Sweden – where every voice is heard
Welcome to Sweden – a place with a unique style of management, where every voice counts. Here, Volvo Cars people tell their stories of leadership, Swedish-style.
“Every voice counts”
There is a unique approach to life in Sweden. You can see it in the cars that Volvo makes. And if you’re a Volvo Cars employee you experience it every day at work. Because, despite having more than 30,000 employees around the world, Volvo still acts like a Swedish company.
That means it designs cars in a distinctive way, and it also means a distinctive style of management. “At Volvo every voice counts,” says Beatrice Simonsson, design engineer. “I can say to my manager, ‘I don’t agree with you, I think we should do it like this.’ But of course I can also say, ‘Sorry, I was wrong, we’ll do it your way.’
“I think it’s very positive that everyone is encouraged to speak up. The management teams are eager to hear your voice and they challenge you to have an opinion. There’s a hunger to innovate here and having an open dialogue helps us to find new solutions. This is what good leadership is about.”
Safety engineer Erik Israelsson agrees: “There’s an open approach, so you can build a decision from the bottom up. If you have a good idea you have the freedom to work together with your colleagues to perfect it. If you can present the right solution you will get the go-ahead from management. That’s a healthy way of working.”
“Having an open dialogue helps us to find new solutions. This is what good leadership is about”
“Creativity and innovation are encouraged”
“Volvo Cars – like many Swedish companies – has quite a ‘flat’ hierarchy that allows everyone in the team to contribute,” says Vito Di Fonzo, lead engineer, audio. “Managers tend to be happy to let people get on with their jobs. They allow everyone to express their opinion, and this encourages creativity and innovation. You don’t feel a need to keep challenging ideas to yourself.”
Sofia Wessman, senior manager, connectivity, agrees. “At Volvo Cars there’s a very Swedish way of talking to your managers,” she says. “They are like your friends. You don’t really think of them as your managers. I also feel that there is a willingness from top management to know what’s happening – they don’t want to be surrounded by people just saying ‘yes’. They are open to new ideas. That gives us an advantage in developing innovative ideas and technology.”
Conny Blommé, senior interior design manager, says: “The style of leadership at Volvo reflects Swedish culture. In Sweden there’s a long history of trusting people to resolve problems in their own way without supervising too much, and that has created a lot of ingenious solutions. In general, Scandinavian people try to avoid conflict and work towards a resolution. It encourages people to find new solutions in a creative way.”
“The style of leadership at Volvo reflects Swedish culture. It encourages people to find new solutions in a creative way”
Senior interior design manager
“A role model for my team members”
Volvo’s continued innovation means getting the right people working well together. Maximilian Missoni, vice president, exterior design, says: “In Sweden there’s this idea of coming to a consensus before you take the next step. It takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. Everybody feels ‘it’s mine, I’m part of this, so I care’.”
Leadership also plays a crucial part in keeping people motivated. Henrik Svensson, manager, audio systems, explains: “Everything starts with people at Volvo and, as a manager, I am a role model for my team members. It’s my job to inspire them, support them and challenge them to do better.”
“As a company, we want to be among the leaders in every area, not only in the products we make, but also the way we do things. That’s what makes us different. That’s the Volvo way.”
“As a manager, I am a role model for my team members. It’s my job to inspire them, support them and challenge them to do better.”
Manager, audio systems
Our window to the world
Throughout history, the human eye has meant different things to different cultures. In ancient Egypt it was worshipped as a powerful symbol of good health and protection, during the Renaissance it represented vision and clarity, whereas the eye that graces today’s American dollar bill is designed to depict guidance and reassurance. But what about for those of us who worship at the altar of the automobile? What do our eyes mean to our enjoyment of our cars and can they really hold the key to a better life on the road?
Nowadays, our air isn’t as clean as it once was. More and more cities across the globe are becoming enveloped in smog and pollution is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Up to 45 per cent of the world’s population now suffers from some form of allergy or hypersensitivity and over 10 per cent suffer from asthma. And when you consider that we now spend more time in our cars than ever before, the need for an effective and reliable air conditioning system has never been greater. This is why Volvo developed the CleanZone philosophy.
Lobster fishing in Sweden
Nowadays, it seems a growing number of people are taking the time to learn to do things the traditional way. It may take a little longer but the reward can be well worth the wait. It was in this frame of mind that we set out to sea to try out a spot of traditional lobster fishing, and discover if there really is pleasure to be found in patience.