Scandinavian management style more sought-after during the Covid-19 pandemic
Covid-19 is creating long-lasting changes to business and industry and the view of what constitutes a good leader. A new international survey shows that 'the world' now values leaders who are clearly empathetic and are tolerant of failure.
The report shows that leaders need to balance traditional management qualities with ‘softer’ characteristics in the wake of Covid-19, a style which is often dubbed ‘Scandinavian’. Strategy and results are still important, but qualities such as empathy, resilience and communication skills are more valued than before the pandemic.
The majority of the respondents (87 per cent) stated that the pandemic has seriously affected their jobs and teams, and they believe the changes will be long-lasting. A quarter of respondents believed the changes would be permanent.
The survey was carried out by the international network CEMS Global Alliance, which comprises 34 leading business schools, including NHH.
‘The Corona crisis has forced us all to work and cooperate in new ways, and with that comes new demands of leaders and management teams. It's interesting to see how the survey emphasises leadership qualities that contribute to giving employees a sense of security in their work situation and underlines characteristics we are very familiar with in Scandinavia,’ says CEMS Academic Director at NHH Jan I. Haaland.
Psychological safety a must
The report shows that leaders to a greater extent must create a sense of psychological safety among the staff in order for them to thrive in their jobs, master working under pressure and be productive and innovative. They must create a safe environment in which there is room to make mistakes.
Psychological safety means that you feel free to share your ideas, fears and questions. The concept and tool is widely used in research on teams and management, and by businesses and organisations the world over looking to make their teams more effective.
PhD candidate Bård Fyhn at the Norwegian School of Economics is looking into how psychological safety is developed in teams. He believes that psychological safety is particularly important in situations characterised by learning and uncertainty, which there have been plenty of during the pandemic.
‘Need Leaders who allow mistakes’
‘To keep going in uncertain situations and constantly have to deal with changes in our surroundings is demanding. More than ever, we need leaders who allow fallibility and who make themselves available. Teams that have focused on close cooperation and contact during the pandemic have maintained their sense of security to a greater extent than others,’ says Fyhn.
The survey shows the shift in characteristics deemed attractive in leaders before and during the Coronavirus pandemic. Strategic vision has fallen from 74 per cent to 68 per cent and results orientation from 58 per cent to 49 per cent. Empathy has increased from 38 per cent to 43 per cent and resilience from 13 to 34 per cent.
Report: Leadership in a Post-Covid-19 World
- Conducted by CEMS Global Alliance, a global alliance of 34 business schools and universities collaborating with over 68 multi-national corporations.
- In total there were 1,711 respondents, alumni and CEMS corporate partners from 71 countries. Respondents came from a very broad diversity of industries and sectors including consulting, technology, financial services and consumer goods.
- 1425 respondents from Europe, 87 respondents from North America, 48 respondents from Central and South America, 13 respondents from Africa, 29 respondents from Middle East, 93 respondents from Asia and 16 from Australia and New Zealand.
Three recommendations for leaders
- The pandemic has created unprecedented uncertainty. Team members face more pressures than ever.
- Be tolerant of failure and reframe it as learning.
- Encourage an entrepreneurial mindset in others: empower your people to experiment, to try new approaches and to build new skills.
Work on yourself
- Prioritise self-reflection. Ask yourself critical questions: what is my style, what are my values, and do my people feel respected, valued, trusted by me?
- Do I micro-manage or give people the space to experiment, learn and grow?
- Articulate your purpose as a leader and your goals for your organisation. Identify your strengths. Determine one or two core areas for improvement.
Create a safe culture and environment
- Identify the challenges your team members face working from home: are they juggling children or pets?
- Model transparency, accessibility, tolerance and empathy in all your communications and interactions with your people – and expect it from others.