Globalisation and digitalization in today’s world strongly influences the requirements of modern and up-to-date leadership. In Finland, education is seen as a virtue in itself and 30% of the adult population has an academic degree. The current and especially the future generations are well informed about trends and developments. Most youngsters have travelled and seen multiple countries and regions before turning 18. Digital services, including social media, have become a global network and continue to develop fast. Google provides the answer in nanoseconds to the questions your boss cannot answer. In essence, the population on average has never been as knowledgeable about the world as it is today in the Nordic countries.
Historically Finnish companies have been run single-mindedly and with the following business logic: more of the same – and bigger. The focus has been on product development instead of service development.
Increasing international competition combined with increased transparency through digitalization makes the previous strategy less and less functional. There is very little room for mediocracy to hide.
Lateral thinking will become a necessity in the survival tool kit; and in many industries it already is. Successful companies have to generate solutions with a good blend of product superiority and distinctive service – thereby tightening the client relationship rather than losing it in the price war. It’s a tough and brutal war zone where someone always has a bigger bazooka and yet your own army consists of very different decision makers. Average age in the Finnish boards of large enterprises is 62. Average age of the CEO is 51 and ExCom member 49. Your young soldiers again master your tanks before they are delivered to you – skills generated by the gaming industry.
How do you successfully lead people of different generations where values are very different from each other? The Y generation is brought up in prosperity whereas the Chairmen remember well the Iron curtain.
All above-mentioned dimensions have an impact on today’s successful CEO. Not the easiest playground. The modern CEO needs to be a chameleon but in an honest way and with capacity to change the colour based on the environment. The Chairman is likely to expect different leadership from you than the young and very bright MBA graduate. Still it is in everyone’s interest to seamlessly work together.
One could say that there have always been differences between generations. And luckily so. That is why the world develops and for most part for the better. The major difference now compared to the past is that the future generation is much more mobile. If they don’t get the respect they feel they deserve, they move on to the start-up next door or to the next continent as their English is flawless and they team up with strangers before dawn.
Hopefully Future CEO 2016 will shed some more light on the modern CEO as data is collected both from the board, CEO-1 level as well as students entering business life. There’s no reason to accept Human capital flight (brain drain) from Finland, let’s work towards the opposite instead.