August 30, 2015

The challenge of duality and how it affects leadership

Satu Kiiskinen

Head of Consulting and System Integration unit, Tieto

Digitalization is creating a new world, where all companies need to adapt to the increasing expectations of individuals.

We have defined the three biggest change angles of digitalization. It is often seen technology driven, and of course it is that, when new technologies pop-up all the time and revolutionize our behaviors.

However, it is more than ever also a human related change, as individuals define how we make business and how organizations are led.

Disruption of organizations

Companies must change. That is a fact. 70 % of Fortune 500 companies won’t exist in 2020, argues my colleague Mahesh Desai. Companies will die, if they don’t change the way they think and do business.

We are no exception. We have to alter the ways we work and do business at Tieto as well. We go  through a noteworthy change, from business and technology to mindset and leadership perspective. The demands of our customers keep developing and to offer the services and know-how needed to be the customers preferred partner in digitalization, sets new requirements on innovations, partner ecosystems and most of all, culture.  

This means we need to innovate more openly, we have to utilize the partner ecosystems better and to transform the way we think. From leadership point of view, this sets upon us a challenge to lead in duality. What kind of leadership is needed in the new world, do the same rules apply as in the traditional world of IT, and how to balance in between?

The balance is found via active dialogue and listening; with open ears and eyes, as we define our open source culture inside Tieto.

We need to challenge ourselves more

As my colleague Taneli Tikka has mentioned, the world is not predictable, and companies need to create a culture where the corporate climate accepts continuous changes.  Or, if I may add, not only the corporate climate but every employee as well.

Fast-paced decision-making and navigating in the ever-changing environment require a new mindset from all of us. We need to adapt the start-up mentality, where learning, absorbing and applying new skills and ways of working are constant.

The same thing applies to leadership, as traditional leadership methods no longer work.  The same way consumers drive change in the market, the employees are the driving force in the companies. Utilizing the knowledge and experiences of internal and external networks becomes key. We do this for example through our internal innovation program Tieto SPARK!

In the unit I lead at Tieto, we have a global team of some 4,000 skilled, powerful people. People who constantly need to be on top of market trends and customer challenges. People who see which solutions of the vast rage of technology solve the customers’ future pains, even before the customers themselves are aware of the challenges.

For this to happen, leaders need to empower the people and let them  lead themselves, take ownership and constantly adapt and update their skills. The role of the leader becomes to create an organization that challenges itself every day.

Obviously, this means that leaders need to look themselves in the mirror and challenge their own way of leading and acting if they want to see the same development happen in their organization. As a leader in this era of duality on the new and the old, you have to be able to accept the things you cannot change, leave behind what belongs to the past and put your focus and energy on the things that will make your company flourish.

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