The PCB Norsemen: Leadership Styles for Success

Didrik_Bech.jpgLeadership is the foundation of a successful business, but how do you define it? Leadership has various definitions, depending on where you are in the world. The range of leadership 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” [1].
Leadership Styles
What styles of leadership are there, and what type do you use? Leadership styles are often attributed to a situation or circumstance a company is encompassed in. Here are five key leadership styles[2]:

  1. Autocratic: All decision-making powers are centralized in the leader. 
  2. Democratic: The leader shares the decision-making abilities with group members.
  3. Laissez-faire: Decision-making passed  
on to subordinates with the right and  
power to make decisions to establish goals and work out the problems or hurdles. 
  4. Task-oriented: Are generally more  
concerned with producing a step-by-step  
solution for a given problem or goal, strictly making sure these deadlines are met, and results and target outcomes  
are reached.
  5. Parental: The structure of the team is  
organized hierarchically, where the leader is viewed above the followers.

The Art and Science of Leadership
The definition of leadership and leadership styles depends on where and when you were raised, your education, and the financial, technological, and cultural situation where one is executing leadership. To draw a parallel between leadership and creating and maintaining a successful business, both have an element of art and science to them. 
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 economic value for my colleagues and shareholders—the ultimate judgment of this shall be bestowed on 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. 
Personal Leadership
When I had the privilege of joining Elmatica in 2011, I was to become the third CEO in the past 40 years. One key aspect at that time was to modernize, digitalize, and further internationalize the company. This constitutes a change, and change is not always welcomed, even though everybody considers it crucial. 
The leadership style I believe in would be called personal leadership, which is described as a combination of democratic and task- 
oriented leadership. It emphasizes creating psychological capital [3], challenging and supporting people to live more productive and meaningful lives, and helping them realize their potential.
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.
Today’s Leaders
Many of the challenges of today’s leaders 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.
With new technology, social media, and constant and immediate access to information, a leader should no longer stay put in their corner office. Changes happen faster than before, and every leader needs to be in the field with their colleagues, fighting the same battles and leading the way by doing, not just saying. They should nurture psychological capital and further develop it.
Are You a Boss or a Leader?
For me, leadership starts with how you refer to it. The naming of the role is not a random choice. I do not want to be perceived as just “the boss;” instead, I want to be perceived as the leader. I wish to inspire others to be leaders, which starts with addressing the people I represent as colleagues. 
Being a leader in any position is to take control and develop one’s responsibilities on both a business and a personal level. Understanding what you like and what you want in the context of the organization’s requirements will allow you to transform your initiative into creative energy, which creates value for you and your company. Those who do not seek to explore their potential and push the boundaries of their existence will not have the pleasure and honor of understanding what they deserve and have to give.
The True Joy of Being a Leader
While many seem to believe that leadership is about deciding and delegating, for me it is about enabling colleagues with trust, support, and responsibility. It means supporting 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 a strategy for the decision that led to failure. We learn much more from our failures than our successes, and nothing should be more gratifying to a leader than seeing one’s colleagues and friends develop and improve. This is one of the true joys of being a leader. 

One Thing That 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 one’s position and “take rights” one does not have.
Thus, it is 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 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 Look for in a Leader
Creating and maintaining a successful business is impossible in the long run without proper leadership. It is challenging to find, attract, and retain leaders who seemingly create success after success, while protecting and safeguarding the individual colleague and shareholders.
My advice when searching for your new leader is to take your time to get to know them and let them get to know the company. Look beyond the academic background of the individual to understand who they are, what makes them “tick,” and their emotional realm, as emotions govern reason and not the other way around.[4] 
As a rule of thumb, you should, at minimum, spend 70% of your time in any interview learning about the candidate’s upbringing, morals, life philosophy, and other highly emotional thoughts and considerations. Creating trust and loyalty begins at the first encounter, and emotional capital will be the premise for this exchange.
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 where they are currently residing and respect their boundaries. By doing so, a great leader can access one’s personal emotional capital to establish contact, as well as 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 of leadership and business. 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, with the same strategy and goal as the leader. 
Finally, ask yourself, “What kind of leader am I? What kind of organization do I work in, and how is the leader of that organization  
1. Wikipedia, “Leadership.”
2. Wikipedia, Leadership Styles.”
3. Wikipedia, “Positive Psychological Capital.”
4. Wikipedia, “Arne Næss.”

This column originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine.



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