The Wall Street Crash Of 2008 took everybody by surprise. Highly intelligent executives and analysts shifted their focus from real economy, from people and their productivity, towards a speculative economy. Loan packages triggered horrifically complex securities, which lead to ever more hazardous financial instruments. Mere management skills boosted beliefs for eternal growth and profit with visions of everyone having the possibility to get rich. When the gullible ones took their chances, the hustle was that of a poker game. The bubble was ready – humanity, true values, morals and ethics had practically no part to play in leadership. In my view, I believe that global economy and society hit a wall and fell into a serious value crisis.
To this day, the world has not yet entirely recovered from this crisis. The rapid development and the effects of cheap labor in China and Asia challenge the global markets and specifically the European economy. Russia’s invasion into the Crimea, Russia’s support in Ukraine’s civil war and shutting its own society from the surrounding world weakens the faith for building a healthy, common ground and growth for the future.
Finland and Europe are going through their longest recession since World War II. Sixty percent of all social costs in the world are formed within Europe, though the area represents just 7 % of the entire world population of 7,5 billion people. In other words, Finland has gained a high living standard with solid support models, but at a too high a cost. This crisis touches every one of us. Thus, solutions must be found together, and the journey will be a long one.
Measured by any standards, our current state of affairs in Finland is a good starting point for structural change. For example, we benefit from high-class basic education, independence, equality, entrepreneurship, functional infrastructure etc. Every one of us should realize that compromises are inevitable. This calls for politicians, different representative bodies, corporate life and every single individual to cease to pursue own interests and instead concentrate on building a common vision and strategy for our Finland Ltd. Experience has shown us that our nation has the necessary “sisu”, the vigor and sturdiness to reach even the most challenging goals.
Besides the economic crisis, also the changes in our attitude atmosphere raise my concern. We were increasingly less jealous of each other and took more joy in others’ accomplishments right up until the year 2008. But during recent years, the decision-makers, tax authorities and the media for their part have been more or less deliberately or ignorantly leading our country towards a society where everything and everyone is distrusted and blamed; “don’t trust your neighbor, watch out, give name and shame”. I cannot believe that anyone wants this sort of a value basis for Finland.
At the same time, along with these above-mentioned macro-level challenges, the world is developing at an even faster and faster pace. It is astounding to see how rapidly e.g. creativity and new technological solutions have affected all of our lives, and leadership as well. In the world of competencies, our individual personalities and behavior are put to the test like never before. Below are a few thoughts on the matter.
People’s desire and ability to control their lives comprehensively has been a continuing tendency since long ago. The modern day and future man seeks to be more and more one’s own authority, wanting to control and be in charge of one’s life. New technologies and new attitudes have opened new paths to fulfill this desire. Interaction has changed: in principle, people can be in contact with anybody at any time, they can profile themselves online so that everyone can reach them, interaction paths have become part of one’s identity (one uses Twitter and the other one not). People don’t need somebody else’s permission to express themselves to others.
The grown need for autonomy in working life can be seen in the increased employee engagement; the employee doesn’t want to be a passive job performer or servant, but rather in charge and planner of one’s own work. Though in spite of changes, organizational leadership is inclined to cling on to various traditional leadership styles and beliefs, and radical renewal is inevitable also in the field of leadership.
Global organizations, wide-ranging networks and the internet have had an effect on management and employee interaction; a major part of communication takes place in other ways than face-to-face. As interaction relationships have grown more complex, also the amount of information and the speed things happen are greater than before. New age leadership requires new tools and new competencies and skills in interaction. Leadership should here be considered from a vast perspective, as leading oneself as well as others. Leading others requires more advanced tools and communication skills, also on the internet. Leadership is motivating, and a new age leader should bear in mind that in addition to his/her interaction, also the media used in interaction has an increasingly important influence on how the message is interpreted and consequently on one’s motivation.
An increased desire for self leadership and to undo power relations has already resulted in an increased amount of micro organizations and networks. This is a trend that will probably continue to carry on. The question is: how can networks operate so that they support the interests of their members with solidarity? One possible answer is that the network members ought to share the same values, attitudes and goals, in order words, have conforming identities, but in a way that doesn’t inhibit the diversity needed for development.
Besides in working life, the change in self leadership is evident e.g. in the fields of health care and wellbeing. Today people resort also to technology in taking care of their health. Various health-related applications grow constantly more common, offering people different choices of how to manage and control the development of one’s wellbeing. In the future, other technologies will expand also in work life; self-management and career planning will be supported by new technologies.
New age leadership, of others and of oneself, will require various, new communication skills and technologies. Man and technology mustn’t clash or compete for space in working life, but find a balance to create new wellbeing and productivity in our society.
For my part, in conjunction with our company’s 40th anniversary, I wish to sincerely thank all of MPS’s customers, cooperation partners, colleagues, friends and my family for this amazing 40-year journey. Our operations have a healthy, solid basis enabling us to go onward and to see Finland develop and flourish steadily yet again.
Text: Marcus Herold, CEO, MPS Enterprises
MPS in brief
MPS Enterprises is a forerunner in the fields of leadership, communications and technological solutions for businesses. MPS is an internationally operating Finnish management consultancy partner specialized in providing comprehensive leadership, change management and strategic human resources solutions. With 40 years of experience, we know that good leadership and motivated personnel are the foundation for businesses to succeed.
MPS companies operating in Finland are MPS Executive Search Ltd, MPS Career Ltd and MPS Prewise Ltd. Other MPS companies operate in the Baltic countries, Russia and China, and our international branches EXS International and Career Star Group ensure that we can meet clients’ needs worldwide. www.mps.fi, www.mpsglobe.com
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