Business Learning ApS

When I became a Stifinder in 2007, I was employed as Senior Project Manager at LEGO, and it soon became clear to me that there were some really important links between the way LEGO and Stifinder work on things that have been important to me in my development as a leader and human being.

Together with another leader, I introduced Stifinder's coach, Marc Drouin (Hawk), to 22 LEGO project managers. We were a little nervous about the outcome, but it was absolutely awesome and we had him with us on two further occasions. Amongst other things, we have worked hard on authentic management style - to find the depths of yourself as a leader and uncover where you have potential and where your pitfalls lie - and of course how to use that knowledge.

An important aspect when you want to move from an authoritative leadership style to authenticity, is nonverbal communication - a competence we have had the opportunity to train in collaboration with Stifinder. If you want to create a natural companionship with others rather than forcing them to follow you, the key is very much about how you are present. Having worked deliberately with my behaviour and presence, I have experienced how I can influence moods, decision making and results with my mental or indirect energy.

Where it really counts
As project leader, I have to pass on the skills I have acquired to my project managers, who in turn have their own staff. And as a project leader, you must aim to be a rock that stands firm when the wind blows hard. We are constantly experiencing changes in everyday life - and it is in these times that the project manager must be able to keep calm and help his or her team reflect on what can be done now and how to act proactively next time - which requires authentic leadership.

To me it was clear that this method would lead me to become closer to my employees as humans - and closer to challenging and changing some negative conventions. I also dared to challenge sensitivities - and I wanted to discuss the tasks at hand with much more depth than before. I think this is one of the most exciting things in my work, because now I can deal with issues on a level that really matters.

Pushing my limits
I have participated in a lot of management courses, but the Stifinder Programme is without doubt the one that has had the greatest impact on my life and my management style. On Module 2 in particular, I broadened my limits and challenged my leadership style. I was, for example, tested when I had to take part as a regular project participant without the ability to take control - and I was close to falling apart! But after some great conversations with the coaches, I recognised the importance and necessity of learning to create space for others instead of always taking control myself.

Stifinder has also altered my perspective on how much management I engage in, and given me a much more nuanced picture of what can be done. It can be daunting to take chances and make big decisions, but it's ok. Because I now know that I can handle far more - even over long periods - than I thought was possible.

Helle Rask Schmahl
CEO, Business Learning ApS