Leadership and Being Yourself


In my previous blog post I mentioned the yearly award and list of “Future Female Leader of the Year”, presented by Sweden’s organisation for managers, Ledarna. I would in this blog post like to continue on the theme and present the winner of the award Future Female Leader of the Year 2013: Susanne Holmström. She is the Head of Customer Operations Sweden at Tele2, a major European telecommunications operator.

I wanted to introduce her to you and at the same time highlight a different aspect of the concept “fork in the road”. In an interview upon receiving the award, Susanne Holmström explains that she never has had a clear goal for her career, but has instead answered “yes” to the opportunities she has faced. By thus being faced with new situations, she has during her career realized the importance of being yourself and not pretending to be something you are not.

In her first job as a leader, she adopted the style of her previous bosses who used a very aggressive approach to leadership, with loud voice and fist on the table. She did this in order to not be seen as unfitting for the role.  She realized soon that the role as an aggressive boss is not who she is as a leader. Instead she believes in making decisions together, and seeing that all employees understand the matter and what is going on.

So the “fork in the road” that Susanne Holmström was faced with was not one of career choice, but instead she found the courage to be herself. I found her story very interesting because there has been a lot of talk about the leadership style differences between male and female leaders.

The interview with Susanne Holmström really inspired me because it shows that you do not have to have a clear goal from the beginning in order to reach a leadership position in your career. If you take chances and are not afraid to try new things, you will eventually find something you are good at and enjoy doing which will help you climb the career ladder.




Joanna Malmqvist

Karolinska Institutet


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