Category Archives: Leadership

9 tips to prevent digital stress and organisational mess

I’ve launched a new talk today and I’m very happy about it 🙂

Last year I spoke at a lot of digital marketing and social media events. I noticed a tendency that worried me. Many people were approaching me after the talks and sharing that their work had become far too Sofie Sandell new talk about prevenitng digital stressstressful because of omnichannel and multichannel marketing strategies, plus that conflicts and lack of creativity made them exhausted. Leaders and managers who are not aware of how to organise people, time and resources are making the people I spoke to feel miserable.

This, combined with the fact that I was working on a set of standards to prevent digital stress, prompted me to put together a new talk ‘Prevent digital stress and organisational mess’. 

The talk focuses on collaboration and leadership to enhance the working environment of teams that are influenced by the shift in digital technology.

We are just in the beginning stages of technological development and technology is going to make everything more complex. Collaboration, the ability to improvise and leadership are all important elements in coping with future changes.

You can download a PDF with the 9 tips here.

Sign up to the 30-day challenge: Prevent Digital Stress and Organisational Mess.

“A bad manager may actually be more dangerous for you than a sabre-toothed tiger was for contemporary people.”

Lennart Levi, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial Medicine



Sofie Sandell

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Brands and choices. Getting noticed and long-lasting effects

The other week I was on my spring mission: to buy a new pair of sneakers. My mother was with me and we ended up in a large sporting goods store where I tried on a few different pairs. A young man was helping me out and he showed me different styles. The 20-meter-long wall was full of shoes in all shapes and sizes designed for any sporting activity you could imagine.

When we were sitting down my mum asked the shop assistant: ‘How can you tell the difference between all these bands and know where you keep them?’

‘After a few weeks in the job you learn exactly where everything is.’

Then my mother found a pair of simple, classic white sneakers. ‘When I was a teenager this was the only option we had.’

In the end I picked a black pair with a colourful pattern on them. It’s not easy to choose the ‘right’ pair of sneakers or trainers. I wondered what it would be like if there was only one type of shoe.

Later in the week I went for a long walk with a friend and we discussed options, choices and making up your mind. It’s not easy to be human and to have to make up your mind all the time. We have commercial forces that are great at developing new products and models and you build your identity based on what you do and what you wear. Confusing for sure.

It was a lovely sunny day and with our minds sharp we decided to double the distance of our walk. Our next leg was up a steep hill.

My friend was telling me about her son and his new ‘thing’. ‘He is doing boxing training and it’s just five minutes’ walk from where we live.’

‘Aha, cool. Is it a special kind of boxing or just basic boxing?’ I asked her, thinking it could have been Thai boxing or something similar.

‘No, only basic boxing; lot of discipline. The coach is a big shot from the US.’

‘Sounds fun.’

‘There was a trainer visiting them last week and he had been involved in boxing for years. He said that the Boxing Association’s membership is declining.’

‘Okay, no wonder,’ I said with my marketing hat on. I was thinking of all the new martial arts that have become popular in the last 30 years.

‘He tried to blame the other sports like Kickboxing, Judo, Jujitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Capoeira, Karate and Taekwondo, and that it’s because of them that there are so few people interested in boxing. But if you look at sport 30 years ago and compare it with today, the total number of young people practising any martial art is much bigger. And that’s good, right!’

‘Sounds familiar to me,’ I said. All brands, events and activities have so many more competitors these days. Just reflect on the different kinds of holidays you can go on today. Thirty years ago there were only a few options, like ‘cold, warm or city’. Now you have wildlife holidays, walking retreats, silence retreats, and cultural trips or you can go on a long train journey or any other special vacation you can imagine.

It’s not easy for brands to stand out in the mix. Importantly, almost all the choices we make are in some ways ethical. Some philosophers say that we become the person we are thanks to the choices we make. Decisions become habits, and habits somehow define who we are.

Get yourself notices on notice board

For years, I’ve bought a few new pairs of sneakers per year. Why do I choose the brands I do?

For my friend’s son, who loves sports, the choices he and his family make for him will influence him for a long time. I can still hear the words that my handball trainer spoke to my team and me when I was 13 years old: ‘We only have one rule, and that is that you are never allowed to say that you can’t. If you do that you influence your mind and your team. Just try again, and then again, and again.’ That rule had a long lasting effect on me. Could I have guessed that back then? No, but what you choose to do over a period of time will stick in your mind, heart and soul.

