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.
 
Conclusion
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  
doing?”  
 
References
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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2020

The PCB Norsemen: Leadership Styles for Success

08-18-2020

Leadership is the foundation of a successful business. Elmatica CEO Didrik Bech looks deeper into the various styles of leadership and shares his experiences and opinions.

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PCB Norsemen: The Importance of Quality Management

06-19-2020

Most companies have a quality management system, but the important factor is not if you have one; it's about how that system is implemented in your company's values, strategies, and goals. Didrik Bech explains how you can use your QMS as a competitive advantage and shares five top reasons for having one.

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The PCB Norsemen: It’s All About Being Prepared

05-15-2020

COVID-19, known globally by now, and buzzwords like social distancing, isolation, home office, antibac, and lockdowns, are humming in every ear. Raymond Goh explores how this will impact the electronics industry and how to respond. Humans tend to stick to habits. Will the same happen to PCB production?

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The PCB Norsemen: Can Better Guidelines on Cosmetic Failures ‘Save’ Functioning PCBs?

05-05-2020

Every year, fully functional PCBs are scrapped due to cosmetic “failures” that are not approved. Is this right, or do we need to make an even more precise set of rules on how to handle this? Jan Pedersen shares his thoughts on the issue.

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The PCB Norsemen: What Are the True Benefits of Going Digital?

04-06-2020

2019 might have been the year when the trend word digitalization really kicked off and transitioned from being a buzzword to aligning with keywords and concepts as AI and IoT. Didrick Bech explores the future of digitization, which is already here.

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The PCB Norsemen: Automotive Standard Elevates the Excellence of Electronics

01-19-2020

IPC-6012DA (currently in WAM1) was the first automotive standard for printed boards; it also needs to expand to cover all types of rigid printed boards. To meet the PCB needs in the automotive industry of today and tomorrow, we have started to collect information and identify the types of printed boards not covered by the existing standard. One finding in the research is printed boards used for LED headlights and taillights, which have two requirements not covered; these are described as metal-core printed boards and high-power printed boards.

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The PCB Norsemen: New Trends in the PCB Industry at productronica 2019

01-02-2020

Working with PCB technology and standardization as I do, it is always interesting to see the new trends and where the PCB industry is moving. Changes tend to happen at a slow pace; still, I visited productronica this year for dedicated meetings and expected to learn about new processes and production equipment. What hit me was the different manufacturing focus between Asia and Europe. 5G applications and smartphones—both making an impact in the news as a high focus in Asia, where most of the production is placed—were hardly mentioned at productronica 2019. However, I picked up on other new trends in the PCB industry.

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2019

The Laminate Market: What Will the Future Bring?

11-04-2019

PCBs have been manufactured more or less the same way since we entered the industry in 1972, but the circumstances surrounding the boards have changed. The PCB Norsemen have addressed the copper situation several times in our columns as well as the component crisis affecting the PCB industry. Now, we’re experiencing external factors—such as Brexit and the trade restrictions between China and the U.S.—that are affecting the industry and causing delays due to raw material demand and prioritization by huge market players.

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The PCB Norsemen: Avoid Failures in PCB Production With Compliance Control

08-08-2019

Failures and reliability in the printed circuit industry are usually considered in the context of quality claims and non-conformity. This is a logical approach; however, there is a new context where these aspects are under close scrutiny, namely compliance—especially in the defense industry. Failing to understand import and export compliance for every country you deliver to and from will, at some point, result in challenges in your supply chain with potentially severe ramifications.

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The PCB Norsemen: From Wooden Huts to Homemade Go-karts—It All Starts With Design!

07-08-2019

Whether building the coolest go-kart or the most sophisticated electronic hardware, the story is the same: It starts with design. And for designers and manufacturers, early involvement and commitment between all the involved parties in a product development process diminish the risk for mistakes and misunderstandings.

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What Is Reliability Without Traceability?

