Last week we took part in Shift Business Festival with Sanni Hujanen. The event took place in Kakola Hotel which is an exciting area to visit in itself. Key topics were Leadership, Digitalization and Sustainability.
It was a great opportunity to get to know new people as well as meet familiar faces.
I’ve again learned about the importance of getting together in real life, sharing a meal and glass of good drink. Certain things just do not happen in the online environment, at least not yet.I especially enjoyed the keynote from Helene Auramo. Helene is an entrepreneur based in Kangasala, founder of Prönö, Slush, Indiedays, Zipipop, and Okimo Clinic. Helene talked about humane business and servant leadership which I found really inspiring as a young entrepreneur.
Both terms came up after Helene quit her full-time job and went on a journey to discover her true self and reflect on what her real values are.
Humane businesses are the future and are going to be led by servant leaders. More and more people look for meaning in their work and it’s challenging to find it in big corporations that just seek profit. We must use businesses as a force for good and not take advantage of people. A good example of that is the humane tech movement, which focuses on building technology without using human weakness. We need to change in current patterns of how we run companies. The value should be created not only for the customer and shareholders but also for all stakeholders. Social, environmental, cultural, and financial aspects, are all equally important when looking inside as well as outside of the company. That also starts to matter a lot for potential employees who are gaining more and more power to decide where and for who they want to work.
Servant leadership is the philosophy where the focus is not only on the growth of the company but the positive development of the surrounding of the company as well. In other words, it’s the well-being of communities and societies in which the company operates. The leader’s goal is to serve. When employees are served right, they can grow as people and professionals, which in the long run results in the growth of the company.
Do those served to grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to become servants?
(Robert K. Greenleaf).
Trust came up many times during the conference and it also plays a crucial role when we talk about humane business and servant leadership. We usually start with certain credits of trust, the challenge lies in maintaining the trust and not falling for the trap of trusting too much. A leader’s role is to motivate people around and assure that there is more than a moral framework for the employees.
To create such conditions, we need tools. Helene during her speech gave us 5 tips on how to improve and reevaluate our purpose, values, mission, and vision. Most workers have a problem with really understanding the values, to learn we need to dig deep into the company and not just let the management team decide about these. Otherwise, values won’t be comprehensive within a company. That will result in a lack of engagement with the values and purpose among the workers. Let’s go briefly through the 5 tips.
- Leaders must have passion for the company. To have it, they must know their own values and purpose.
- Make sure your team is alright. That is especially challenging while working remotely, we are unable to read all the signs. Servant leader wants to help people find out what they know, what they want to do, and what they don’t want to do and help them to move in a direction where they want to move.
- Empower people. Trust is the key. To create it, we need to get to know people first. After that, it’s easier to work together, delegate and really trust people.
- Be transparent. Especially when bad things happen. While leading through the crisis we do not have to solve everything ourselves. It means that we must be the change and embrace it, if we want our workers to do the same, we must be honest and transparent.
- Finally, leader, are you ok? What kind of help leader might need? It’s important to know ourselves and recognise our needs. As simple as, having enough rest, quality food or someone to talk to. These will influence our energy levels, stress, and behaviour. Not to mention the ability to be creative or make decisions.
Executive coaches, psychiatrists, and advisors are very valuable. Sometimes we just cannot talk with family members or close friends.
I’m happy to share these insights from the keynote, as I decided a few years back to change my career path because I lacked good leadership as a worker. That often has been influenced by poor business standards and focus solely on profits. At the end of the day, it’s people who matter, without them we cannot do business. I hope many will find this helpful and continue to explore this topic to make their own businesses or projects better and more humane.
Auramo H. Prö-nö 2022 Leading businesses through crazy times: tips for servant leaders. Business Talk. Shift Business Festival on 24–25.08.2022. Turku, Finland.
Greenleaf R. 2007. The Servant as Leader. Corporate Ethics and Corporate Governance. Pp- 79-85.