My journey from a nurse to a startup entrepreneur and a leader has not always been easy, but it has been all the more educational. I have realised that you are not born a good leader, you grow into it. However, there is much to remember to ease the growing pains.
It’s said that experience gives the best competence. I’ve been in the healthcare sector for over 15 years, first as a Personal Care Assistant and a Practical Nurse, Public Health Nurse and now an entrepreneur. I wanted to offer patients and healthcare personnel something better, so I founded Hoiwa Oy. Today I have a chance to share my vision together with the personnel and over 3000 gig workers. Because I find my role meaningful, it gives me pleasure and gratification, which then gives me energy to keep going. I believe that every leader needs a vision, that’s truly important and relevant to them. It is hard to lead something you don’t believe in yourself, because emotions are contagious. Only a leader passionate about their cause can inspire and excite others. If you want to be a good leader, first ask yourself whether you believe in your own story yourself.
Set an example
A good leader is an example, role model and a figurehead, who gives the company a face. A good leader gives more thought to the common good than their own. For example, I have been quite a private person with stage fright. I gave up my privacy so that I could represent and defend others. I got a mentor to be freed from the fear of performing. I now have the confidence to perform more naturally and to tell about my journey in the press.
It’s also good to remember that leadership is a service profession at heart. A servant leader sets an example for others to follow. The quality of service depends on the people; and that is what customer satisfaction and competitiveness depend on.
Care and influence
A good leader is emotionally intelligent, empathic and conversational. Because it’s important to me that others are doing well too, I strive to recognise others’ feelings and emotions and to listen to them with care and attention. This enables me to relate with them and to respond to their needs. I want to be a part of building an open and psychologically safe culture of conversation. The more I discuss with the staff, the more I’m aware of how they and the company are really doing. Openness strengthens emotional ties, trust and the sense of belonging. Effective interaction is important even with those who disagree with you. Issues can be addressed right away and there will be less unpleasant surprises.
Motivate and encourage
On top of being able to make quick decisions, a good leader needs to get people to act. Good negotiation and communication skills have always been a prerequisite for good leadership. Today, these skills are needed more than ever before – hierarchical organisations can be led by command and control, but with self-directed teams, one must be able to motivate and steer them towards the right direction. This in turn requires that everyone is aware of and understands their own work’s importance as a part of the whole. A good leader tells them that, without mincing their words. When they understand the importance and impact of their role, they don’t want to disappoint but will instead strive to reach the best possible results. The need for leadership is not disappearing, quite the opposite. Someone has to be the one to show the way, make the final decisions and carry the responsibility.
Communicate extensively and transparently
A good leader is an active communicator. They keep the personnel, customers and stakeholders informed, pointing the way and strengthening awareness, emotional ties and psychological safety. In particular, remote work management requires active interaction. We can’t forget that we are a team that works together for a common goal. Although it’s said that leadership is essentially about talking, it’s the actions that ultimately do the talking – it is for example wrong and short-sighted to claim to be accountable when you really are not. Unfortunately, many examples prove that in this information society lies have short legs. What is said must be true.
Adapt and innovate
A good leader is more than adaptable – they see change as an opportunity and encourage others. Today change is so fast that standing still is impossible. That’s why the culture of companies, in other words the way they do things, must be reformed. The ability to change requires making decisions, making decisions requires courage, and courage requires a positive attitude. Every decision is a risk, but when we have the right attitude, we can also learn from failures. A good leader imparts this attitude to their team. They are also competitive in a good way and build winning teams. Winning teams are effective, innovative and unwilling to settle.
When a leader invests in themselves, they also invest in the company. There is no leader good enough that they could not develop themselves further. So don’t think you’re done, but keep moving. Otherwise your organisation will also stagnate. I’ve found reading and self-reflection to be good means for that. Reading improves memory and develops social, communication and empathic skills. Self-reflection is said to be the most important human skill, because it affects the learning of all the life skills and new knowledge, and the way we see ourselves. It is the road to wisdom and compassion. I feel that self-reflection is especially important to a leader, for they set an example for others. It is equally important to stay humble and to dare to receive constructive feedback. Then development is possible, too.
Originally posted in the TYÖ2030 Leadership blog (in Finnish) →