ForTheDoers Blog

Open leadership is taking us towards a cleaner future

Risto Penttinen 29 May 2020, 15:16 EEST

Together with our clients and society, our mission is to drive the change towards a cleaner world and energy production. But, to reach our destination, we also need to develop our company culture. That is why we have defined principles for our leadership model, forming a framework for what we expect from Fortum employees – and what they can expect from Fortum as their employer.

Risto Penttinen

The energy sector is going through a drastic change towards cleaner energy without compromising the security of supply. We are doing everything we can to reduce emissions to reach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, in accordance with the Paris agreement. The goal is clear, but the journey takes time, expertise and new innovations. Therefore, we want to have the best and most motivated employees in the industry – and the purpose of our leadership principles is to help our employees succeed in their work to the fullest extent.

In our work at Fortum, we get to have an impact on a central challenge facing humanity: slowing down climate change. It is a huge challenge and succeeding in this task also sets requirements for leadership. At Fortum, managing employees is based on the principles of open leadership. The principles form a framework for what we expect from Fortum employees – and what they can expect from Fortum as their employer. Open leadership is a leadership model based on positive psychology, aiming to provide our employees with the tools and confidence needed to actively follow and build the future of the energy sector.

A central principle of the open leadership model is the supportive approach based on individual strengths. We think that by trusting and believing in people and taking care of their well-being, we can expect even better results from them.

Believe the best: believing in each other

We believe in our people, which encourages them to believe in themselves and to grow and exceed expectations. We share responsibility, we involve each other and recognise efforts across organisational boundaries. We encourage cooperation and open discussion.  

Being open and offering challenges is a central part of our leadership model. Therefore, in recent years, we have engaged also our employees increasingly in the strategy process. Communicating about our strategy in an even more open and active manner is important to us so that our employees understand our business and the factors impacting it as profoundly as possible.

Want the best: we want the best for each other

We want to build a working environment and company culture that helps our employees to succeed, and we have put a lot of effort towards reaching this goal. We encourage our employees to take care of their overall well-being and safety, and we encourage them to open discussion and feedback. We want our employees to listen to each other’s thoughts and challenge and support each other.

At Fortum, we encourage our employees to maintain their physical health through different exercise programs and accomplishments. We reward employees every year for the best wellbeing actions, and one example of how we invest in our employees is the recent launch of our cooperation with Hintsa Performance to provide personalised wellbeing coaching. During the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus, we have continued our work to improve employees’ wellbeing by offering remote coaching, having breaks together and giving advice on good ergonomics at the home office.

Expect the best: we expect the best from each other

Everything that we do supports our target of achieving better results as a company. The better we understand client needs and develop innovative solutions and the more flexible we are in adapting to change in our sector, the more successfully we will fulfil our mission of building a cleaner energy system.

Our leadership model seeks to promote our employees’ engagement to Fortum’s vision and strategy. When we reach better results through hard work, we want to share the success with our staff. One example of this is the forShares employee share savings programme launched in the autumn of 2019. During the annually commencing savings periods, the employees can save a proportion of their salaries each month and use it to purchase Fortum shares. As a gross reward, Fortum grants one matching share for each two purchased savings shares after three years from the beginning of the savings period. It is great to see that 40% of all the participating employees and over 50% of Finnish employees have seized the opportunity of investing in the first savings period that began on 1 January 2020.

We monitor the progress of the principles of open leadership regularly, and according to our employees, the leadership model has clearly improved. In November 2019, 78% of the respondents of the employee survey felt that we have made progress in open leadership. Our employees responded to the same survey now in May, and it will be interesting to see how the past weeks will affect the results, as most of our employees have been working from home. In these exceptional circumstances, we have invested in active and versatile internal communications, online trainings and in supporting the wellbeing of our employees. We will continue the work to promote our employees’ skills, abilities and wellbeing and to develop our leadership model, although, for the time being, we will be physically apart from each other.


Risto Penttinen

Senior Vice President, Strategy, People and Performance

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