Interview with our CEO Tove Bäcker
It's International Women's Day and we're happy to share some thoughts and insights from our CEO Tove Bäcker. Read what she has to say about being a leader and advice she would give to other women in their careers.
Describe your leadership style and how you “lead” others?
That’s a very difficult question! Perhaps we should ask people who are led by me instead? I try my best to lead and treat people the way I want to be treated myself. What I try to get into my leadership is a combination of being clear - as a leader one is expected to lead and show the way - but also being very attentive. That is not always easy, especially when growing as a company and there’s a hundred things to take care of. But if someone needs my attention, they get it. It’s not just about the big questions for me but also the personal ones, the everyday ones. Furthermore, showing great empathy, that I really care about the people around me, that’s very important to me.
What motivated you to step up and become a leader in the organization?
I’m a driven person and it has been quite natural for me to take on a leadership role. When the question came up it wasn’t a difficult choice, however I didn’t have a lot of formal leadership experience. Taking on this role at Humblebee in a completely new company and industry was a challenge, especially as I have a consultancy background and am used to being the specialist myself. But there was one defining moment when I realised that this is what I should focus on; my leadership, and how we function as a company.
What are the benefits to having women in leadership?
I think diversity is very important, and that it exists in all levels in a company. There aren’t enough female leaders, so it’s very positive to take on such a role and show that it’s perfectly possible to do so as a woman. In an industry that doesn’t have as many women in it as it should, I hope this motivates others, showing that it’s as natural as having a male leader.
What benefits have you received from your leadership experiences?
The biggest benefit is all the meetings I get to have with all the different people, both in our company but also our clients and partners. It’s fantastic to see people grow and be able to experience all the amazing competences around me.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think foremost believing in oneself and to dare to claim space. I think many women are too hard on themselves. I am aware of my faults, I’ve got many of them, but I try focussing on my strengths. The faults are something to work on, but you must make sure they don’t become hinderances. I focus on what I do well, not what I don’t do well. I think many women are too hard on themselves.
How do you encourage women to not give up?
It is a given that one can take on different roles regardless of gender. For me it should go without saying, and that is what I want to push here at Humblebee too. That also means providing the right conditions; one must be able to balance the personal with the professional. We are very clear that we believe in a work/life balance, and that may look different for different people. That we provide the right conditions for it I think makes it easier for everyone regardless of gender.
How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?
Good question! I’ve always, in everything I do, tried to do my best. So when I look back, I can say that at least I did the best I could, even if it’s not enough or what others expected. I always try to go into things with the best of intentions, and reflect on decisions or choices I’ve made.
How important is it to have a mentor to grow as a leader?
Some form of mentor or sounding board is particularly good, having someone to talk to and discuss things on various levels. For me, the biggest thing is that it gives time for reflections.
How can women develop their leadership skills?
The most important thing is that if you want to lead, then dare to do it. Realize you may not be the perfect leader from day one but dare to take charge and do it your own way. And look at others - be inspired by good leaders around you!
What advice do you have for women looking to grow either their own business or within the company they work for?
To believe in yourself, believe in your knowledge but also to listen to your gut and follow it, that is especially important. Make sure to find positive contexts, surround yourself with people who believe in you and want you to do well. Looking back, in my professional career I have tried finding people who inspire me, who are driven, who I want to follow, and usually there is mutual respect there.
Thank you Tove for your inspiring insights and for leading all the amazing bees at Humblebee!