So why in a morally confused world would anyone choose your brand? What do you bring to the table? And how do you describe the long-lasting effects?

These are profound questions that all brands should spend time thinking about and discussing.


Thank you for reading. If you think your network would like to read the article please share it.

I read every email, comment, and tweet that you send me, so please do reach out. To tweet me connect on @Soffi_Propp.

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The ‘right or wrong’ with technology and the connected world

A couple of days ago I had a chat with an acquaintance about technology and social media. I’ve been using and educating in the area of social media and digital leadership for years. Connectivity is fantastic and scary at the same time.

When we spoke, I was told I was negative when pointing out the risks with digital technology and connecting online.

It made me think quite deeply about what I’m doing. Shall I only speak and write about the shallow things around life online? Maybe I should just write blog posts that are in the style of ‘5 simple ways to use social media better’. It would be pretty easy; then I could even outsource my writing to someone else.

Many people have moved a significant part of their life online, and what happens there is not like playing a game, it’s as real as everything else in life.

Social media and the connected world is complicated. And there is no way out of it. We are going to be even more connected in the future whether we like it or not. Every year a few hundred million are going to get access to the internet. More people can afford a smartphone and use social media in many different ways.

Daily we are witnessing how ISIS is utilising social media to spread their message. The next moment we see a post about crazy cats on social media. Our online life is a mix of good and bad things.

Once when I was bored at a conference, I started writing a good old SWOT analysis about the digital economy. I would like to finish it with the help of you; then we can look at the SWOT when we have a moment of doubt whether our connected life is right or wrong.

SWOT Analysis, Vorlage

Here is the SWOT I wrote, in no particular order:


  • Many digital devices to choose from – the internet of things is growing
  • Better and faster communication and new ways to connect
  • Cheaper to stay connected with people around the world
  • Less travel and carbon footprint, if we choose to
  • Hundreds of new marketing ideas and solutions
  • People love to use and explore new technology
  • Opens up for collaboration and partnership
  • More data and information available
  • Social media is connecting the world
  • Flexible working possibilities
  • Less paper (or maybe not)
  • Improving productivity
  • More transparency
  • It’s here to stay


  • Bad customer service (should be forbidden to set up a business and then screw your customers over)
  • We have to dig in the ground, to rewire and connect people with faster broadband service
  • We are not sure what ‘best practice is’ because it has not been done before
  • Not enough young people are interested in tech and especially young girls
  • Organisations and teams are working in silos due to too many emails
  • You must sign up for long supplier contracts, like 12 or 24 months
  • Poor scrutiny of online sources. What information can we trust?
  • Slow broadband and you pay for more speed than you get
  • Bad technical infrastructure to build new services on
  • Not enough strong leaders who can drive  change
  • Trends move forward quickly. Difficult to keep up!
  • Online storage takes a lot of space and resources
  • Big confusion over who owns your personal data
  • Digital development is a bit ad hoc and messy
  • Websites and Apps have poor usability
  • Information overflow on the internet
  • Everyone can’t afford to be online


  • With your smartphone, you have information at your fingertip
  • People who never had a voice in the past can connect online
  • Online communities are gathering power and knowledge
  • Limitation due to geographically boundaries are smaller
  • More people will learn to code and create new solutions
  • You can take more courses online and educate yourself
  • New business opportunities are created all the time
  • New job roles we have never heard of are created
  • More ways for brands to connect with consumers
  • We can share our experiences easier with others
  • The web is opening up for magic connections!
  • New connectivity thanks to social media
  • You can track your own health data
  • Online tools make design easier
  • Easier to shop from home
  • Improving healthcare


  • Digital illiteracy equals bigger inequality. In the UK, 10 percent don’t have access at all to the web
  • Not setting big and ambitious goals about what we want to achieve with our digital economy
  • Lack of awareness of impact of digital technology and what it does to people
  • People are not expressing their opinions online due to the threat of trolling
  • The recruitment industry is broken and under the power of ‘keywords’
  • The giants such as Facebook and Google have too much power
  • Investments in new technology and education are too small
  • The dark web where you can trade illegal goods (it’s huge)
  • Organisational cultural change takes far too long time
  • Grooming of children and vulnerable people online
  • Our self-image changes when we spent time online
  • Data loss, it’s easy to forget to backup data
  • Many governments spy on their citizens
  • Online trolling and online bullying
  • Freedom of speech being abused
  • Talent management is harder
  • Lack of digital skills
  • Security issues
  • Privacy issues
  • Online fraud

What should I add. Please share your thoughts.


