Scandinavian management – The four types of Viking bosses

Even though Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland are neighbours there is a big difference in management between the Nordic countries.  Gillian Warner-Søderholm, who teaches at The Institute of Communications,  Culture and Languages at the BI Norwegian School of Management has completed a large study in the form of a comprehensive questionnaire among 700 Nordic managers to look at differences in business culture and communication.

Of the 700, 37 leaders have been subject to longer interviews.  Gillian Warner-Søderholm found four types of Vikings.

nordic flagsStraightforward Vikings 

The Norwegians are the most direct in their way of acting. They do not kid around, do not waste words and are straight shooters. The Norwegians are also the highest scoring when it comes to looking to the future. In other words, they like to plan.

Consensus Vikings

Swedish leaders are determined to come to an agreement through discussion even though it might take a while. They also have more focus on small talk in business.

When it comes to equality among genders the Swedes are almost as good as the Norwegians and they are used to dealing with female bosses.

The individualistic Vikings

The Danish bosses are more individualistic than their Nordic neighbours. They are more aware of the goal and have a strong focus on results. They want things done.

The Danes also have the least hierarchy on the job and Danish employees have a big need to choose their own way to solve a task.

Macho Vikings

The Finnish leaders practise the most masculine business culture in the four countries and have the most hierarchy.The country also has the least degree of equality among genders and women have a harder time reaching top positions in business.  The Finns are hard workers when they are motivated. Developing social skills are of less importance compared to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Gillian Warner-Søderholm thinks that paying attention to differences in the Nordic ways of management could be wise for the various businesses. It reduces the risk of failing in working together and creates valuable partnerships.

“It’s all about having having an open mind and being capable of comparing your own culture to that of the business partner,” says Gillian Warner-Søderholm.

She emphasises that Norwegians see it as obvious that working in groups can be very effective. I Denmark and Sweden they expect a high degree of individual suggestions and competition when it comes to working in groups.

Original article in Danish 

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