It’s hard to be a good leader in a complex world

Isabella Holmquist, Area Sales Manager at ECOMAL, was recommended to try EFL’s management program Leading IMPACT, and the program’s modern structure and real-life approach appealed to her. Over 15 months, she will be drilled in strategic leadership, business development and innovative thinking along with the other participants.

Hello Isabella. You’re starting Leading IMPACT in October! What made you choose Leading Impact?
I like that the program involves developing ways of thinking and approaches from the ground up. It’s hard to be a good leader in a complex world. That requires training, and Leading IMPACT will give me an excellent platform to work from.

Why did you choose Leading Impact over other options?
There were several factors: the program was recommended to me, it’s close to the areas in which I work, it has a modern structure and it’s based on real-life cases. Real life is never as clinical and easy to navigate as theory.

What do you hope to develop during the program?
I hope to develop steady leadership with an increased understanding of the impact of various factors and the ability to deploy strategies and long-term thinking in an unpredictable world. I would also like to gain increased clarity on how to not only ensure satisfied employees, performance-driven governance and contributions to a better world but also how they interact and feed off one another.

Please tell us about your position
I am responsible for electronic component sales in southern and northern Sweden. Essentially, this means that I assist customers involved in areas such as electric vehicles, smart homes, robots and energy infrastructure.

What qualities are important to succeed in your role?
My secret to success has been that I am happy to listen more than talk, reflect on what I hear and think proactively. It’s also helped that I’m not afraid to always be inquisitive and that it’s second nature for me to take responsibility. People I work with often tell me that I am quick-witted and reliable.

What are you like as a leader?
My leadership style maintains a careful balance between thinking and acting. I listen and analyze while staying focused on efficiency and pushing for plans and actions to be completed. Taking different perspectives and listening to different facts and opinions is important to me, as is seeing and achieving goals. I am easy to trust and I readily trust the people around me. I assume that everyone takes responsibility for their part in what we agreed on and does their best – or asks for help. However, sometimes I struggle to delegate, follow up on others’ work and keep up when they change plans without informing me. I believe that this is a solid foundation with potential for improvement in Leading IMPACT.

Please tell us about your background
For my entire adult life, I have worked in the electronics industry and at entrepreneur-run companies with less than 20 employees. I’ve had the privilege of working in many positions: finance, procurement, logistics, helping out at the warehouse, inside sales and outside sales. I became passionate about sales early on. I just LOVE meeting people and feeling empowered to make a difference in their everyday lives.

Three years ago, I became a co-owner of the company I worked for. After much blood, sweat and tears, we received an offer to sell the company to an international corporation with a good reputation, great expertise and values similar to our own. We accepted the offer, and the process became exciting both emotionally and tangibly. Today, me and the majority of the other co-owners are employed by the purchasing company, ECOMAL, and although we operate in the same industry as before, we do many things differently, which feels stimulating.

I understand you’ve also run business networks and your own business?
I’ve been running a business network in BNI for 7 years, I worked on a sales network for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden for 2.5 years and I‘ve been running my own business focused on sales development since 2013. I studied to be a board director a couple years ago and also serve on the board of Svalorna Indien Bangladesh, an organization working to combat poverty that I feel very passionate about.

You’re involved in many activities. What drives you?
The common denominator for everything is my passion for sales, which is the most important activity in all organizations and all positions. I believe that sound and sustainable sales are the key to continually making the world a better place. To put it simply, in my opinion, sound and healthy sales mean that there is a long-term value for the selling company, the customer, society and the world. Accordingly, for the seller, sound and healthy sales may involve initiating sales decreases but with better planning and more efficient utilization of resources.