The connected world

Image borrowed from Mark Zuckerberg‘s Facebook profile. I hope he doesn’t mind 🙂

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Deloitte’s CEO Punit Renjen’s inspirational new year message turns into corporate bullshit

I recently stumbled across an email sent out by Deloitte’s CEO, Punit Renjen, in mid-January. If you use too many clichés in your writing, speaking or coaching, people will stop listening. And this is what Punit Renjen did, his email felt like a Punit Renjen, CEO Deloitterubbish-bag full of corporate jargon and clichés.

He says he promises: ‘to deliver an exceptional, and consistent, global talent experience across the Deloitte network.’ 

It means… nothing really…

Another sentence: ‘In return, I ask that you resolve to live Deloitte’s purpose and join our journey to undisputed leadership.’ 

Humans don’t live a business’s purpose, sorry no-one does, and no-one should. And there is no undisputed leadership. Leadership and what it means can always, and should always be discussed and alive.

The last sentence: `‘P.S. My New Year’s resolutions include approaching my role with a mindset that “anything positive is possible in our organization” and achieving a bit more work/life balance.’ 

Does ‘with a mindset that anything positive is possible’, mean that anything that Punit Renjen define as positive is possible? What positive means is very subjective. Positive for whom? When will it be positive, today or in ten years?

That the CEO of one of the largest consultancy firms in the world use language in such a sloppy way is embarrassing – please, give me a shame pillow now!

shame pillow gif

The FT columnist Lucy Kellaway made the following comment about the Deloitte email: ‘Anyone in possession of even a normal IQ would wonder why they were working there.’

Here is the full message

Let’s swap resolutions: Living our purpose #12


We have said “Hello, 2016!” and now it is time for resolutions. One of my resolutions is to join with member firm leadership to deliver an exceptional, and consistent, global talent experience across the Deloitte network.

This promise is articulated through four key pillars: 1) to help you make an impact, 2) inspire you as professionals, 3) accelerate your ambitions, and 4) connect and celebrate your unique strengths (more on these pillars soon).

To deliver on this promise, Deloitte will invest to set expectations and help develop consistent capabilities within each role level. So no matter where you practice, you have the same exceptional skills as your peers.

In return, I ask that you resolve to live Deloitte’s purpose and join our journey to undisputed leadership. At the World Meeting this past June, participants signed the Deloitte Journey Declaration attesting we would take this journey – together. Since then, I have traveled the world and asked partners and directors to join the journey (over 7,400 of them have already signed). Now it is time for all Deloitte professionals (you) to declare the same commitment, because it will take all of us to achieve our global aspiration!

These resolutions spring from the foundation of what it means to be Deloitte. We will take this journey so that we can proudly declare we have kept our promises to ourselves, to each other, and to all those we serve.

My best, Punit

P.S. My New Year’s resolutions include approaching my role with a mindset that “anything positive is possible in our organization” and achieving a bit more work/life balance.

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Twitter’s branding dilemma – a letter to Twitter’s new CEO Jack Dorsey

Dear Jack,

I’ve been following the debate about Twitter’s future with great interest lately, and now that you are the CEO and thus at the helm of Twitter I thought I would share some thoughts.

Over the years I’ve discussed social media and the use of Twitter with people at my masterclasses. Many find Twitter very complex. The growth of Twitter is slow if you compare it with some of the other social networks available, and here are some dilemmas that I often hear about.

Twitter has a troll problem = branding issues. For a long time there was complete silence from Twitter about trolls and the harassment that takes place on the platform. If you are hesitating about signing up and read about the haters all the time, then you won’t be keen to join the community. Twitter is the Wild West for haters, and that stops people from getting involved.

An other branding problem has to do with the platform’s users, and the perception of who they are. For many it feels as if the people who traditionally have had power, politicians, journalists and academics, are Twitter’s most frequent users. There are a lot of people who don’t feel that they belong in that mix and therefore don’t bother.

Then we have the length of the message and writer’s block. The 140-character limit awakens the inner critic in people’s heads. Yes, I know that you can link to a website and write a longer message there, or take a screen grab of a message, or add a video, but the whole point of the platform is that it gives you the ability to share thoughts that matter to you right now and the way you want.

