Helle Rask Schmahl

CEO, Business Learning

When I became a Stifinder in 2007, I was employed as Senior Project Manager at LEGO, and it soon became clear to me that there were some really important links between the way LEGO and Stifinder work on things that have been important to me in my development as a leader and human being.

22 Project leaders and an Indian
Together with another leader, I introduced Stifinder’s coach, Marc Drouin (Hawk), to 22 LEGO project managers. We were a little nervous about the outcome, but it was absolutely awesome and we had him with us on two further occasions. Amongst other things, we have worked hard on authentic management style – to find the depths of yourself as a leader and uncover where you have potential and where your pitfalls lie – and of course how to use that knowledge.

An important aspect when you want to move from an authoritative leadership style to authenticity, is nonverbal communication – a competence we have had the opportunity to train in collaboration with Stifinder. If you want to create a natural companionship with others rather than forcing them to follow you, the key is very much about how you are present. Having worked deliberately with my behaviour and presence, I have experienced how I can influence moods, decision making and results with my mental or indirect energy. This means a lot to myself and others.

Where it really counts
As project manager, I had to pass on the competencies to my project managers who, after all, have project staff. Not by referencing my own course, but through the way I acted. They should feel it. As a project manager, you must strive to be a lighthouse that stands firm when the wind blows. We constantly experience changes in everyday life – and in these situations, the project manager must be able to remain calm and effective in helping his team to make the right decisions about what can be done now and how to act proactively next time – that requires authentic leadership.

For me, it was clear that this is where I find the way to get close to my employees as human beings – close to some conventions that can be challenged and changed. I dare to talk about sensitive subjects – and I dare to take deep conversations with the employees about important and private things. I dare to talk about sensitive subjects – and I now dare to take deep conversations with the employees.

A push to own borders
I have participated in a lot of management courses, but the Stifinder Programme is, without doubt, the one that has had the greatest impact on my life and my management style. To give myself space and space to reflect on which leader and what person I want to be, professionally and personally, is something that has pushed my limits on how I act and how I think.

My new work-life
In my current job as a Business Learning director, we work with many different companies, management teams and employees, helping them to lift themselves within leadership, innovation, project management, LEAN and change management. Also in this job I bring the competencies that I have rehearsed through my role as a long-standing leader in different contexts, often based on the experience and tools I learned in the Stifinder context. I am very grateful for the influence the Stifinde Programme has had on my professional as well as my private life.

Stifinder has also changed my picture of how much I can do, and it has given me a far more nuanced picture of what can be done. I have opened up to my innermost core, and it has contributed to me today feeling that I have a lot to offer. It has become easier to be faithful to my values and to do what is right for myself and others. Especially important to me is to: “GROW people and businesses”.