A bridge between soft skills and hard business
His years of experience in top companies form the foundation of Sydänmaanlakka’s books on ‘The intelligent organisation,’ ‘Intelligent Leadership’ and ‘Intelligent self-leadership.’ After his time at Nokia Worldwide as HR-director, Sydänmaanlakka started his own consultancy firm, Pertec Consulting Oy. Previous to that he took on several different executive positions at Nixdorf, Siemens, Kone and VIA Group. He has wide international experience in HR and was chairman to the Finnish Association of Human Resource Management.
“In the complex, globalised and fast evolving world of today, old management systems no long suffice,” Pentti Sydänmaanlakka suggests. “The balance between efficiency and wellbeing at the workplace is a necessary motor for innovation and creativity and thus needs to be part of a new form of leadership. Organisations often still focus to much on efficiency alone. Now those organisations and their environment are constantly susceptible to a number of different changes, they have to strive for continuous renewal in order to guarantee the same efficiency tomorrow. The wellbeing of the employees is a crucial element in realizing that.”
Efficiency in the long run
In 1995, Nokia started a wellbeing project, a theme the Fins play a pioneering role in. “We had the idea that we needed to work on the long term efficiency of our employees. To quickly respond to a fast evolving world, you not only need your employees to be creative and innovative, they also need to feel good about themselves. Just try thinking out new things when on the verge of a burn-out! We also discovered that innovative-mindedness and creativity are more than individual characteristics and that they only reach their true potential when working in a team.”
To Sydänmaanlakka, leadership is a collective process. The time a manager merely gave out orders to his employees, is behind us. A workplace superior does not always posses the same knowledge as his subordinates and therefore needs to give his subordinates room to develop.
Consequently, Sydänmaanlakka differentiates between several levels of leadership: “First of all, there is the organisational side of things where one has to see to basic processes running smoothly. Next to that, one has to be able to manage their networks and be able to lead individuals and groups but also networks and multicultural teams. A third level is self management, the primary condition for good leadership. In order to lead others, you need to know yourself; you need to know your weaknesses and your strengths and be able to manage them.”
The tendency towards a rather more inspiring than controlling form of leadership is very strong within the Y-generation, who’s expectations differ greatly from their predecessors. Today’s youth don’t want someone just telling them what to do but seek participation and balance. The generation who grew up with internet is less competitive than the previous, and views knowledge and skills less as private property. Lack of knowledge is no longer an issue to them because internet is inundating us with it. “Much more than information, a thorough understanding and synopsis have become rare goods. The internet generation doesn’t feel the same need to dig deep and thoroughly understand the essence of something. This, however, does have its risks because real expertise is something you can only reach by working for a long time on one particular theme.”