The Nordic region has long been known for its unique and progressive leadership and corporate culture. Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions have helped us understand the fundamental traits that define Nordic leadership, and I wish to emphasize the feminine aspect of this leadership, particularly during times of crisis.

Nordic leadership during times of crisis-2

Culture and Core Values

Nordic leadership, as described by Hofstede’s dimensions, is characterized by high individualism, low masculinity, low uncertainty avoidance, and low power distance. This means that individuality and collaboration are highly valued, hierarchy is limited, and there is a high tolerance for uncertainty. These fundamental core values provide a strong foundation for addressing and managing crises.

Empathy is a central component of this leadership, greatly facilitating crisis management.

Empathy as a Key Component

In the spring of 2023, I asked four MBA students from the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology to conduct a study comparing Nordic female leadership with American female leadership. One clear difference that emerged was the use of empathy. American leadership leaned more toward assertiveness, whereas Nordic leadership stands out for its ability to empathize with others and be aware of the feelings and needs of colleagues. Empathy is a central component of this leadership, greatly facilitating crisis management.


Leadership with Empathy

Empathetic leadership means that leaders are attentive, understanding, and supportive of their team members. They are willing to listen to the opinions and emotions of their colleagues and assist them in coping with challenges. This is of paramount importance during times of uncertainty and change.


Empathetic leaders are skilled at managing conflicts within their teams, mediating when necessary, and helping find constructive solutions. This ability is especially valuable when an organization is facing crises or tough decisions.


By demonstrating empathy, leaders motivate their team members to feel more engaged and motivated. Knowing that their leader cares about their well-being can be a strong motivational factor.


Empathy as the Key to Success During Crises

In times of crisis, as we have witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the empathetic aspects of Nordic leadership have become particularly valuable. The abilities possessed by empathetic leaders help build trust within the organization and foster a collaborative work environment that is crucial for handling complex challenges.

It is time to embrace the feminine aspect of Nordic leadership and adopt empathy as a key component.

It is time to embrace the feminine aspect of Nordic leadership and adopt empathy as a key component. By doing so, organizations and businesses can leverage the unique qualities of Nordic leadership to address and overcome crises and create a work environment that is both people-friendly and productive. Empathy is a powerful driving force that not only strengthens relationships but also promotes innovation and success in an increasingly complex world.

Text: Christopher Grahn, Partner & Adj. Professor, Nordic Minds

Christopher is Partner & Head of US and focuses on the Technology, Professional Services and Industrial sectors. He is based in Sweden and the US. Before entering the headhunting industry, he spent more than 15 years serving as a CEO, President, and Board Member of Technology companies in North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe – scale ups as well as established corporations. Christopher is also an Adjunct Professor in Strategy & Innovation at the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA. He has a M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering & Management. With his intercultural knowhow, experiences as an executive and in strategy consulting, Christopher advises Nordic and DACH businesses when entering, scaling up, or strengthening the US business, primarily within the VC/PE, tech, and industrial fields.

Languages: Swedish, English & German.

At Nordic Minds, it is our mission to help organizations find the leaders of tomorrow. To empower individuals and businesses with international growth and making a positive impact on society. And to share Nordic values like transparency, respect and candor with the world.

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