Alf Rehn – Johtajuuden ristiriidat
Alf Rehn – Johtajuuden ristiriidat
Alf Rehn shares in his book thoughts about leadership and how contradictory it can be. It is not a guide book to leadership, but gives examples of different leadership types and how they are seen nowadays. The idea of the book is to show that leadership is such a massive thing containing many paradoxes and a leader is required for many contradictory things. Rehn is a professor of design, innovation and leadership. The reader can tell that he has got a lot ofexperiences with being around different leaders, which makes the book very interesting to read. In this essay I will highlight the parts that affected me the most.
‘’Sometimes everything works, nothing works all the time’.
There is not a right answer
Rehn emphasizes how there is no right answer as to how a leader should be like, but there can be better ways of handling leadership responsibilities. I think an excellent example of this was shared in a chapter telling how a leader should be a like a man with no empathy and the following one that a leader should be feminine with feelings and empathy.
Empathy and leadership
Rehn talks a lot about empathy of leaders. He constantly brings up how leaders should have empathy, care more about the employees and their feelings. He describes empathy as a skill to commit to people and help in problem solving. In many examples he gives during the book, the best leaders, according to their employees, are the ones who show genuine interest in their feelings and can see situations in the other persons perspective. Even though the leader should have empathy, the person should also recognize that it can be challenging because one can’t lead with just emotions. Too often people imagine a leader as a man, however the fact is that leadership should consist more out of caring and tears.
Failing without losing
The other topic that is brought up a lot is about how a leader should function and fail without losing the excitement of leadership. Failure in business does not necessarily mean that the leader is bad, because the most important thing about leadership is self-leading. Self-leading means that you get things done without getting a burn-out. This is extremely important considering that one can’t lead other people without knowing how to self-lead.
Searching for new paths and breaking boundaries is something that a leader should always do. Breaking boundaries means that the person creates new possibilities. Boundaries should always be broken by a leader especially when recognizing that something is not done correctly. In some situations, a leader should be prepared to experience even some hate in order to break boundaries.
Leader does not necessarily have to be visible
In many situations a good leader is considered as one that is brought in many situations and visible to the people outside the company. A leader should instead be present, but at the same time give time and space to the employees. Rehn gives an example of a leader, called Torsten, who gave a speech about the success of his company. Rather than speaking about himself, he told the other employees to come up to the stage and he was standing behind all of them. He was an invisible leader.
Do leaders need to have a big ego to be successful?
A leader should not be dismissive about themselves or afraid to be successful. Otherwise the leader will make the others doubt. Rehn gives an excellent example about this by telling about a leader who always doubted himself, never wanted to bring up his success and always brought up how he was not good enough. He even described himself as a ‘’medel svensson’’, which basically means an average Swedish person. A leader should not have a big ego either. A leader should not underestimate or be afraid to be successful, but to show talents without bragging, show position without bringing others down and stand with a straight back without floating. In my opinion, this was one of the best lessons of the book.
A leader should react – in every situation
It is highly important to show care for the employees. If genuine care is not shown, the employees can start being care-free themselves. Rehn points out a situation where an employee shows up to work with red eyes, looking a bit hungover and sad. The employees around him look worried and are waiting for the leader to react. Instead of reacting, the leader heads straight into his office, not showing any kind of reaction towards the situation. Even though the reaction could be less considered about, a leader should always react. If that exact leader would have reacted to the situation, a genuine care would have been showed. Without reacting, a leader shows that in that certain organisation, there is no need to react and caring is not important. Careless leader created a cold environment to the organisation.
Leader away from the employees?
The trust among the leader and employees can fail if the leader is away from the employees a lot. In the examples Rehn gives, the results have always been better when the leader is with the employees, suffers and takes the risks that are demanded from the employees. This shows that a leader is part of the team and group. One of them. Rehn presents the historic example of war comparing leaders that fought on the front lines with their troops and second world war leaders who stayed back. It is important to show that the leader is prepared to do the same tasks that the employees are asked to do.
If your employees consider that you have leaded – have you?
Leadership consists out of many philosophical questions. In certain ways the book is about philosophy of leadership. The paradoxes are tools for thinking. There are many sacrifices that needs to be made in order to think about the bigger picture of an organisation. A leader should simply accept that there is noperfect way to lead.
Overall the book was interesting and it showed many perspectives of leadership. I think people wanting to become leaders or anyone else as well should definitely read this book.