A Dutch partner of ours just asked me why, if many Finns are of so few words, they are so successful. He had been posed this question by a course participant, and struggled for an answer.
I wrote a quick list and thought I’d post it here…
- Your client seems to equate talking a lot and answering quickly with success. I would argue that a better route to success is to listen, wait, and be economical with words. The Japanese have been successful too.
- Reactives tend to do very well academically. Look at academic achievements globally, and East Asians and Finns are usually at the top of the various tables.
- Finns achieve a lot very quickly with few words, even if meetings can seem really slow: it’s an illusion. I was 15 minutes late for a meeting recently because my taxi was late. When I got there, I said ‘did I miss anything’ and the chair replied ‘the meeting is over!’ Typical.
- They have enormous persistence, grit and guts – Sisu.
- They have little ego or narcissism. Manfred Kets de Vries, the clinical psychologist, says he admires Finnish managers more than any others in the world because of this.
- They are not deceived by charisma – which can be a dangerous quality for persuading people to do the wrong thing. HELSINKI
- They are realistic and don’t get blinded by exciting (but possibly unworkable) ideas.
- They don’t get too carried away by winning, or despondent about losing.
- Difficult situations make them try harder, not give up.
- They are incredibly reliable, so the boss only has to say something once and people feel empowered to work on their own, with no micro-management.
- They are non-conformist, eccentric and inventive mavericks (Linux, Angry Birds?)
- They are flexible and can re-invent themselves – Nokia is doing very well these days, without making phones. Used to make toilet paper, tyres, rubber boots. Just keeps changing according to the circumstances.
- They are pretty adaptable internationally.
- They are calm, and never panic.