This speed and complexity challenge the way we structure and lead our organisations, and it is a challenge that is top of mind for all CEOs. The same speed and complexity are perhaps also some of the reasons why our employees today are not simply satisfied with interesting job tasks and career development. They seek meaning with their work. They seek purpose. They want to feel that they are part of a greater good in a world where we are finally beginning to see that we need to pull together to go in the right direction.

So where does that leave you as leader?

The good news is that I would argue that, as leaders in Nordic companies, we have a built-in advantage in our DNA that can help us overcome these challenges. Because many of the answers to the challenges facing us today are in the way we lead our organisation and in our people.

Nordic leadership is very much about flat hierarchies, ethical values and autonomous employees willing and able to think and act independently. And these are the very things that will enable your organisation as a whole to sense and respond to the constant inflow of new information and new technological opportunities.

Your task as a leader is to ensure a meaningful purpose for all and then empower your people (and yourself) to navigate according to this purpose. Involve your people in the development of your organisation and accept the fact that there is simply not enough brainpower on the executive floor alone to sense and respond to the rapid inflow of new opportunities and challenges. You need everybody on board.

It is all about enabling your organisation to exist in a state of permanent readiness to be able to navigate in the unprecedented complexity and volumes of information that we are facing today.

I recognise that this is easier said than done. I would recommend that you begin by ensuring that your organisational platform is in order. You need robustness in the sense of simplicity in governance, structures and processes, clarity in roles and responsibilities and effectiveness in deliveries. Otherwise, efforts and energy are wasted on inefficient procedures and methods; energy that would be better spent on innovation and development.

More importantly, you need to constantly balance your organisational robustness with your organisational adaptivity. You need robustness but not rigidity.

This balancing act will be my recipe for success in 2020.


(This article was originally published in Nordic Business Magazine (1) 2020)