not only from different teams and companies of the organization but also from different countries and continents. One might think that by now we all speak the same language and share the same understanding, values and goals on business. Just send the invitation with the agenda and everyone gets their 10 minutes!
But I've heard people wonder how very differently from each other even the people from the Nordic countries think and behave, not to mention other countries. I've really enjoyed working and having long conversations with my former Nordic, European, American, Asian, Middle East and Indian colleagues. It has been fun and very educational. But not always easy and straight forward.
It is wonderful that people have the opportunity to discuss and partner across the silos and continents. But do all feel safe and empowered to speak up in those meetings? Do we really understand what the others are saying and why they are acting in a certain way, often surrounded by conflicting expectations by various stakeholders? Do we see the actual drivers and necessities one may have in her local office, perhaps surrounded by a totally different worldview than ours? How do we ensure that the different views are shared and understood? How can we support people in communicating in a way that is understood and seen professional in different cultures? Even in same cultures (and even between family members who know each other better than anyone else!) words and behaviour are so often interpreted in such different ways and wrong assumptions are made.
Short answer: Listen. Ask questions. Make sure you have understood.
I am not worried about AI taking over our work. There will be room and need for collaboration between people requiring communication and presence as well as emotional and social intelligence aside of AI as the technology creates new ways to connect. Do you know on what level your team's communication skills are? What about their emotional and social intelligence? What drives their actions?
The image is of the painting ‘Multicultural’ by the American artist Robert Daniels whose work can be found on Fine Art America.
I just got back from my first ballet class after the long summer break. I was pretty nervous about how it would go. The teacher is a good one, strict about the rules of classical ballet and making us do all the details just right, not half-way, no matter how difficult it is. And that's how we, her class, want it although we are ways outside of our comfort zones. We really want to learn and do it right.
I survived. And I loved it.
In coaching there is a term dancing in the moment used in many coaching models to describe an important skill of a good coach. It means an ability to be fully conscious and flexible, intuitive, in approach according to what shows up in the coaching moment. It is about the coach's presence, or her being as a coach, as it is sometimes also described. It is also about the coach having a variety of tools and approaches that the coach can bring to the coaching sessions so that she can choose the one that is most effective in that moment. The atmosphere created for the coaching sessions is also critical.
Coaching is a great method to answer to the needs of the client. Coaching methods such as the dancing in the moment are helpful in the role of a leader or supervisor in her discussions with the teams and individuals so that she can really see where her team is in terms of its emotions, believes and goals.
In classical ballet there is not much room for coaching discussions but also there the teacher needs to be present and focused to see where the class is with its development and emotions. And the class needs to be fully present and focused to be able to repeat the movements.
One method is not an answer to all needs. Therefore I offer not just coaching but also mentoring, consulting and training. Actually you don't need to know what the method is called. You have a need and for me the driver is to deliver a service that meets that need and brings you a solution.
I used to think that the requirements for success are different in let's say performing arts compared to management in engineering business. The business seemed to need to rely on set processes and control from the top whereas I was sure that in arts much more trust and freedom must be given to allow the performers to take risks, find the best potential in them and shine. Still, I've been surprised to come across so old school views on business even when the world around us has already been saying loud and clear for years that employees must be trusted, believed in and encouraged to take responsibility. Actually this can be the case even when the company strategy say all those beautiful things. Sure, things can be discussed but the views must be heard and taken into account. There are still managers who think that they have the time and reason to control how, where and when the work is done and ignore the voice of wisdom from below. Some leaders are grinning on requests for training or self development or even to the suggestion to stand up, not to mention walk, during a full day meeting. People, do stand up anyway!
People need to trust themselves in what they are doing to be successful. The company, i.e. the supervisor, need to trust them as well. The Managers and Leaders of the company have succeeded in their role when they've enabled the people of the company to feel that they can take risks, fail, learn and succeed. In other words, be motivated and excited about what they are doing because they feel they are trusted, important and believed in.
I have just published these web pages around the newly founded Intu Coaching and I am really excited to start its operations. You can read about the reasons and goals for founding Intu from here. Basically, I've seen some good leadership and management and I've seen some bad one. I've seen what happens when the need for change is ignored or is done in a big scale without hearing the interest groups such as the skilled people working for the organisation.
Right after the publishing of these pages, I read an interesting interview at Helsingin Sanomat of Tero J Kauppinen, a highly experienced business leadership consultant. It nicely resonated with what I'd just been thinking and writing on these pages. He emphasised the need by the leaders to constantly question their leadership patterns and to be interested in new ideas while keeping the focus on the big picture on corporation's goals. The interviewer was surprised that this senior consultant with customers on Wall Street had such critical views on quarterly reporting. I am not. I've seen the struggle in many board rooms and executive teams to answer to the expectations of the shareholders while at the same time trying to keep the focus on goals. As Kauppinen put it: The quarterly reporting makes the leaders of the company to look at the audience, not the ball.
I also agree with Mr. Kauppinen that the purpose of a corporation by law to create value for its owners is not sufficient alone in today's world. You do need to take into account also the people inside and outside of the corporation, the nature and much more. The company must have ethical standards and corporate responsibility in making profit.
Seeing today's exciting new trends on how work and corporate responsibility is seen, I hope Intu Coaching can do its part in supporting the corporations and leaders to get there.
The full article is found at hs.fi and was published on 6.8.2017.