A Managing Director’s Christmas wish list

Dear Santa. No hard feelings, but this one’s not for you.

It has become evident that as companies have begun their journeys towards the new normal – or whatever they want to call the future – the only way to succeed is to take matter into own hands. That is why this wish list from a typical (yet imaginary) Managing Director is not addressed to the North Pole but to the writer him/herself.

To whom it may concern,

I have been such a good person in 2021, a devoted Managing Director working hard to build an environment that would best serve the purposes of my organization, next year and onwards. While I admit that my focus has at times dropped from longer-term planning to daily, operative tasks, I would like to state that in these uncertain times, that is only natural – even when it comes to the most ambitious Managing Directors.

From now on, I promise to work harder than ever to steer my organization out of this mess, to a prosperous future. I am sure that with only a few small presents, I could make it happen.

I would also like to add that unlike the most lists Santa Claus receives, this one has been created after careful consideration. I even had some expert help to make sure every wish is both effective and reasonable: a talk with Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae provided wonderful insight on the characteristics a Managing Director needs, especially at times like these.

Photo of Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae.

So here goes. What this Managing Director wants for Christmas – and next year – is:

Good relationships with my board

We have a strategy, but if I can’t communicate and collaborate with the board the way that makes sense, the results will never show. My relationship with the chairman is essential – it should be appropriate, supportive, and constructively challenging. I need determination to do my part in making it work.

Possibilities to meet in person

The ways of working, values and all those company fundamentals I must agree and align with the board just don’t work in the long run if we keep collaborating only on the remote mode. I need opportunities to meet with the board, to work with them face-to-face, perhaps play a couple rounds of golf together.

Flexibility, speed, and scenario management skills

Those would work wonders at the tennis club, but seriously: if there is one thing that 2021 dramatically clarified, that is the dangers of excess rigidity in decision-making. That must change. I need to be able to view and implement our strategy in a modern way, constantly challenging and verifying it with the board.

Ability to put strategy into perspective

Time and again, I must remind myself that at our strategy is at my responsibility. I can’t hide behind the board and blame them if the strategy does not work. Strategy is a long process so I must be patient both with the board and my employees to achieve the right results.

Persistence to leave my comfort zone

Change is always difficult, but we just can’t stick with what we believe is mediocre just because we don’t want to go through the trouble of changing things. We must be ready to change our strategy if that’s what we need – but only if we need, and only the parts that must be changed. If everything goes well, we can stick with it for decades.

Courage to be myself

2022 will be a year of brave decisions, and I will be in the line of fire from all directions. There is no use to burn any energy for trying to be somebody else. Instead, I should forgive myself for being what I am – and keep doing just that. Genuineness is the foundation of effective communication and trust.

Some fun

Speaking of trust, it is not built in Teams, not even in board meetings or escape rooms. It is built during continuous collaboration that includes laughter and being collectively happy for good achievements. Fun is essential in every aspect of our work, not least in board meetings. I wish we all had the guts to show our emotions: if for nothing else, for pressure equalizing purposes.

That should be a fairly reasonable wish list, don’t you think? If I could receive those items by Christmas, I am sure we’d be ready to roll towards new heights in 2022.

Thank you very much in advance. And thank you Sanna for helping me put this list together. As you so cleverly summarized, we should never waste a good crisis, and after our discussion, I do understand that this whole Covid episode actually provides us with an exceptional opportunity to reorganize ourselves. The times call for courageous change, but soon as the upswing begins, those who have already gotten their act together will start reaping the benefits.

I am so looking forward to 2022!



The Managing Director’s wish list was put together based on an exclusive interview with Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae.





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