I’ve been at a leadership course the last couple of days for work. Sounds fancy huh? It was pretty solid. Very interesting. Somewhat awkward at times for various work related issues. And completely exhausting.
I’ve taken a few classes about leadership before. Had all kinds of leadership theory dumped on me ever since junior high actually, so I was relatively familiar with a lot of the stuff we went into. But I was not familiar with it in Sweden. Which was pointed out very quickly and very early on. In fact the very first activity. It involved defining what makes a good leader on a post-it note. Or numerous post-it notes actually. So I did. Intelligent, strong, well-rounded, and so on. I thought they were pretty solid. And the kind of person I would not only like to be but also to work for. I was promptly told that my ideas were very American. Especially the intelligent one. Apparently that is a bit of a social faux pas to specify that a leader should be intelligent. The next few days saw a few more of these opinions arise. Very cool. It’s amazing how cultures react to different issues and characteristics.
That being said, knowing that the jantelag is somehow still relevant, it didn’t surprise me that Swedes would shy away from that sort of characteristic that can set someone apart, and especially above, others.
As the days went on. There were a lot of them. Well three at least. I got tired. At first I couldn’t really figure out why I was done for at the end of every day. Then it hit me. I was back in school. Using my head a whole lot more than I usually do. And I was doing it in Swedish. And granted, I speak Swedish every day, and in great detail at work but this was different. This was academic. And exhausting. I think I mentioned that.
My notes are filled with the ultimate Swenglish. Sometimes I was translating as the instructor spoke. Sometimes I was just writing in Swedish. And sometimes it was just a hodgepodge of nonsense. I’m a little worried to even look back at it.
Either way though, it was a good time. And the Swedish improved. Didn’t really have much choice. And a whole new insight into the Swedish business world opened up for me.