How do you get experienced finance managers based in different Nordic countries to work for a new common Nordic agenda – set by HQ and run by HQ?

“I can SO see how it must feel and look from their point of view”, she said (she is the new Nordic Area Head of Finance): “Now, we come from Corporate HQ, and we challenge everything they do, how they do it, and we ask them to put the business of the region above their own national agenda. Why should they do it?”. (I love how she creatively steps into their shoes to gain new information to the planning).

Being clear on your own vision and intentions as well as how you create and head a real and aligned leadership team (taking care of the resistance to the change), were part of our conversation.

Starting with WHY – and creating an aligned leadership team


We talked about her vision and why this is important for the business in the region: A strong vision and a clear purpose. This is key in making change happen. And she is rock solid: This IS the best solution to strengthening the regional part of the business, she says: Streamlining, centralizing, a common language, clear stakeholder involvement. And most of all, we need to create a real and aligned leadership team amongst us; we need to learn from each other and inspire one another. “We do that on top of the daily business, that we need to keep running. That is my ASK of them. We’ll see if they are up for it”, she added.

Who are YOU?

When you start identifying your most essential questions, you also find the most efficient starting-point for any change to begin. This is the key-hole. Being clear on her own intentions for the full team was a great place to lead from. She was confident in how to work with them as a leadership team, so I wanted to know more about HER as the executive:

  •   “Who do you need to be for this to happen?”, I asked.
  •   “How do you want to challenge yourself?”

This last part of the conversation was very personal. I am an expert in creating a safe place and then challenge leaders to step out of their comfort-zone. The conversation takes a new turn here, which is both meaningful and powerful and often also vulnerable.

Breakthroughs based on being present

What creates the breakthrough and a clear path ahead are several elements. You can boil it down to 3 different conversations*):

  1. Being clear on what you want – and what you want to change or be different. (What is your issue or problem, really?)
  2. What needs to change in you – for you to create the change you want? (On a very personal level: how do you need to evolve or learn?)
  3. Between you and I, right now, what needs to happen – for you to fully create the change you want? (Anything can happen when there is a high level of trust between me and the other person. This is when aha-moments materialize).

In its essence, this is what works. As executives, we need to take the time to be present and reflect on these issues, not just try to fix the problem. If you fail to reflect, you risk leaving out the second part, which is all about you: What got you to where you are today, will not get you to what you want next. Trust me on that.


*) Many years ago, I found that this process has also been described by a great British colleague, Peter Hawkins. He calls it Systemic Transformational Coaching. Peter has published several books that I can highly recommend to executives and coaches.