06-27-2019

High reliability and compliance are hot topics at conferences all over the world. If you are a supplier to industries like defense, automotive, medical, and aerospace/space, high-reliability and regulatory compliance are strict demands for electronic device manufacturers. This column discusses how high-reliability demands enforce the need for traceability, and at what level the traceability should be.

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The PCB Norsemen: Merging the Best of Both Worlds—Young Superheroes and Knowledgeable Wizards!

05-29-2019

Companies that dare be true to themselves, trust their employees, and provide direction, freedom, and responsibility to their most important asset—namely, their employees—are more likely to succeed. However, we can all rattle behind these positive words and agree with these statements. The real question is, “How do you actually create and sustain an environment that motivates and attracts people—especially millennials—in the wave of Industry 4.0?"

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The PCB Norsemen: My Flexible Story—Flex Circuit Development Through the Decades

04-30-2019

Senior Technical Advisor Jan Pedersen is celebrating 26 years at Elmatica. In this column, he shares his thoughts from his long experience in this exciting industry, and talks about those things that have changed a lot in the past few decades, and the others that haven't.

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A PCB Broker’s Guide Through the Galaxy of Automation

04-05-2019

A smart factory is defined by its ability to harness manufacturing data flowing throughout the enterprise and then convert that data into intelligent information that can be used to create improvements in productivity, efficiency, savings, yields, automation, enabled traceability, compliance, and reduced risk of errors and rework. All of these items are crucial factors when manufacturing printed circuits.

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The PCB Norsemen: Technology’s Future Comes Together—A Great Slogan for Us All!

02-13-2019

“Technology’s Future Comes Together” was the theme of this year's IPC APEX EXPO, which is quite suitable during these changing times. I guess we all need to come together, especially the automotive industry.

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The PCB Norsemen: PCB Standards for Medical Device Applications—A Hard Nut to Crack!

02-04-2019

With digitalization, AI, and IoT, the traceability and transparency to how a PCB is produced will be even more important. We must rule out the PCBs that follow the standards to the ones that do not. The day will come when you or someone you know might need a medical device, and you want to make sure it does its job correctly.

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2018

Digital Specs for Automated Manufacturing: Find the Missing Link!

11-29-2018

Automation and connected smart factories are the new manufacturing trend. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things (IoT) continue to enter PCB manufacturing. However, if we continue down the same path with specifications and requirements written on electronic papers and unintelligent production files, human interpretation is still crucial to avoid mistakes. CircuitData could solve this problem because having one language for automated smart factories is the future!

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PCB Norsemen: The Solution to the UL Challenge—Industrial Awareness

08-28-2018

Writes Jan Pedersen: The solder-limit subject has been a "hot potato" for a quite some time, with many discussions around the new requirement from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that UL’s Emma Hudson brought to attention in early 2018.

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The PCB Norsemen: Lean Challenges—Standard vs. Non-Standard Products

08-06-2018

Writes Didrick Bech: People tend to treat standard and non-standard products in the same way; however, they represent two parallel product segments and consequently different challenges for your Lean manufacturing process, especially in relation to production and logistical operations. When you fail to differentiate the processing of standard and non-standard products, not only is the Lean manufacturing process disrupted, but you also introduce a variety of production, financial and logistical challenges.

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The Velocity of Technology— What Does It Really Mean?

07-02-2018

PCB Norseman, Jan Pedersen: Driving a car is probably one of the areas where the user comes in direct touch with the technology development. And we understand the speed when we see how fast we get new versions of smartphones and other gadgets. But in what direction are we going?

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2017

Industry 4.0, AI and CircuitData

11-14-2017

PCB Norseman, Andreas Lydersen: As automation works its way onto the shop floors, it still struggles to replace humans in the supporting roles, such as designers, purchasers, brokers, and back-office staff. Where automation on the shop floor replaces humans in doing repetitive manual tasks, the supporting roles (at least some of them) require intelligence to understand and utilise information.

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