IMD International

Tackling business challenges and becoming a better leader with ASM

Anders Mittag discusses IMD's Advanced Strategic Management

May 21, 2015

PostNord Vice President Anders Mittag found attending IMD's Advanced Strategic Management (ASM) helped him focus and take a deep dive into the business challenge that he had brought with him to the program.

Denmark has the fastest decline of letter use in the world – last year alone the sector tumbled by 13%. This has meant that PostNord has faced a huge transformation in recent years.

In 2013, it was therefore crucial that as a senior manager Anders could take some time out to focus on how he could support the commercial transformation of PostNord from being a mail company to becoming the leading logistics and communications firm in the Nordic region.

With the full support of his CEO, who agreed that Anders would not be required to check his phone or answer his emails during the course, the Dane attended the ASM program. He took with him the business challenge of how to kick-start the growth of service logistics. The three-week break in Switzerland gave Anders a rare opportunity to take a step back from his busy life, and to dive deep into the challenge and test some of his hypotheses on fellow senior managers from around the world.

By enabling him to interact with like-minded people, Anders says the program created a very good creative environment to gain insights into his behavior and communications skills. During one exercise his peers encouraged him to be less direct, and he learned how to adapt his approach with different nationalities. "They reminded me that I am a tall and very direct Dane whose approach can sometimes be misconstrued as intimidating," says the 38-year-old. He realized this was especially important working in a Nordic company, where sometimes due consideration needs to be given to cultural differences among neighboring Scandinavian countries.

Since then, the company has seen some positive results. Subsequently service logistics rose 50% last year and 60% in 2015 – it is now one of the company's fastest growing markets and part of the PostNord Group's top 10 strategic focus areas towards 2020.

Anders believes his contribution to that success was facilitated by invaluable insight he gained on the advantages of a work-life balance. His time in Switzerland taught him he was not allocating enough time to himself. "I therefore promised myself I would be more active," he recalls. He has since freed up more time for his family. This now gives him balance and more energy to perform better on the job. This new found energy and insight Anders uses to lead the employees in the transformation that PostNord is undergoing. It has also allowed him to be a better leader. "Being a good leader is to be confident in a decision and if you have a vision, you need to be true to that strategy and not just follow the numbers," he says.

As for advice about life, Anders advocates to be true to yourself and your values, advising to express your opinion in a company. "Employees are paid to have opinions, so say what they are!".

Advanced Strategic Management (ASM) is for leaders encountering a specific business challenge or moving into significant leadership positions.


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