of leaders living the
In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Telenor has learned a few things about what it takes to lead in a flexible work environment. The company has embraced the Tight-Loose-Tight principle, in which you have to be tight on setting expectations and giving direction, loose on giving people the freedom to find the best way, and then tight again on the follow-up and holding people accountable. We found a few leaders across the Telenor family who have been working this way for a while.
Nationality: Norwegian, but lived in the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Thailand over the last years.
What did you want to be when growing up? An entrepreneur. I actually did follow that through with starting a clothing company with some friends when we were 17 – but ended with bankruptcy. Maybe I’ll try again one day.
When did you become a leader? Six years ago at Nike leading the product strategy for NIKEiD (customised shoes) for Europe. It was a great team with a super diverse background.
What’s your leadership philosophy? My years in Telenor have been focused around Agile Transformation, and I am passionate about the principles and values that come with the culture – mainly servant leadership, empowerment and our very own Tight-Loose-Tight. I believe people want to do their best when given the chance, and our job as leaders is to nurture a system and culture that enables our experts to do their best job.
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a leader? Telenor is a big company, and a lot of major changes happened the last years. My job is to try and modernise Telenor and dtac through improving our processes, team setup and way of work. But change is hard, and bringing everyone along on that journey is an interesting challenge.
What does Tight-Loose-Tight leadership mean, in your own words? For me it’s all about changing the management focus from output to outcome – understanding clearly where we want to go, empowering our teams to figure out how to get there, and then following up in a structured way.
Who inspires you? This is probably going to sound like a cliché, but I have to say Elon Musk. The guy took a massive risk, putting all his money into building electric cars before anyone believed in it and rockets to take us to Mars.
What’s the one thing you want to do once all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted? Travel back to Norway to meet my two new nieces that were born this summer. It’s really fun to be an expat in Bangkok, but I miss being able to see my family and friends during vacations, especially now that we have new family members.
What did you want to be when growing up? When I was growing up, I wanted to be a scientist. I was fascinated with science and thought that searching for the secrets of the universe was the coolest job to do. While realities of life moved me to other fields, I remain an ardent follower of scientific exploration and try to live by logic and rationality in my own small world.
When did you become a leader? My first leadership experience was back in 2011, when I took the role of Head of Financial Planning in Grameenphone. While it was a tiny unit of three, the role itself gave me a significant cross-functional leadership opportunity in driving the planning process across the company, along with frequent interaction with the management team.
What’s your leadership philosophy? Leadership is a long-term relationship that accumulates the goodwill generated through every interaction. I believe mutual trust and compassionate support are the most important elements to build a team that aims to achieve both success and harmony. If we think of Tight-Loose-Tight, the ‘Loose’ part will only happen if the leader trusts the team’s commitment, while the team feels that they have the safe-space to take decisions and give their best effort.
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a leader? My greatest challenge as a leader is to discover how as a team we can become transformative- to contribute a significant and sustained positive impact in the business and workplace. My fear is to remain consumed by the problems of the day and let time pass by without any significant positive change.
Who inspires you? Any individual, an average person or an international icon - who is stepping out of his/her own self-interest and doing something to serve a benevolent purpose, inspires me. It can be a doctor volunteering for the poor, a politician fighting for minority rights or a billionaire philanthropist trying to solve global problems.
What’s the one thing you want to do once all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted? I would love to regain the freedom of human closeness – a handshake with someone we have a nice conversation with, a hug to a friend we meet after a long time or a celebration with colleagues in a crowded meeting room. I hope that Covid does not leave us more isolated than before.
What did you want to be when growing up? Independent, first and foremost! Secondly, being young during the time «LA Law» aired on TV, I wanted to become a lawyer.
When did you become a leader? I became a leader when I was 25 years, heading a Nordic sales and service team in a Norwegian insurance company.
What’s your leadership philosophy? The most important element of being a leader is the ability to care for your employees, to want the best for them, and to be supportive. As leaders, we can learn and train within the methodology and achieve results with our team. However, it’s all based on a solid establishment of care, emotional connection, and transparency between you and your team.
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a leader? Telenor Infra is still a very new company. So right now, the greatest challenge is to establish the organisation and create a common culture while we at the same time need to ensure safety and keep a distance from each other due to COVID-19. Being able to engage with personnel is one of the strongest impacts I as a leader can have on my team, so now I need to learn how to transfer this ability to the digital arena.
What does Tight-Loose-Tight leadership mean, in your own words? Tight-loose-tight for me is all about setting direction and purpose. Just having control is not adequate for a leader. Through a T-L-T leadership, I can strengthen the self-organised teams with a focus on impact and impact tracking, and I can help create a solid framework and assist in removing obstacles for my team members. I believe that a transparent culture with a focus on testing and learning will achieve good results.
Who inspires you? That’s an easy one! The Telenor Infra employees are my main inspiration and engagement drivers. I’ve also been blessed with working for many great leaders over the last twenty years. I have learned and adopted countless thoughts and tools that have been useful for my own leadership style and philosophy, much thanks to them tossing me great challenges constantly. I love that.
What’s the one thing you want to do once all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted? On the first day, I will give everyone a hug. On the second day, I will call everyone in for a big strategy workshop. I can’t wait to experience the unique engagement and discussions live. Finally, we will enjoy a good and well-deserved meal together.
The CEO of Telenor Infra on building a common culture in times of COVID-19.
Over many years, Telenor has been fortunate to have many capable and committed leaders. Managers across the company have been able to inspire trust within the workforce, and that has been instrumental in ensuring that Telenor has maintained strong motivation and competitive edge.
Trust continues to be at the heart of how we do business at Telenor. However, as the needs of our customers change, so will our ways of working. Increasingly, we are now seeing the need for greater agility in the way we respond to developments in our markets. At the same time, we are also seeing that our own people want greater flexibility.
These growing trends have informed our new definition of how we exercise leadership at Telenor. We call it the Power of Trust: Tight-Loose-Tight.
– The first tight is about setting direction. This involves articulating what we want to achieve, framing the challenge and the way forward, and then enabling people to find the right solutions.
– The next step is loose. Leaders who trust their teams don’t feel the need to micro manage – instead they will be there for them when they need to discuss issues and to help them overcome any roadblocks.
This is about fostering an environment where we give people autonomy to innovate and opportunities to use their skills and experience to deliver the right outcomes.
– The second tight is about following up. We are focusing on the impact – not on the activities that we engage in along the way. At the same time, we want to create accountability for the goals we set ourselves. Importantly, we want to measure outcomes and continuously learn and improve.
As we move forward with Tight-Loose-Tight we will give you examples that illustrate how this approach can be applied successfully when you are working with your projects.
Produced by Telenor