Growth with modern leadership

Work life and people’s attitude towards working is changing. Phenomena, such as the diversity of the labour force and different expectations about work, the polarization of groups and values, the change in competition, multi-locality, network-type operations and diverse earning logics, and, on the other hand, the opportunities created by digitalization and automatization are constantly shaping our operational environment.

Previously, the nature of work was more routine and repetitive and therefore easier to teach, control, and monitor. Now creative expertise and independent decision making are emphasized in many fields. Routine work performed by people is disappearing. According to a study by McKinsey (5/2017), 5% of work roles can be fully (100%) automated, and, in the case of over half
of the professions (60%), 30% of the work can be automated. This change, which may feel like a threat at first, is actually a great opportunity. Particularly experts expect their work to be meaningful, and so the meaning of freedom, responsibility, and occupational well-being is increasing. Work is performed through encounters, collaboration, and networks, and modern technology enables decentralized structures which would be challenging to maintain without it.

Talent Vectia wanted to explore how the matters that are currently bringing about a considerable competitive advantage, i.e., the meaningfulness of work, the ability to innovate, and network-type operations, are realized in Finnish companies and organizations. The results are encouraging, and they also show that leadership and leadership competence are issues worth working on in future, as well.

Genuine joint development is based on the courage to provide personnel with the freedom and authorization for development. In future, innovation will be an even more intensive process in which the collective intelligence of the work community is utilized.”

A MEANINGFUL DIRECTION. What was notable about the survey was that 95% of the respondents felt that their work had some greater meaning and a clear purpose. The meaningfulness of work is a key factor for occupational well-being and motivation, and in this light the results of the survey are very positive. Experiencing meaningfulness in what you do correlates strongly with employee and client experience. However, meaningfulness alone is not enough. It is critical for the success of the organization that each employee has understood their own role in implementing strategy. The results suggested that this is an area that still requires work, as 30% of the respondents felt that not all employees in their organization had internalized their own role regarding strategy. Similarly, 20% of the respondents felt that not all the employees in their organization knew what the expectations regarding their own role and work were. Whether the employees regard the strategy as meaningful and whether they have internalized their own role strongly correlates with the profitability of the organization. Ongoing dialogue is, in fact, a critical tool in ensuring the profitability of organizations.

INNOVATION is undisputedly a vital necessity these days. Innovation agility and the ability and courage to challenge the business models and earning logics typical of one’s own industry are the cornerstones of success. According to the survey respondents, personal development and a risk-taking attitude are highly valued in organizations (cf. the courage to challenges one’s own industry). The survey demonstrated that as many as 45% of respondents think that no one dares to share blunders and mistakes openly in their organizations.

In addition, 38% of respondents feel that failure is not allowed in their organization. Innovation requires a bold experimental corporate culture, transparency, and openness. In light of the survey results, generating trust to support the creation of an experimental corporate culture is a key theme in which the organizations of today should invest. On the basis of the survey, the genuine ability of Finnish organizations to reflect and learn by doing gives us concern. More than half of the respondents thought that operations and actions are reflected on and that the direction is changed in an agile way when necessary.

NETWORK-TYPE OPERATIONS. For the part of networks, 82% of respondents feel that various internal and external networks are utilized efficiently in their organizations. It is, however, clear that operating in networks is more relevant for top management than the other roles in the organization. This also suggests that it has more to do with networking than strategic network-type operations that create competitive advantage. In addition, according to our survey, the utilization of diversity and putting varying views into effective use are not yet established practices in organizations. Of the respondents, 68% think that these are not yet sufficiently utilized. In order for network-type operations to be genuinely profitable and enable, e.g., diverse earning logics, the organizations must invest more extensively in this area in connection with their strategic planning. We already have good examples of this from some Finnish organizations, but there is still room for more.

How can growth be achieved with modern leadership?

As diverse global factors are shaping jobs, the labour force, and work itself, it is critical for organizations to create a corporate culture that is based on collaboration, creative thinking, and empowerment. A network-type working culture based on joint development requires a pro-growth attitude, an agile corporate culture of experimentation, and innovative and inclusive management practices. Genuine joint development is based on the courage to provide the personnel with the freedom and empowerment for development.

In future, innovation will be an even more intensive process in which collective intelligence of the work community is utilized. This collective intelligence also best predicts the community’s performance. Agile experimentation and cross-border network-type joint development also challenges strategic thinking and the ways of doing and implementing things in the organization. The backbone of an agile organization is both strong and flexible at the same time, and the operating principles, objectives, distribution of power and responsibility, and principles of joint participation which constitute it are commonly agreed upon. Efforts are made towards a common goal while trusting and respecting others and managing oneself.

Agile organization forms the basis for innovation capability. It creates the feel of ownership and enables self-management. The maintenance of competitiveness and smart growth require extensive inclusion in creative thinking and innovation activities. This, on the other hand, enhances the experience of meaningfulness on an individual level and thus increases employee happiness and occupational well-being. According to the Confederation of Finnish Industries, one day of absence due to sickness costs 350 euros per employee. What could you do today to increase meaningfulness and happiness in your organization?

Strategy-driven development of the organization’s capabilities and competencies can bring in significant business benefits.