In times of digitalization and emerging new technologies, the terms agility and flexibility become more important for companies and organizations as well. But how do these changes have an influence on leadership roles, the motivation of employees and individual performances? Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt is an internationally experienced senior executive and delivers insights into the challenges of leading in today’s new disrupted world of work.
Eva-Lotta Sjöstedt is an internationally experienced senior executive:
- Leadership across diverse cultures including Japan, China, Europe and the US, with an extensive understanding of the end customer.
- Experience with implementing digital transformations.
- Driving growth and delivering high preforming results in privately owned, private equity and publicly listed companies.
- Global brands from IKEA to Georg Jensen span from mid-market to luxury.
- Successful in building brand strategies and fostering professional and profitable relationships while maintaining trust.
Sjöstedt is currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark, building a portfolio of non-executive board positions. She is passionate about sustainability, leadership, empowerment and holistic living.
New ways of thinking and doing
Eva-Lotta, you have held various leadership roles with global brands across different cultures, what is the biggest challenge you had to face over and over again all along the way?
I have been very fortunate to be able to meet people with different cultures for instance in Japan, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, China to mention a few. In my time being and working in these countries and interacting as a leader with the purpose of both developing the individual person as well as the teams and growing the business, I have learned to be humble to the things I don’t know and being open to new ways of thinking and doing so I have challenged my own beliefs. Questions I have been curious about is the why and why not in this context. And that has sometimes been challenging when the cultural behavior is foreign to you and the social interaction is not known. The actual meaning of Karaoke in Japan in a business setting is not what I thought it would be and quite different from the informal coffee meeting in Sweden that we call FIKA.
The obligation to develop people
You are a passionate advocate of purpose-driven leadership and empowerment, what does it mean to be a purpose-driven leader today? And how is that impacting the business performance?
The first question you have to ask is: Am I a leader coming from fear of love? And am I a leader that have a strong trust in that it’s enough room and space for everyone and we all belong. And with that mindset you need to have the competence to understand, challenge and develop the business context – whatever that might be, however beyond delivering the business results that we are setting up, you also then as a leader have an obligation to develop the people in your organization. And you can’t take a pick and just choose people or business, I have seen that many times and the result is never as good as it could be. The challenge is to do both at the same time all the time. You also need to know your own values and what you are and what you are not, as a person.
Adding value to your business
Let’s talk about tech disruption shaking up the workplace, in particular Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, in your opinion where is the journey going?
I have a very solid belief that first comes human and then the machine. And I also find it very exciting to see the new opportunities that technology offers. However again the competence we need as leaders today is the actual understanding about what the new technology can do. Then we need to decide how to best use it for our actual business. To give one example, today the technology can analyze massive amounts of data in a better and more complex way than humans. When you get the results of that data that many times is cross functional and challenging the hierarchy in a company. That can trigger a lot of emotions around cultural beliefs for the people working in the different functions or teams. Old truths may be challenged as well as hierarchy, you then need as a leader to implement and add new and better value to the business and lead change. It all needs to make sense and, in the end, motivates the organization short and long term.
Expectations concerning the Global Female Leaders Summit
Finally, you will join a panel of female leaders to discuss the topic “Leading in the New Disrupted World of Work” at the upcoming Global Female Leaders Summit in May, what are you mostly excited about?
I am excited to the opportunity to listen and learn from others and broaden my own perspective. And also have hope that we in the disruptive world of work find new opportunities and not get stuck in the disruption.