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What do you do for work? I combine leadership theories with vikings

Posted by Heli Saarelainen on 7.9.2018 14:49
Heli Saarelainen
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”What is it you are exactly doing nowadays? What is this Viking thing?” 

This is a question I have heard quite often during last six months.

”We are developing a leadership game where vikings help leaders to understand better their team members” is usually not seen as a fully comprehensive answer. Though it should be.


We need leaders who understand their employees.


During my career in leadership development, I have noticed three things:

  1. The need for good leadership is greater than ever.
  2. Good leaders have strong emotional intelligence skills.
  3. Vikings are cool.

Summa summarum: We need leaders who understand employees, and our Viking game helps leaders to improve these skills.


When 90% of employees are not committed, Kotter is the answer

When companies launch new initiatives, according to studies 90% of companies’ employees are neither committed nor ready to change their behaviour accordingly. When we hope to get our projects or initiatives forward, we are actually asking people to change their current status quo. Suddenly team leader has to turn into a change manager.

To get everybody aboard, a leader should understand the dynamics of change management. That is why we use John P. Kotter’s theory of leading change in our game.


Levitt’s Diamond: Company is a combination of people, technology and culture

Getting everybody aboard is unfortunately not enough. The project must move onward, goals have to be reached. In a company, there are people, technologies and work culture. When you take your project to the next step, you change one of these dimensions, which has an impact on others.

To lead your project successfully you should understand Harold Leavitt’s interaction model, also known as Leavitt’s Diamond. It makes visible how launching a new goal or a strategy affects the culture, people and technologies. By utilizing the interaction model, our game shows you how you can keep your management actions in balance. 

Over 70% of change projects fails because of change resistance – help us, Lencioni!

When leading people, there is always one real random factor: peoples’ emotions. Every team member has hidden fears and believes, and their behaviour can surprise. Something you do or say with good intention might cause awful hassle and drama in your team. Some studies show that over 70% of change projects fail because of change resistance, meaning emotions.


The best teams can handle unpleasant emotions and resistance.


The best teams can handle these unpleasant emotions and resistance. People behave supportively towards each other and general feeling is positive. In worst case team members collapse to unhealthy behaviour and subconsciously sabotage team dynamics. 

Building a well functioning team is not simple. That is why Patric Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team is included in our game’s theory base. It helps you to understand the principles of team dynamics and shows how to guide team members through unpleasant emotions and resistance.


Who am I, what is the meaning of life? Let’s ask Goleman

Okay, Daniel Goleman might not know the meaning of life, but he knows about leadership styles for sure. When playing our game, you will find out what is the most natural leadership style for you. It also shows the best leadership practices for your team.


So, this is what I do. I’m developing a game that combines present-day leadership theories with vikings. And why vikings? Well, that's totally another story.



Heli Saarelainen is the CEO of Viking Theories. She has been helping managers to improve their leadership skills for several years. In the 90s, she studied classical ballet and saw David Hasselhoff live in Leipzig.

Topics: blog, leadership, learning technology, gamification, leadership theories


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