Dare to see the team’s differences as a strength to be reckoned with

When differences are seen as a strength, we can create truly high-performing teams. That is Jan Forsh’s conviction. He has worked with several of Unicus’s consultants over the years. The insight from these collaborations has contributed to developing his leadership in several ways.

-I strongly believe that differences make strong teams. Leaders who have the ability to see this and bring out the best in the team’s differences will win games, says Jan, adding: I know that’s hard to do and easy to say. Therefore, I encourage you to dare to try!

That Jan Forsh is a leader with a strong passion for leadership issues quickly becomes clear in our conversation. With over 30 years of experience as a leader, both as an employee and consultant mainly in the banking and insurance industry, Jan works today at the consulting company Rumbline Consulting AB.

A match between competence and personality

Already during Unicus’s first year, Jan caught the eye of the company where all the IT consultants have Asperger’s/autism. He already knew Unicu’s CEO, Anders Barnå, and was attracted by Unicu’s unique profile and the competence it could deliver. During this period, he worked as IT delivery manager for customer meeting development at Länsförsäkringar AB and was responsible for the recruitment to the teams.

-Roles as testers require a personality that is very thorough and always strives for high quality, explains Jan. The consultants from Unicus have exactly that.

The match between Länsförsäkringar’s need for careful testers and Unicus’ consultant profiles was a given. At the same time, he does not deny that certain counter-performances are required from companies that bring in consultants from Unicus.

-In my role as a leader, there is no difference between person and person. But the consultants from Unicus have some structural needs that are important to take into account; among other things to create space for the person to need a little extra recovery.

A close collaboration with Anders and consulting manager Malin Allard gave Jan support in creating the right conditions in the workplace. Together with his colleagues, he received onboarding in how the collaboration works and was always able to get in touch with questions.

The importance of a healthy working climate

Today, Jan is a consultant at Handelsbanken and here too he works together with an IT consultant from Unicus. He notes that many of his workplaces have worked actively with diversity over the years. At the same time, he thinks that as a leader you can work more actively with the soft issues, something he himself has gotten better at over the years:

-I have become a better leader with the help of Unicus, says Jan. Then I’m also humanistic and very value-driven.

Bringing together different types of personalities and strengths under a leadership that has the ability to pick the best out of differences, Jan describes as a success factor for creating a high-performing team. All employees have unique needs, this does not only apply to Unicus consultants. That insight has always been there with Jan and the work with Unicus has contributed to empathetic leadership.

-I have switched on an extra radar frequency. The people I have worked with from Unicus mean that we create a healthier working climate. Thanks to the knowledge that this is a person who has slightly different needs, we also become clearer to each other.

Leaders benefit from meeting the needs of employees

It is a fact that the climate in many workplaces is characterized by speed and constant change. Many of us do not have a fixed place to sit and we are expected to deliver on an assembly line. Jan sighs and admits that he has seen many examples of employees being handled in a way that doesn’t really suit him. It has made him think differently:

-As a leader, I make sure to address the person directly and say: Are you okay with this assignment? Do you have what it takes to succeed? Are the expectations clear? The individuals who come from Unicus create an afterthought in me that is fundamentally a healthy way of looking at one’s employees.

At the same time, a sympathetic approach also places higher demands on leadership. It is based on a consensus where both parties agree on what is important. In order to find forms of cooperation that work both in the short and long term, openness, mutual trust and clarity are required.

-You have to respect the fact that leadership becomes a little more multifaceted, says Jan. As a leader, you need to take in new perspectives and be more compliant, depending on which individuals you have in the team.

Text: Karolina Örsta