Unlocking Your Leadership Puzzle: Celebrate Your Distinctive Role and Create a Powerful Legacy

Have you ever seen an orchestra perform?

The lights dim. The crowd settles. A soft note rises from the group, then another, and then a wave of music washes over the theater. Skilled musicians play their parts to perfection. The dancing strings of violins, cellos, and double basses fill the air with highs and lows. Woodwinds make their magic; horns punctuate moments of passion; and percussion keeps the rest of them in time.

And at the center of it all stands the conductor. All the musicians watch her, trusting her, as she directs the group.

What a powerful metaphor for the workplace.

Your organization may not make music, but you do serve someone in their time of need. Whatever you make or do has a purpose. Every day, a group of diverse individuals with their own lives comes together to leverage their talents toward that common goal, and they take their cues from you – their leader. It is a thing of beauty.

But you know what they say about beauty… beauty is pain!

Managing people is no simple task. Just like a conductor must make one thing out of many, a leader must unite her team from among a group of people with their own interests, communication styles, skill sets, backgrounds, and job descriptions. And the stakes are high, too: your greatest asset is your people, so if they are struggling to act as one, your organization is barely operating at half capacity.

In my experience as a consultant I have worked with many leaders struggling to unite and motivate teams. But in that time, one method of management has consistently proven successful: the Scandinavian approach. This method rests on three pillars, equal in importance:

1. Transparency.

Why is transparency so fundamental to leadership? Transparency promotes trust and communicates confidence. Leaders who are clear, upfront, and accessible to their teams build bridges, not walls.

Effective communication is the main avenue of transparency. Set expectations for your team. Outline and assign goals, objectives, and responsibilities. Then, communicate regularly with your team. Offer them feedback on their performance and duties and open yourself up to feedback from them.

2. Empowerment.

Empowerment is another element of the Scandinavian style of leadership that promotes trust.

Micromanaging leaders undermine the confidence of their team members. With their actions, they tell their teams, “I don’t trust you to do your job.” But leaders who empower their team members express certainty – in other words, “I know you can do your job and more.” Team members who have been given authority are more ready to take ownership of their roles.

As leaders, we must be more committed to our team’s and organization’s greatest good than a specific method, process, style, or schedule. Team members that can make their own choices and feel supported by leadership in those choices will produce inspired work.

3. Empathy.

The concept of hygge, or comfort, runs deep through Scandinavian culture. The concept celebrates love, friendship, warmth, and contentment.

In the workplace, this manifests as a strong sense of empathy. Leaders and team members do not see each other as cogs in a machine, but as people with complex emotional inner workings. They identify with each other – and at the end of the day, what makes them unique brings them closer together.

It may sound a little warm and fuzzy. But it goes a very long way toward creating a healthy and productive work atmosphere. Team members who feel acknowledged and cared for feel connected to something greater than themselves. They come together to create a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Leading a team may not be easy. But if my leadership career has taught me anything, it is this: your people are worth it. Not just because they are the arms and legs of your organization. Not just because they drive your bottom line. But because helping them realize their potential – personal or professional – is all that leadership is. As my mentor John Maxwell says, leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.

That’s all for now.

Become your best version,


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