Leadership in Sweden: Main Characteristics
· Egalitarianism is one of the most important characteristics in Swedish society, as well as business. So one won’t see a vivid display of hierarchy.
· Keeping low profile is normal and expected from both leaders and subordinates.
· Leaders in Sweden often have a self-sacrificial approach to managing the company
· The Swedish model favors innovative and creative co-workers. Anyone’s opinion is
valuable and accepted. Common workers are often asked to give their opinions on rather important matters.
· Swedish leaders won’t do anything just to demonstrate power.
Mats Tyrstrup, a doctor of economics at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Leadership at Stockholm School of Economics put it this way, "You ask people to ‘look at a question’ where a French or American manager would have said ‘solve this problem, in this way, by Friday.’”
Niklas Prager, CEO of Pfizer says, "It’s a working method based on a clear picture of what you want to achieve and a fundamental conviction that everybody has to contribute in order to get there.
Prominent Swedish Business Leaders
Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren
1. While working at Electrolux, he persuaded the company top management to buy a patent for vacuum cleaners, which at that time were used at manufactories. By the early 1930’s he became owner of Electrolux. The company also became a leader in manufacturing of refrigerators.
2. He is also known for the involvement in the monorail train systems. The original Disneyland Monorail System and Seattle Center Monorail were built by his company ALWAC.
3. He also got involved in the early computer business but was not successful. The computers were called ALWAC, ALWAC-II and -III.
1. Worked for Sandvik Steel in the US for 4 years (1975-1979). During these years, he tripled the revenues, grossing $250 million, and turned the company profitable. During his work in the United States, Sandvik started competing against the industry leaders, such as General Electric or U.S. Steel.
2. 1979 he joined ASEA. During his 8 years as CEO of ASEA followed by the 9 years as CEO of ABB, the company achieved an increase of stock value of 87 times or 30% average per year over the 17 years. Net profit increased 60 times and sales 30 times. Based upon these extraordinary results Barnevik received a one-off payment of 148 million Swiss francs when he retired as CEO in 1996.
1. He is most noted for being Chief Executive Officer of SAS Group from 1981 – 1994. When became CEO of SAS, the company was facing financial difficulties and losing $17 mln a year. The company was also ranked 14 out of 17 European airlines in punctuality.
2. He revolutionized the airline industry through an unrelenting focus on customer service
3. After a year in the capacity of the CEO, SAS has become the most punctual airline in Europe.
4. He implemented a program called Putting People First, which focused on delegating a big share of responsibility to the staff who worked directly with customers. As a result the company made a profit of $54 million in 1982.
Since 1997 he has served as President and CEO of the Volvo Group. Johansson is one of the biggest names in Swedish business, a renowned speaker and well-known for his broad dedication to social improvement. Regarded as an exceptional leader, he is in considerable demand for outside assignments both in Sweden and abroad. Under his leadership, the Volvo Group has enjoyed significant growth in terms of turnover, size and payroll. Today the Group is Sweden's largest privately owned employer and one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers.