Events | September 27, 2023

Caroline Farberger and Annie Lööf on value-based leadership

Practice what you preach as a leader. A value-based leadership is personal; you must trust yourself and know your own values. These were some of the things that board professionals Annie Lööf and Caroline Farberger agreed on when they visited Roschier's Stockholm office to discuss the topic "The important leadership – to stand up for what you believe in".

Annie Lööf is the former leader of the Center Party in Sweden. Caroline Farberger is a tech investor, board professional and entrepreneur who made headlines in 2019 when she went public with her transition from Carl to Caroline. Their discussion was moderated by Marie-Louise Kjellström, working Chairman of the Board at Novare Leadership Academy.

Annie: “I my opinion, value-based leadership is about trusting yourself, being close to your own values. It’s a personal leadership where you must stand up for what you believe in; in a way, it’s straightforward but it can also be tough. Many employees want to be in an environment where the goals extend beyond the financial. It’s up to you as a leader to set those goals and ensure your organization achieves them.”

Caroline: “For me, coming from the private sector, the purpose has long been to deliver profit to my shareholders, period. That goal is no longer relevant. Today, we talk much more about our higher purpose, and what makes customers want to do business with us. It leads to the same goal; more, even larger, profit, but the leadership approach is different. It’s evident in the business world how task-focused we are. My job is to set that goal and create an internal desire to achieve that goal, and, of course, to ensure that everyone understands how we’ll get there. The method might be the same, but the goal is different today.”

Annie: “Having led a political party, I’ve had to work a lot with anchoring. I believe that’s something the business world can learn from politics. In politics, we must set strategies that can then be broken down in all our local districts. What do we believe should be highlighted? How should we be perceived? And how can this be translated into practice throughout the organization? A leader must work strategically with the issue all the time, it’s not something you do once a year but every day.”

Caroline: “I started working towards a more value-based leadership 10-12 years ago. I felt that I began making decisions for different reasons than my colleagues. In the business world, the goals set are often more about advancing your career than about doing what’s best for the company. I broke the “bro-code” that existed – and still exists – and I began to stand out by making decisions that were right, but perhaps short-sighted, for my personal benefit. In this, I no longer feel alone; more and more leaders are focusing on long-term results.”

Annie: “Value-based leadership relies a lot on presence and clarity. It’s not always easy; you as a leader have to maintain the right level to avoid a burnout from all your commitments in the organization. You must be vigilant about yourself so you can cope since it also becomes very personal. I’ve always tried to be present and accessible, in everyday life. I tried as often as possible to bring my lunchbox and have my lunch in the office. Values aren’t just something you describe in a manual and distribute; it’s essential to practice what you preach. I haven’t always succeeded, but I’ve genuinely tried.”

Caroline: Exactly! I’ve always tried to be present and not just sit with my management team. In the office, I always choose the place where there’s the most noise and bustle to be right in the middle of operations and be aware of what’s happening. The CEO job is lonely; there’s no escaping that. You have a management team for advice and support, but in the end, the decision is still yours.

Caroline Farberger’s and Annie Lööf’s best advice:

  • Prioritize and focus your energy and find the forum where you can grow.
  • A value-based leadership should be personal. Trust yourself and stay close to your own values.
  • Remember that you are unique, resist the impulse to imitate normative behavior.
  • Be present in your organization.
  • Don’t feel ashamed of what you’ve done, you did the best you could then – and now.

Annie Lööf and Caroline Farberger participated as speakers in the first of a series of leadership seminars for our clients and stakeholders arranged at the Roschier office in Stockholm.