Leaders & Teams

The future cannot be conquered with past competencies

Progress does not stop. It barrels forward, making it nearly impossible for leaders, employees, and companies to keep up. New demands for globalisation and digitalisation must be managed while navigating a landscape of political, economic, environmental, and social changes. The burning platform we stand on is permeated with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is demanding to be a leader in Sweden, it is demanding to be a leader in the world.

Mannaz in Sweden has a new man at the helm, although he is a familiar face at Mannaz.
Henrik Challis, Managing Director in Sweden, brings with him extensive experience in leadership development, corporate strategy, and change management.

“You almost lose your breath when thinking about everything that leaders and companies have to handle. And we do hear that leaders are struggling to keep up. What we excel at in Mannaz is assisting leaders in growing with the task, so they become better at managing the tremendous changes and sky-high demands while making the right decisions,” he explains about his new role.

“We assist, strengthen, and advise leaders based on a hands-on principle. This means that the effect and results must be achieved quickly, while we do not forget to think strategically and long-term. Most of our clients experience significant growth or major changes, and we must evolve with them and become even better,” Henrik Challis adds.

Great pressure on the public sector

As in most of Europe, Sweden also faces demographic and structural challenges. It is a particularly significant challenge within the public sector.

“The math doesn’t add up. More people need help and care, but there are fewer hands and fewer to pay taxes. It’s a major challenge for municipalities, and it’s natural to ask: how do we solve this issue? It’s about innovation, health technology, and cross-cutting efficiency but also about rediscovering some old virtues. The entire healthcare sector needs fresh perspectives, and I am impressed by the willingness to change in the municipalities we work with,” explains Henrik Challis.

In this regard, Henrik Challis mentions trust-based leadership, which has previously been deeply integrated into Swedish companies and organisations.

“As New Public Management, the Anglo-Saxon management style and approach, have advanced, the Swedish trust-based approach has been forgotten. However, I perceive that there is a strong current that wants to bring back the trust-based leadership that we once excelled in here in Sweden. We had a leadership style that worked very well, but when we reached out for something new, we may have lost some of our core. At Mannaz, we believe it is wise of public organisations to rediscover and further develop a leadership style that has taken us far.”

Mannaz in Sweden is poised for growth

Mannaz in Sweden is also experiencing changes, leading to growth and recruitment. There is a focus on being represented across the country and in most industries.

“We are present in Malmö and Stockholm – but we are already considering establishing ourselves in Gothenburg and northern Sweden as well. Fortunately, we are aided by digital systems, that connect us, but over time, physical presence is a necessity,” elaborates Mannaz’s new Managing Director in Sweden.

One is also inspired by the open enrolment course department, which attracts many participants in Denmark.

“Our customised courses and consultancy services are very successful, and we are therefore looking to add open enrolment courses, for example, in project management, facilitation, systemic leadership, and process consultation. Mannaz is a leader in these fields, and it would be a natural next step.”

Mannaz in Sweden has a wide range of successful collaborations with companies and organisations in both the private and public sectors, and several have joined in recent years. This development will continue if it is up to Henrik Challis.

Collaboration has always fascinated me

As a leader, Henrik Challis values collaboration above most things.

“Since I was a boy, I have been fascinated by collaboration. The feeling I got when we worked together and succeeded in something that we could never have achieved alone was unique. How we were more than the sum of each of us – that feeling is still a major driving force in my leadership – yes, in my approach to everything,” he explains.

He can’t help but laugh heartily as he puts words to his leadership role at Mannaz, “my colleagues are experts in leadership. They know everything about leadership. That can be quite anxiety-inducing, but at the same time, they are also the most knowledgeable and fantastic colleagues one can have. I am not afraid to use my vulnerability and concerns, and that has created a good dynamic and strong teamwork.”

Henrik Challis also emphasises that a leader is never alone. You are only a leader in interaction with others. “I believe in bringing vulnerability and openness to the table. I usually tell customers and employees that you don’t get a better boss than what you help create yourself, and fortunately, I have colleagues who help me get into the game and be a good leader. In that sense, I am a very collaborative leader – which I also encourage our clients’ leaders to be.”

I seek learning myself

Henrik Challis is a rare breed – in more than one way. First and foremost, he takes his own medicine. He sets aside time every single week for learning, and he consistently meets that goal.

“Learning is the driving force behind innovation, development, and success, so I see it as a natural priority. The method and medium, however, are less important. It can be a textbook, a conference, a course, a dialogue, or a TED talk – the point is that I am open to new knowledge and continuously scan the landscape for elements that can strengthen myself, Mannaz, and especially the clients we collaborate with.”

He adds, “Currently, I am particularly interested in trust-based leadership 2.0, organisation, and resilience. There is exciting new research in resilience and the complexity of leadership that I am academically interested in. Our clients face some complex challenges, and I always seek new knowledge that can empower them.”

Returning to the point about being a rare breed, Henrik Challis has, among other things, been a ballet student at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, served as an officer in the Swedish Armed Forces, undergone Kaospilot training, been a business owner, responsible for complex projects, and trained leaders at the highest level. He is multifaceted, empathetic, and competent – and together with his uniquely skilled team of colleagues, there is help available for companies that have realised that the future cannot be conquered with past competencies.

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