When you sign up to Twitter there is no introduction to the service. It takes less than a minute to set up an account (this entry barrier is very low) and then there’s silence.

There is no customer service. Or if there is it’s invisible. When someone has a problem with their account it would be useful to have support from human beings, not just forms to fill in and automatic email replies.

Changing one of the most important functions from a star to a heart was a brave move in making Twitter feel more human. Let’s see what the users think about it and if they ‘heart’ more tweets than they starred.

What you really need to ask yourself is who would miss Twitter if it wasn’t there any longer (I would) and what kind of information wouldn’t be shared if you couldn’t tweet?

Good luck rebranding Twitter. It’s needed!

Sofie Sandell


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Stress – how much can the individual really do about it? Reflections about Stress Awareness Day

This Wednesday, 4th November, was National Stress Awareness Day in the UK. Stress is a topic that I think is of huge importance and we should discuss it more. Nevertheless, if I hear one more tip about mindfulness and meditation to combat stress I will scream out loud. I’m not saying it’s wrong but, please, acknowledge that there are many factors beyond our personal control that increase the stress we experience.

How should we combat the kind of stress that is increasingly influencing all of us? That is, badly organised workplaces, i.e. as poor leadership and management, a never-ending flow of information and society’s high expectations.

There are countless coaches and therapists around to help us get a clear picture of what’s wrong and right with us. Self-development seems to be the cure to everything. But is it really helping us fix the big, overall problem of stress? Self-medication is also a popular way to combat stress; common treatments are yoga, silent retreats, pizza, cookies, and a few sizable glasses of wine.

In the last few years the use of smart digital devices has increased hugely; we are now available twenty-four-seven. When are you working? And when aren’t you working? There are no clear boundaries, so how can we relax and calm down when there is always a new message or notification demanding our attention?

In the workplace we need to stay up-to-date with new technology. The web delivers new information all the time and there is a never-ending flood of data around us. Also, there are plenty of technology systems that are mixed together in a non-smooth way that steal our time and energy.

Statements about lifelong learning leave us feeling unsatisfied because we are never fully trained and there is always something new to learn. There are hundreds of articles confirming that the only thing we know for sure is that change is a constant. How healthy is this for humans, really? Then, on top of that, we are asked to live ‘in the moment’ and be present. If you are still stressed after your mindfulness course you can only blame your own mind-set. Something is wrong with you.

A fast-paced workplace that’s badly structured will be okay for some individuals, but then there are more sensitive people, or people who are less resilient because of something that has happened in their life. What do we do with them? Is there space for more vulnerable people?

On a larger scale there is a need for compassionate and inclusive leadership, which will lead to better results and less stress.

Is it time to use the awareness we get from being more mindful to develop better leaders and sustainable work structures?

And, finally, it would be great if we could all meditate together and create enough energy so we don’t care about all the stressful expectations that are so deeply embedded in our culture.


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Wisdom and Knowledge, Which Should You Aim For?

Last week I was discussing wisdom and knowledge and which you should aim for with Filipe Carrera and Peter Milligan in a Google Hangout which we broadcast live online.

I found the topic extra appealing since my name, Sofie, means wisdom. I love it when people tell me that my name means wisdom, something that happened a few times every day when I was in Greece last year.

Wisdom is a trait we love to praise and it’s a fascinating subject. One of the big questions is whether you can teach wisdom. It is clear that you can teach and share knowledge, but wisdom?

Knowledge is the information, skills and understanding that people obtain through education, training, work and other activities. To be seen as knowledgeable about a certain topic gives you high status in most societies in the world.

Photo Pixabay by jarmoluk

Wisdom is much deeper than knowledge and involves making sensible decisions and giving good advice drawing on your life experiences and knowledge.

I have a good friend who spent many years sharing her wisdom with others but she was not very wise when it came to herself. I remember this so well because she had to release herself, from her own emotional confusion, to be wise in her own life. I think this is pretty common among emotional human beings.

Photo Pixabay by Simon

Can you be wise if you are making decisions that are only good for yourself and only work in the short term? Most likely not. Choices based on wisdom involve both yourself and the people around you and are beneficial in the long term.

In the Hangout session, Filipe, Peter and I talked about Volkswagen and the huge lack of wisdom their organisation has shown in the emissions scandal. They must have been suffering from group thinking and been stuck in a counter-productive power structure to allow this situation to arise. The common brain in the organisation had thorough knowledge about how to build a car and how emissions software systems work but, as we all now know, wisdom was not involved.

