ForTheDoers Blog

Leading yourself is about accountability and freedom

Kristina Kinik 15 February 2021, 10:51 EET

Many companies and organisations see that the new normal will permanently change the way we are working. And the long period of remote working, with all its challenges and implications, has really been a catapult for leading yourself and your team in a different way. The balancing act between freedom and accountability is part of the new normal for our post-pandemic corporate way of working. We believe that self-leadership, for the individual and the manager, is here to stay.

Self-leadership - A woman working on a laptop

So, what is self-leadership, and what do we actually mean by it? For independent workers, freelancers and entrepreneurs, it is part of their way of delivering their services and building their businesses. But for companies and employees, it is often a way to modernise the way of working. By empowering people to take even more responsibility for their own work, development and wellbeing, research shows that engagement and productivity tend to increase. In the current era, characterized by a decreasing trend of productivity improvements in the labour productivity, this is very important indeed. For some reason, the significant investments into IT tools and systems are no longer raising the productivity as much as in the past. Therefore, the new ways of leaders ensuring appropriately clear direction, coupled with strong empowerment and effective self-leadership are so important.

At Fortum, we have seen leadership changing during the pandemic to focus more on coaching rather than managing in the new reality. During the past few years, we have implemented our company-wide Open Leadership principles, a solid foundation that we now can build on. Feedback from our leaders and employees last autumn showed a need for more concrete, operational-level support. How can we keep engagement up, even if we don’t meet physically? Are there proven methods on how I can help my team manage their tasks and time in an efficient way? How can I encourage my team to take care of each person’s wellbeing and support coping with stress and uncertainty?

To meet these needs, we created a handbook with practical tips and tools on how to lead in the new reality of virtual teams. The handbook mainly targets managers, but it is available for all employees, as the tools presented are for everyone to use in their daily work. The ability to lead yourself and to continuously develop are essential parts of the new normal.

Leading yourself and others

Today, with many of us working remotely, we have experienced an increased need for self-leadership. We all must decide on how and when to do our work, when we need input and support from others, and how to set sustainable targets for our own performance. Together with our teams and managers, we agree on the common framework, and then we can structure and control our own part. As colleagues, we are all responsible for our own actions, for our own work morale, for our collaboration with colleagues, and for bringing out the best in ourselves and others. Naturally, these have been true and important also prior to the pandemic and remote work. But the extended remote working period has really surfaced and highlighted the importance of such leadership practices in a unique way. If we all individually take responsibility for our own part, we become stronger as an entity. And by role modelling wellbeing, time management and ways of working, our self-leadership capabilities grow.

A continuous drive to learn and develop is also a key component in self-leadership. Curiosity is one of our core values at Fortum, and continuous learning is becoming part of our company culture.

But it is not only about attitude; companies need to establish smooth processes, common methods, and tools to support continuous improvement and learning. At Fortum, we have an ongoing effort to establish continuous improvement and learning, and to boost the sharing of best practices. The Operational Excellence program as well as the Must-Win-Battles are good examples of this.

Designing the future of work

We expect hybrid work, i.e. a combination of office/onsite and remote work in some form, to be the new standard for many of our employees, also once we are past the pandemic and can return to a more normal work-life. If we can create a hybrid solution that secures dynamic collaboration and innovation and combine it with an optimal work-life balance, we believe that it would be a win-win situation for everyone. At the moment, we are designing the future work model, which we will base on data and valuable insights from our managers and employees.

By building on self-leadership and continuous learning, utilising the internal digital transformation alongside our strong company culture of openness and accountability, we can accelerate the future of work at Fortum.

We are not going back; we are going forward.

Ann Boije af Gennäs, Matti Kattainen & Kristina Kinik
Fortum Workforce 2.0 core team

About Fortum Workforce 2.0

The global pandemic has not only impacted the human health situation, but also the corporate way of working. The strategic initiative “Workforce 2.0” was established to analyse what structured, long-term changes we need to implement at Fortum. The long-term changes and scenarios will be mixed with short-term adaptations and actions.

The core team consists of Ann Boije af Gennäs, Business Technology, Matti Kattainen, Generation, and Kristina Kinik, Group Communications. The core team has been working fully remotely during the pandemic and cooperating completely virtually.

Kristina Kinik

Ann Boije af Gennäs

Matti Kattainen

matti [dot] kattainen [at] fortum [dot] com

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