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Book Chapter – Depth and Spirit

A ny company or organisation which is focused solely on money is out of touch with the times. The need for financial returns must be contextualised. American businesses often seem to pursue their ends with impressive focus and vigour, but with too much weight on short-term financial returns.

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer, talks about the importance of spirit in his epic novel, War and Peace. The great generals never aimed a gun or killed a man. Everything was done by their soldiers, who killed their enemies in obedience to the spirit imposed by the leader. Deciding the outcome was the spirit of the men, their greater or lesser eagerness to face danger and fight, quite irrespective of the genius of generals. Tolstoy goes onto say “

The strength of an army depends on the spirit that animates it and victory is the outcome of the feelings that dwell in every soldier.”

Leadership is about encouraging and building that spirit. Our mind wants to understand which factors decide this imponderable spirit. However, it isn’t that simple, as it varies from person to person and it may well be the sum of many small things rather than a few key attributes. Competence, confidence, caring, convincing and consideration are all factors that help build authority and loyalty. These qualities are not spin-offs or ‘nice-to-haves’; they are key aspects of leadership. Good leadership is about evoking the fire within more than a matter of using force or incentive, the whip or the carrot. Often authenticity is paramount, i.e. showing who you are, naturally and without pretence, levelling with people and telling them the way it is. Leaders must show more concern for their people than for themselves.
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Harvard Business Review Summaries

I am a keen reader of Harvard Business Review. In an America where everything seems a little too commercial and monetized it is refreshing to experience the integrity and wisdom of the HBR magazine. I have followed it for twenty five years and a little more intensely the last 12- 13 years.

being an ethical and good corporate citizen, looking after people and the environment is not a trade-off but a success formula

From my own notes I have a one paragraph summary of each of the years 2004 to 2015. As each year is about 1,400 pages, to bring it down to one paragraph is quite a concentrate obviously not objectively covering everything useful and important, but covering my pick of important conclusions and messages.

My particular interest is in how we can build more purposeful and sustainable organisations serving the people and their communities. As many articles explain, being an ethical and good corporate citizen, looking after people and the environment is not a trade-off but a success formula.

Personal and Private Investments

I have worked with Finance all my life and started buying shares in my teens. At college I had a Science focus which was the thing to do in Sweden if you wanted to maximize your career options. This gave me a good understanding of arithmetic and numbers, something I think is very important for any finance industry participant. Post college I studied Law and Commerce and at the same time went through military training ending up Captain in Engineering troops.

Working and living in seven countries and held senior finance roles as CEO and General Manager of six banks including a role with the World Bank. My first job was with the City of Stockholm where I was City Treasurer for five years. In Europe my finance experience included the bond market and I was responsible for issuing bonds in many markets. I have also been involved with share issues and of course general corporate finance both as a borrower and also as a banker/ intermediary. My focus has been building strong teams and maintaining good market contacts and of course looking after customers and trying to build something better in all my roles.

As far as bonds are concerned I have issued fixed and floating rate bonds, extendible and retractable bonds, bonds with swaps attached and bonds with warrants in London, New York, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Kuwait and Frankfurt. Read more