The biggest threat to developing wisdom is thinking you know it all. Wisdom is directly connected to staying humble and having an open spirit. There are so many things we don’t have a clue about.

In some organisations the development of knowledge and wisdom is seen as important and you are rewarded by others when you learn and develop your thinking. In other places intellectual skills are not praised and if someone points out that something is wrong they become an outcast. Common wisdom is not developed in these organisations.

To develop wisdom you must ‘think outside the box’ and see the bigger picture of the problem you are facing. Wisdom contains a wish for deeper understanding and a curiosity for learning. This might sound a bit hippy-dippy, but wisdom is connected to something that’s bigger than the human mind. Wisdom has a place in all spiritual practice and can feel abstract since it’s hard to describe.

Image Pixabay by geralt

I remember overhearing a conversation between two young women when I was a student in Lund, Sweden. They were talking about a person they did group work with and one of them said: ‘But he is over 40, he must know how to fix this problem.’ I can’t remember the details of the problem, but I do recall the claim that someone who is a bit older should have gained more wisdom.

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. I recently listened to an interview on Swedish radio station P1 with Ursula M. Staudinger, who’s been developing a method to measure wisdom, and she said that there are no guarantees that age makes you wiser, you have to work hard to become and stay wise. If you are not open-minded about life and are not curious about new opportunities you can fall into the trap of limiting your thinking in a strict and rigorous way.

Staying humble, open-minded and curious are three ingredients you need to gain and sustain wisdom. And to answer the question whether you should aim for knowledge or wisdom I think both.

If you would like to watch the Google Hangout episode mentioned in this blog you can check it out on YouTube. Our next Hangout is 26th November and we will discuss what is real work is and if the work we do today makes sense. More information will be added on my website soon and you can sign up to my Digital Leadership Inspiration newsletter here.


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What Is the Connection Between Leadership and Digital Stress?

Last week I was at a ‘meet and share’ lunch event with The Social Media Club Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden, at collaborative workspace Entrepreneurial Hive.

The theme for this lunch was digital stress, a topical subject. Stress-related illnesses cause burn-out and mental illness and stress is one of the main reasons people are off work.

One of the questions we discussed was: How can we create digital health and wellness both in our private life and work life?

The moderator of the event, Niklas Angmyr who’s an expert on digital stress, kicked off the lunch by sharing some ideas and thoughts about a better digital work life.


He started by telling us that apps and information on the web are designed to encourage us to constantly go and check them out. They are built to get us addicted to information. We form habits around how we work with them and applications such as the web, social media and email are all calling for our attention all the time.

When we carry our digital devices with us it means that we bring our work with us everywhere we go. It’s right there in our pocket or on the table next to us. Our brain and body are never really disconnected from our work life.

If your brain is switched on all the time there is very little room for reflection and relaxing.

Angmyr also mentioned that about a year ago German Minister Andrea Nahles proposed a regulation to reduce workplace stress, which suggested banning employers from contacting workers after hours.

I like the idea of not sending emails in the evening or late at night. And if you work late there must be a solution where you can save your emails as drafts and auto-send them in the morning.

Ideally, digital tools should support us and help us work better together, but unfortunately they often have the opposite effect and cause digital stress.

Is it the organisational structure’s or the individual’s fault?

What causes digital stress is different for everyone. For some people it’s the technical functions of digital technology that stresses them out. For others it’s the enormous, never-ending flow of emails. One person I met at the lunch said: ‘I always hunt for likes and shares, and I want my network to pay attention to what I do. In the long run this is pretty stressful.’

The big question is: Is it the organisational structure’s or our individual responsibility to prevent digital stress? The answer is that it’s a combination of both.

If you are part of a disorganised, under-managed workplace it’s difficult to manage digital stress. You will find yourself constantly swimming against the current, which isn’t sustainable in the long run.


If an organisation uses too many information and communications technology (ICT) systems this will cause issues when you try to get them to work together.

The more digital ingredients you add to the menu the more confused the dinner guests around the table will feel. Two common symptoms of digital technology overload are slow computers that take ages to start up and people not knowing how to use the different systems.

