The Nordic Leadership event 14th of March, 2018

Nordic Leadership – Event Summary

On March 14th 2018, the Finnish Business Council, the Danish Business Association, the Norwegian Business Association and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a joint leadership event at the Regent Hotel in Singapore.

The topic was “Return of The Vikings – Nordic Leadership in Times of Extreme Change”, based on the book by the same title, co-authored by guest speaker Mr Chris Shern. In addition to being an author and experienced leader, Mr Shern is the Managing Director at IME – Foundation for International Management Education.

Mr Shern has, through numerous interviews with a large number of Nordic leaders, found what he believes to be common traits between them. When compiling the information, he found that these themes could be traced back to the mentality of the Viking age, when Norsemen ventured the world by its seas and rivers. The recurring topics were the ones listed in what is commonly known as the Vikings’ Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Truth/Trust, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness and Perseverance.

To further explore into the topic, four diverse panellists were invited to share their views and personal experiences of Nordic leadership: Mr Horst Wasel (Atlas Copco), Ms Minna Rouru (KONE), Ms Sigrid Margrethe Schrødter Teig (formerly Western Bulk) and Mr Søren Kvorning (Danfoss). The panel discussion was facilitated by moderator Mr Daryl Dunbar.

During the panel discussion, some of the key hallmarks mentioned for “Nordic leadership” was keeping a low power-distance, having an outside-in mentality, and managing with compassion. Typical traits were having a “cool head, warm heart and clean hands” and letting employees know that “you don’t work for me – I work for you”. However, are these really signs of a “Nordic leadership style”, or just a modern leadership style? This seemed to be the recurring question in this panel, with high levels of audience interaction.

Another interesting point of view was how we plan differently now. Whereas leaders used to plan projects from start to finish, managers now only strategize for 60-80% of the project timeline – as we have become more adaptable to changes, we have a higher understanding of unforeseen circumstances occurring, and we mould projects more to the skillsets of the team.

We also elaborated on how leadership will develop in the future when digitalisation and artificial intelligence gets more and more influence in the workplace. The conclusion was that the only thing we can get better at is being human – because being human is the only thing robots can never beat us at.

As a final learning point, it was noted that to secure diversity in the workplace, we should focus on lifting each other up, perhaps particularly those employees who are less outspoken than ourselves.

FBCS, DABS, NABS and SwedCham would like to thank Mr Shern, Mr Dunbar, Mr Wasel, Ms Rouru, Ms Teig and Mr Kvorning for an educational and inspirational evening on Nordic (or modern) leadership!

We would also like to use this opportunity to show our gratitude towards the event sponsors; DNB, Nordea, SEB, AEE and Neste Engineering Solutions Oy. Thanks to ongoing support from our sponsors, we are able to develop a vibrant and ever-evolving Nordic business network in Singapore.

The event was the first joint event co-hosted by all four Nordic business organisations in Singapore, but it certainly will not be the last.