The year of the brave – Nordic Business Report 10/2023


“Be right, when everyone else is wrong.”

On the second day of the 2023 Nordic Business Forum, hedge fund manager Nikolai Tangen summed up the difference between the winners and the rest when it comes to investing.

Swimming against the current, while everyone else is going the other way, requires both exceptional skills and rock-solid determination. You must have blind faith in yourself to be the only one who decides to take the unbeaten path.

Then again, if a million people win the lottery, that would not feel like a real victory either, would it? It is all about beating the odds, big time.

The same applies to leadership. When times are good and all the right curves are pointing upwards, anyone can be a leader – or, at the very least, call himself or herself one. All there is to do is put everything on autopilot, and watch the cash pour in. The setup changes completely when times get tough, and the ship must be saved from sinking.

While we are not quite there yet, the time has come for the leaders to step up and start swimming. Even against the current, if that is what it takes to get their respective companies back on the winning track.

That is why the theme for the 2024 Nordic Business Forum is Courageous Leadership.

As the event organizers say, “we need leaders like you who dare to innovate, disrupt, and make a difference.” In other words, we need those who are not afraid of choosing their own paths, no matter what everyone else does. Simply because those are the paths which will eventually lead to big victories. For any company to thrive under circumstances like these, it must beat the odds and win big.

Next September, you will learn from a great bunch of leaders, from Brené Brown to Mario Draghi and from Wil Guidara to Bozoma Saint John, how to make the most of your team and company – and of yourself as a leader. However, the fact that Courageous Leadership is the theme for an event that takes place almost a year from today, does not mean you should wait until then to start being courageous.

Your company, your employees, and the economy won’t have the patience. You must start today – and join the event to reap the benefits (get your early bird tickets here).

The time for courageous leadership is right now

The year between these two Nordic Business Forums is the year when the ability to lead will go through an ultimate test. When both the economic and political environment look uncertain to say the very least, putting everything on hold might sound like the thing to do. Not necessarily the smartest, but rather the safest one.

But we have been waiting for the storm to calm for too long already.

There is no time like right now to take the matter into own hands and start paving the way ahead. Like at the beginning of the playoffs the coach of a sports team urges the best players to start being the best players, the same goes for the leaders.

The playoffs have started, and it is the time for you to lead. With courage. To win. Big.

This brings us back to the 2023 event and Patrick Lencioni, who explained how a leader can free his or her team from dysfunctions that prevent people from being the best they can be.

Everything is based on trust. Not the kind of trust where you can count on your colleague to handle the task at hand well and in time, but the kind where you can make yourself completely vulnerable to others. To be able to make yourself “naked about your strengths and weaknesses”.

We have way too much experience in companies who start deteriorating simply due to people’s inability to express disagreements openly – or to admit that they need help in sorting out a challenge at hand. The right kind of trust takes away plenty of hesitation and concern for potential consequences. That may not seem that relevant in the heat of the moment, but those are perfect examples of little things that, when not dealt with properly, add up to being a destructive force.

When people can genuinely trust each other to pull together for a common goal, they can count on every idea and opinion receiving fair treatment. They also know that the best way to turn the tide when things are going the wrong way is to bring everything out in the open, address problems as they are and make the changes that are necessary to make. Sweeping bad news under the carpet doesn’t make them go away. They will pop back to the surface in even worse condition.

For many leaders, establishing that kind of working environment, albeit deemed important, simply sounds like way too much beyond the comfort zone. So instead of making themselves – and the entire organization – vulnerable, they cave in.

But you must step up, and that is a perfect thing to start with.

Even if you think that everyone else is doing it the other way, they are wrong. Take Patrick’s word for it. This is your lifetime opportunity to be the only one that is right.

The year of the brave is on, and the clock is ticking.