Personal development or how to grow through success and even more so failures

During the 3rd edition of the Mixer, Mr Lars Haggstrom, Executive Residence at IMD business school, talked about personal development or transformation and how to grow through success and even more so failures.

Mr Hasggstrom stood up and proudly talked about his own failures. For him, we have to realize that our failures have a lot to do with us. If we refuse to admit it, we will never be able to learn from them. Failures are great learning opportunities. We must be aware that sometimes failures are inevitable. If there is something we want to do, we should dare to go for it and not be afraid of failing. It is thanks to those experiences that we can develop and improve our skills. In this article, we’ll go through the challenges of getting promoted in a different country and what we should expect when getting promoted in a different industry.

Lars Haggstrom

Personal development with the STAR Model

According to Mr Haggstrom, future doesn’t belong to the brightest, to those who work the hardest but to those who have the ability to develop the most. This is why he is so passionate about development. During his presentation, he developed the STAR model which is appropriate for many different contexts. The model is based on the Situation we are in, the Task we are asked to do, the Actions we take and finally the Results we get. Mr. Haggstrom applies this model by using his own experiences, the first one being his promotion in Latin America and the second one his job in the financial industry, knowing that he was in the pharmaceutical field for a very long time.

Getting promoted in another country or culture

When we get promoted in another country, we tend to think that we know the values and the culture of the company and that everything will be fine. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Even if we are in the same company, we are in a new country, thus people may not work the same way. So one might continue to work within the culture framework that he is used to. The problem is that we cannot apply our ways of working in every culture, as they are very different.

Mr. Haggstrom did another very common mistake, he focused a lot on building a relationship with the new regional president. This can be poorly interpreted. People may think that it is a sneaky way to get closer to the leaders and that we don’t care about other staff members. He also tried to involve the coworkers by asking them “What do you think we are going to do” which in a European context is a good thing to say because it is aim to create inclusion. But in some countries, in this case in Latin America, it is interpreted as if he had said that he didn’t have a clue of what he was doing.

It is important to be deeply mindful of the cultural differences. If we get a promotion in the same company but another country, we cannot assume that we know the company, its culture and values. First, we need to do some research about it and get prepared. Then, we have to reflect and realize that there are significant differences between the Nordic and the Latin cultures for instance. Finally, we must keep this in mind in order to progress in our careers. If we are sloppy about it, we might fail.

Getting promoted in a different industry

If we are used to working in an industry and getting promoted in another, we have to prepare for this change. Indeed, the way it works in one industry is not necessarily applicable to another. Mr. Haggstrom used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and he got a job in the financial industry.

First of all, the power is not distributed the same way in all the industries, therefore we have to be careful. In the pharmaceutical industry, we can look at the organizational structure like a pyramid. The ones at the top have the most power and then we go down and the power drops. This is not the case in the financial industry, the CEO is not the one who earns the most. The ones that make more money are the ones working in the market, the big traders.

Likewise, the industry culture is significantly different and it is even more difficult to distinguish these differences in culture.  In the pharmaceutical industry the biggest purpose is saving lives and improving health – even if they make a lot of money, people have that in mind when they join the industry. Whereas in the financial industry people are less socially driven than in the pharmaceutical industry.  As a consequence, if we don’t have the same values as the industry we are working in, we will get demotivated. The lesson here is to understand what we want, what we love to do and which culture fits us.

When the next job opportunity presents itself, we have to know what the industry is like, who the boss is, where the power lies, what are the resources we have and last but not least: what is important for ourself in life. The good part of bad experiences is that we usually learn along the way who we are and what’s important to us.

When we fail, it is hard to realize and admit that it has something to do with ourselves. But unless we do realize it, we will never learn from our mistakes. “This is why I am standing here and talking proudly about my failures, because at least I can admit that they are failures. Never stop focusing on knowing yourselves and on your own development. The moment you stop, your decline has started” finishes Mr. Haggstrom.

Last modified: 31 août 2020

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