"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."
Cree Indian Prophecy
I am Sari Savolainen, an advocate of change at the interface between business and science, with a doctorate in psychology and economics and business administration. For nearly four decades I have been observing leadership issues in companies and organizations: the lack of mutual trust, micromanagement and the joyless daily grind.
The truth is that most of these problems would be solved with what I learned from my grandfather as a child – conversation and appreciating and respecting other people. With these down-to-earth teachings, I combine my academic understanding, business-oriented thinking, and the desire to make the world a better place for all of us.
My spiritual home is the terrace of the smoke sauna with log walls that my grandfather built in 1956. I grew up at this terrace and its vicinity, playing as a child and in my youth discussing life, nature and society with my grandfather, while the sauna was heating up with alder logs. The greatest wisdom he taught me was happiness and how it has nothing to do with money, power or success. Happiness is created deep within a person, and everyone has to be able to find it there themselves.
Whenever we would be talking about money and property, my grandfather used to say that a winding sheet has no pockets. He enjoyed his simple life and often said he was happy. I still admire him in many ways. He fought in World War II from the beginning to the very end. He would often speak of his experiences of war and how many men fell by his side. After the war, he and my grandmother were given a farm, founded in 1870, to farm and live on. He cleared the fields, built the house, the granary and the barn for the animals himself. My mother was born while he was fighting for an independent Finland on the front.
I still remember the animals of my grandparents’ farm from my early childhood, the calf in the barn, the cows that frightened me, the hens, the horse and even the watchdog. I grew up deeply connected to nature, and after the farm was passed on to me, the connection is still strong. The conversations with my grandfather also greatly influenced my values. I learnt to appreciate different kinds of people and respect the wisdom and life experience of the older generations. I learnt that man is part of nature and how important that connection is to a person. I learnt that there is beauty in simplicity and that everyone can get along with another person. I also learnt that there is no such thing that could not be solved through conversation.
My grandfather’s teachings have always been a part of my way to be a leader. I have always given responsibility to the people working for me, and my leadership philosophy is to make it possible for my subordinates to succeed in their work. I have always had and still have time to truly meet another person. To me, every person is equally important, and I have never bowed down to images. I believe that everyone has to show his or her own worth through action, no matter what their title is.
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