Bad meeting cultures

An acquaintance showed me his work diary last week. It was more or less fully packed with meetings from 09.30 to 17.00 every day. He didn’t have much time for reflection. He also admitted: ‘I never pay attention in all these meetings, I only listen at the end when we make the decisions.‘ I wonder how many people are actually in the mood for discussion and conscious listening when attending work meetings all day long.

A bad meeting culture is one of the many signs that an organisation needs to organise its knowledge exchange in a better way.

We manage large amounts of information every day and if you have better control over where it comes from you are going to be better at preventing digital stress.

Well-performed digital collaboration creates a more attractive workplace. And an organisation that handles knowledge well will also improve its employer branding.

Current knowledge issue: Knowledge is saved in email inboxes instead of in a collaborative space where everyone can access it.

Causes digital stress

  • Meaningless and too many key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Strict rules
  • Too many meetings
  • Poor leadership and management
  • People keeping information to themselves

Prevents digital stress

  • Collaboration and openness
  • Well-managed meetings
  • Thoughtful branding and vision for the work you do
  • A continuous feedback system
  • Trust

An organisation with disorganised leaders and poor managers who don’t care enough to set up a structure that works will create digital stress and an anti-human workplace.

Leaders and managers who care about the flow of knowledge and structure will be much more successful and will prevent digital stress.

Some tips that I jotted down after listening to the group discussions at the Social Media Club Gothenburg

  • Switch off the sound on your devices. Even if it doesn’t disturb you it will disturb other people around you.
  • Write better emails and avoid cc-ing too many people.
  • Be mindful of the position of your desk so you won’t sit awkwardly for too long and suffer back and neck issues.
  • Have breaks on a regular basis when you are working. This is very important if you are passionate about your work! One participant told us about her dog that used to remind her to take regular breaks away from the computer.
  • Some people found list tools such as useful.
  • Learn about information flow in your organisation.
  • Have regular ICT 1-2-1 sessions where people can go and ask ICT-related questions. People are much more effective when they know how to manage their own devices.
  • Get better at organising meetings and skip all unnecessary meetings. One company I heard of isn’t allowing anyone to bring smartphones, tablets or laptops into meetings and as a result people pay attention when they are there.




The Social Media Club Gothenburg is run by Maria Gustafsson och Lotta Gergils-Aston, both well-known networkers and collaborators, and has hosted monthly lunches since 2009. We were about 50 people at the lunch sitting around six round tables. After lunch every group shared their discussion on stage. The motto of the SMC is: If you get it, share it.

Link to Social Media Club Gothenburg

Hashtag #smcgbg

Photos Sina Farat and Fotolia alphaspirit.

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The 7 Modern Deadly Sins of Digital Leadership

How do we create and nurture a leadership style that will be good for people, the planet and the society we live in?

I’ve been inspired by medical consultant Stefan Einhorn, a Swedish author and Professor of Molecular Oncology, who’s written a book about the modern seven deadly sins.

The ‘old’ deadly sins, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony, are more than 1,500 years old. In his research Einhorn surveyed and interviewed over 1,000 people in Sweden to learn what they thought were the seven modern deadly sins.

I’ve adapted these modern deadly sins and applied them to my digital leadership philosophy – which in this case can also be seen as leadership based on modern values.

All human beings have a range of traits and you need to recognise that you might have some of the bad ones to actually do something about them. One of the top features of great leadership is self-awareness.

7) Greed
This is the only one of the old deadly sins that made it to the new top seven. Greed in the modern world shows itself when we only think about ourselves. A whole organisational culture can be built on greed and destroy the organic system we live in. Short-term goals and investments can be made because of decisions motivated by greed. Many of the people involved in the FIFA scandal were driven by greed. Not very popular!

We need to make investments that are good for the future and not just for individuals and small groups. Greed in the digital world is also about not sharing. The new economy is about sharing knowledge, resources, insights and many other things. We need leaders who know that sharing matters.

6) Xenophobia
The world is global and connected; people have different backgrounds and experiences. We organise ourselves into different groups, which can be anything really: by country, language, gender, favourite football team, school, the way we dress and so on. We differentiate ourselves by saying ‘I’m not like them’. It’s quick and simple. We blame problems on groups that are different from us. This is a critical and global issue. Every way in which we can develop our understanding of each other’s differences and learn to accept them needs to be explored. Most importantly, learn about yourself and when you need to control your xenophobic impulses.

