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Nobody wants to be a leader but everybody wants to develop leadership skills

Read Juho Toivolaยดs blog post about the โ€Leadership and Changeโ€ workshop by professor Ben Laker.

The final third of my Henley EMBA journey has now officially kicked off! In the second week of December we spent three days in snowy Helsinki at the new Henley Finland premises. The topic of the workshop was โ€Leadership and Changeโ€, and it was delivered by professor Ben Laker. We were challenged to think critically about the leadership practices in our own organizations, and to develop concrete plans on how these practices could be developed.

My current main hustle is to lead the growth of a professional services company together with my business partner. As we are currently the only leaders in our company, most of the leadership development deals with our ways of working. We can already see that reaching our ambitious growth targets will require us to become more structured and active in our leadership efforts. Even if everything is going smoothly at the moment, the rapidly changing external environment will definitely challenge us in the coming years.

Iโ€™ve often been described as a laissez-faire leader who gives the team members a lot of freedom in how they do their work, and how they set their deadlines. This leadership style works well with experienced and self-motivated individuals but is ineffective in situations where the leader needs to be more present and active. I think I have developed this style because I do not enjoy the interaction and one-on-one discussions with team members that much. Luckily, in our current business all the consultants are very experienced and independent, so they do not require a lot of my supervision or guidance.

One of the most interesting points in the Leadership and Change workshop was the fact that people are usually much more open to opportunities to develop leadership skills, as opposed to โ€becoming leadersโ€. I personally feel that this makes sense intuitively, because โ€being a leaderโ€ sounds like a strong statement and long-term commitment, whereas โ€developing leadership skillsโ€ sounds like a convenient way of becoming more productive in your work.

This insight made me think about what kind of leadership skills I would like to develop. My business partner Matti always says that you should develop your strengths and not your weaknesses. Following this advice, I would like to become more focused on the visionary and strategic aspects of leadership, which are already my most significant strengths as a leader. In particular, Iโ€™m planning to dive deeper into strategic foresight and future studies, in order to gain further first mover advantage in my business ventures. Hopefully this will also prove useful for the business – only time will tell!

You can follow my EMBA journey through weekly updates with the hashtag #JuhoGoesEMBA on LinkedIn.

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Jennika Rantanen - Henley Business School Finland

Jennika Rantanen

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