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Navigating our leadership journey


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My presentation in a knowledge sharing session of Tieto Young Professionals in August 2013. I was asked to open the conversation by sharing my thoughts about leadership. Tough assignment. I decided to share something really personal. I revealed my biggest mistakes and failures as a leader. And of course lessons learned and what impact these mistakes have had on me.

Published in: Business, Education

Navigating our leadership journey

  1. 1. ©2012TietoCorporation
  2. 2. ©2012TietoCorporationPresentation for Tieto Young Professionals community. I shared selected moments frommy own leadership journey to reflect the themes I consider to be most important for meas a leader. Most of them are small daily moments and some more dramatic. All of themare very emotional experiences having a lifetime impact on me. I think hearing andsharing stories is important for our growth. Storytelling, anyway, is one of the mostancient learning methods.The stories I decided to share are my biggest failures as a leader. I tried to describewhat I learned by doing those mistakes and how they worked as roadsigns for me while Ihave navigated my leadership journey.
  3. 3. © 2011 Tieto Corporation3 2011-12-28Profession and positiongiven by other managersNo leader withoutfollowersI started with this: this is how I see the difference between a Manager and a Leader.Manager is a profession and position. When you work as a manager you learn andapply a certain toolbox and skillset to administrate and manage things. Methology andprocesses.Leader, instead, is a person who is followed. Leader also creates more leaders. Theleader as a person is rarely followed because of his or her personality. Usually it is thepurpose and passion that the leader carries in his heart that is followed and that alsoacts as a starting point for new leaders.
  4. 4. © 2011 Tieto Corporation4 2011-12-28Organizing people’s skills toenable a sequence of activitiesin order to meet the targets.Amplifying peoples emotions tostart action in order to make adream come true.Management is a job. It is quite much fact based decision making. It includesmethodologies and processes to organize and administrate things to get the results.Management focuses on people’s skills and productivity.Leadership is a way of being that creates passion and purpose to be followed. It focuseson people’s emotions and passion and aims at making dreams come true.There are 1M definitions for management and leadership if you search Google. These aremy own.
  5. 5. © 2011 Tieto Corporation5 2011-12-28First stories I shared were about making a decisionor acting in a way that is against your own values.I’ve done this twice, big time, as a manager and inmy private life. It hurted me and other peopleespecially. Result was a lifetime nightmare for meand theser people. Failing like this I learned that:1) never make a decision against your own valueseven if you need to violate the rules2) if you need to break the rules constantly itshows an evidence that company values are notaligned with yours3) ”Values” are #1 on leader’s priority list
  6. 6. © 2011 Tieto Corporation6 2011-12-28Then I shared another mistake I’ve done several times: notbeing (emotionally) present in people’s daily life. SometimesI’ve failed to be there, as a leader, for people working inanother location. Back then, it really felt bad for those people.Luckily they shared their thoughts and feelings with me after awhile. So I learned1) Keep your focus on the people who are not physicallyclose to you, communicate, be with them every day2) Further they were, more you need to focus on them3) ”Presence” is #2 on leader’s priority list
  7. 7. © 2011 Tieto Corporation7 2011-12-28Another failure. I once led a team where I thought one persondidn’t fit into our team. As a manager I did something reallystupid. I started to exclude the person from everything we did.Worst thing is that that person was obviously very skilled,more skilled in that environment than me or other people inthe team. I just didn’t like the person and I thought others feltthe same on their behalf. I acted ugly. That person nevershared his thoughts or feelings but that didn’t prevent me fromre-learning what Jack Welch has said:1) ”Diversity is the source of all success”2) ”Equality” AND ”Diversity” are #3 on the priority list
  8. 8. © 2011 Tieto Corporation8 2011-12-28Once, in a development discussion, I got a feedback from oneof my people: ”Matti, your job is to be here with us and for us– your team – not for your boss and other managers!” Yes. Ihad failed to focus on my team and had started to use mytime and energy to please my boss. That feedback was aneyeopener and I learned1) Give 99.9 % from your energy to your followers and use0.1 % to educate your boss (educate not please)2) Pleasing your boss might boost your career short term butone day you realize that you are in an executive positionbut you do not have any real followers3) #4 in priority list is to use your energy for the benefit ofyour followers
  9. 9. © 2011 Tieto Corporation9 2011-12-28It took me years to accept that I’m not the brightest guy in the room. It took me evenlonger to realize that I don’t have to be. When I got a management position Iimmediately started to act as if I automatically was the alpha of any group. I soughtrole models from the managers who were acting like alpha males and I trieddesperately to copy their style. I disliked the ”shy” leaders who did not rule theirempires in a fashionable manner. This is my most long lasting failure as a leader. Onlyrecently, supported by my coach and other people I have discovered that1) Leadership doesn’t require that you are the alpha male in the room, sometimesyou are sometimes you’re not2) Great leaders are followed and they can lead even if someone else is acting as analpha in the group3) Priority #5 is to fight your own ego to give room for true empathy
  10. 10. © 2011 Tieto Corporation10 2011-12-28I couldn’t find any particular story about this. It is more like aphenomenon I have learned to fight against: culture that isbased on asking permission. Letting that flourish is a realinnovation and motivation killer in any company.1) Leadership (right there, on the spot) doesn’t require thatyou go and ask for a permission to act2) Followership (right there, on the spot) doesn’t require thatyou go and ask for a permission to act3) #6 in the priority list is constant empowerment anddelegation of power
  11. 11. © 2011 Tieto Corporation11 2011-12-28Love... is fiery passion, intimate mental and physical proximityembracing the two without any kind of obstacles in between. It is aboutultimate joy of taking care of someone, giving protection and shelteras well as encouragement and endless inspiration. It is about respectingand forgiving. Love... is the ultimate force that no other force,not even death, can subdue.At this point of my leadership journey Ihave discovered these 3 cornerstonesthat lay the foundations of myleadership.
  12. 12. © 2011 Tieto Corporation12 2011-12-28Leadership... is fiery passion, intimate mental, emotionaland physical proximity embracing us without any kind of obstacles in between.It is about ultimate joy of taking care of people, giving protectionand support as well as encouragement and endless mutual inspiration.It is about dreaming of and acting towards a shared purpose.Leadership... is the ultimate way of focusing our energy to a purposewith such an intensity that no other force can stop us.
  13. 13. The most precious but also the most heart-breaking moment in my life as a leaderis when I sense that my leadership is no longer needed.My job is done. For now.Source
  14. 14. © 2011 Tieto Corporation14 2011-12-28Matti Vesalamatti.vesala@tieto.comTwitter: @mkvesala