5) Bigotry
Intolerance of other people’s ideas, opinions and beliefs is poison to the world. Narrow thinking and having a narrow worldview doesn’t create space for understanding and great leadership to develop. In the digital world leaders who are technophobes and against innovation and creativity are guilty of this modern sin.

4) Bullying
Great leadership involves taking bullying and angry behaviour seriously. It needs to be on every leader’s agenda to never tolerate any kind of repeatedly blunt and brash behaviour. In the dark corners of the web there are many trolls hiding; this cowardly behaviour needs to be prevented. Leaders in all organisations need to genuinely look into this problem.

3) Ruthlessness
This trait is nothing to be proud of. Ruthless leaders, just stop it now. The world doesn’t need this behaviour and if you are acting in this way you need to change now. It might have been good in the past when conquering new lands, but today? No, don’t think so.

2) Hatred
We can hate things and situations, but don’t let your decisions be based on hate. Strive to understand the world around you. Decisions made when you are driven by hate will often be dangerous for others. Lots of madness in the world has been created because of frenzy and hate.

1) Falsehood There is nothing worse than people lying to us. We appreciate authentic people who are true to themselves and others. One thing that often comes up and seriously annoys people is people who steal credit and ideas from others. Hypocrisy and falsehood was voted the worst deadly sin by most people in Einhorn’s research. Sincerity and good intentions are traits that we all appreciate.

We need more leaders who are keen to explore their leadership style and behaviour. Nobody is totally evil, nor is anyone a saint. We all have different traits in varying degrees. Humans are complex creatures that are hard to fully understand. There is no single person who is perfect, but we can all work on our tolerance and acceptance of others. We live in this world together, not alone.

In some situations we care about our closest friends and family members, and in others we don’t care about others at all. Maybe you have experienced a similar situation?

Thank you Stefan Einhorn for your inspiring research.


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Leadership, Micro-management and Lack of Trust

I was having breakfast with a friend the other day and we started to talk about work, our good and bad experiences and everything that comes with them.

My friend said something that stuck in my mind: ‘I only have to look at my old manager’s LinkedIn profile to realise how lucky I am in my current job. The look of her face makes me appreciate what I have and what I do.’

It was funny and sad at the same time.

The main problem as she described it was that she was micro-managed.

The manager wanted everything done her way. She would clearly tell everyone that she wanted a report by Friday 11am, but she still expected everyone to prioritise the report and complete it before doing any other tasks. Of course, this led to conflict and communication issues.

The manger’s team would get the report delivered on time and she would then let them know she was annoyed about getting it on Friday at 11am instead of immediately. She gave people a choice and then didn’t accept that they had different working styles and different priorities.

Modern management styles often focus on tolerance, empowerment, acceptance and collaboration.

A collaborative business requires a different kind of leader: a leader who builds up a good team based on trust and less micro-managing.

When we dare to tolerate people who are different we do the world a favour. Empowering everyone creates diversity and new ideas. Micro-management gets you a team of robots who never think for themselves.

You will never hear a leader say ‘let’s focus on the small picture’.

A more entrepreneurial approach to problems and threats will challenge your current strategy and maybe your whole existence. To dare to do that you need to learn to let go more often.

To show that you care about your team you need to let them know that it’s okay to be who they are and that you appreciate their uniqueness. This can be challenging if you aren’t aware of your own behaviour and how it affects the people around you.

A leader without self-awareness is not going to be a successful modern leader. You need to be able to assess yourself and your leadership style to understand how you can inspire people and why you might clash with certain individuals. Conflicts will always arise, and that’s ok. What matters is that you care about other people even if there is a bit of tension between you.

It’s hard to share your wisdom and knowledge with your team if you don’t know how to share it through kindness. There is a lot of information around and when people respect each other’s differences they are more likely to listen to each other.

Respect and recognition is something that everyone needs and when we feel we get it we are more likely to collaborate.

We don’t all have to think and act in the same way to show respect and care for each other.

In the case of my friend’s micro-managing boss it might have been too late to fix the problem because the trust was already terribly damaged.

Without trust it’s hard to expect loyalty from either your employees or customers.

We need to remind ourselves that we must appreciate people just the way they are as often as we can. It’s not easy, as we tend to think ‘my way is the right way’.

Trust is gained over time; there is no quick fix. When a person is always expressing that she or he distrusts you then it leaves room for self-doubt and it sets you up for failure and disengagement. In that kind of environment the micro-management leadership style will flourish.

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Thank you! Sofie


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