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Leadership in a multinational business - what leadership style works best?

This is an interesting blog entry from Pekka Viljakainen, an entrepreneur from Finland who sold his IT consulting business to a multinational Tieto. Some useful insights here for students wanting to develop their understanding of how the challenge of leadership changes as a leader’s responsibilities become more complex and cross-border.

I like Viljakainen’s candour in explaining in a nutshell how his leadership role changed after he had sold his business:

“I was used to managing 200 Finnish nerds, with whom my straight-ahead approach (my nickname is “Bulldozer”) got great results. But Tieto was growing rapidly and going global. Before long I was managing thousands of nerds in Russia, China, Germany, the U.S., and other countries. And it wasn’t working”

It’s well worth reading the blog entry to see how Viljakainen found he had to change his leadership style to once more make it effective.  Essentially it is a story of moving from a command & control approach (perhaps associated with an autocratic style) to one based much more on listening and communication.

I like Viljakainen’s approach to communication with his global employee base too.  Extensive use of informal channels, exploiting social media to the full.


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