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Businesses need less authoritative leaders

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Firms should look for leaders who are less authoritative and more supportive, says Joel Casse, Nokia's global head of leadership development

Speaking at the HR Directors Business Summit in Birmingham, Casse said: "The quintessential factor needed to run a business is knowing the business. We have leaders still drawing on basic assumptions that need to be challenged. Things like top-down leadership are not going to work any longer.

"Leaders also should not hoard information, but let it go and share it. That might not come naturally to some leaders, as knowledge is power, but they cannot operate in walled gardens and need the input of multiple perspectives."

Casse explained that Nokia has been focusing on developing a different kind of leader. "We want to now see leaders as both more challenging and more supportive," he said. "We need leaders that help to develop others. We're looking for something much more balanced, and for that we need CEO buy-in and executive-level buy-in. We still have some issues there.

"It's not been easy. Leaders ask how we expect them to do this when they have 30 people reporting in to them."

Nokia conducted research with Korn Ferry to identify the skills requirements for their future leaders. "The competencies we need are high in demand and low in supply," Casse said. "That means if we get these right then we're ahead of our competition. When you consider your strategy you have to ask 'how will we be different to all the others?'"

Casse was also keen to stress that Nokia's business remains strong. "I was on an aeroplane flying from Munich to Helsinki," he said. " And a man next to me asked me who I worked for. When I said Nokia he said 'Oh, nearly dead then!'

"I said 'Do you use Netflix? What about iTunes? Our business group makes that happen'. You might not be able to see the name Nokia, but we're involved in it."