Miltton Sisu helps to create clarity in confusion
Kristi Liiva, one of the founders of Miltton New Nordics and one of the most experienced and well-known communications experts in Estonia, will be pursuing a new mission beginning this fall – change management and leadership development.
Miltton Sisu, a subsidiary under Miltton New Nordics, is founded by Kristi together with co-founders and mother company Miltton Group with the aim to advise both Estonian private and public sector organizations and community leaders on how to be creative and flexible in the VUCA world (read more https://bit.ly/1JhAIWk) and create a working culture and environment where people feel comfortable being themselves and thus, are able to maximize their potential.
“When it comes to work as a communications adviser, I’m certainly not going to leave our clients,” says Kristi, “I’m always there, but from now on I’m just going to be devoting more time on change management and leadership development advisory.”
What does organizational change and development management mean? Kristi and her team help clients to find clarity in confusion and order in chaos. Kristi promises that “in times of change, I help to think through, target, deliver and help managers create a working culture and environment where people feel joy, are capable, and productive,” adding that she is certainly not creating her own truth, but that her role is to underline the problems that hinder the organization’s and its people’s development and then to advise managers on how to find ways to mitigate the issues and unlock the employees full potential. “I’ve reached this point in my journey where I’ve realized that this is what I want to continue with in my professional career,” explains Kristi her change of direction which is also supported by her own experience as a leader. “My own story and journey in various companies and teams as an new manager and being able to add value to the work at the same time have been the most important elements helping me.” Learning firsthand, she has learned and experienced how the leadership process is many times more multidimensional than a normal command line where smart and enlightened managers traditionally lead the way as employees do what they are told. “People expect a leader to be empathetic engager, a thinker, a good process initiator and leader, and good at getting the big picture whilst still managing to be the team’s visionary, too.”
Experiences and lessons learned
In addition to Kristi, Miltton Sisu’s team consists of Eva-Maria Kangro, Jane Oblikas, and Greetel Joanna Võrk. Eva-Maria holds a PhD in phycology, making her an expert on self-management and how to cope with change. Jane is a renowned design thinking trainer who has advised dozens of Estonian companies throughout the reshaping of their business model or solved their issues regarding growth. Greetel Joanna, who recently completed her bachelor’s degree in Communications with honors from the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tartu, is passionate about managing change in society. In addition, the team cooperates with a number of renowned experts when creating various development programs. For example, Rain Kooli, who is a clear message coach, or Arno Baltin, a negotiation expert. The team is still on the search for a service designer – another competence relevant in the field of change management.
Kristi herself is Miltton Sisu’s founder, a change and development consultant, but also one of the initiators of the Foundation for Bully-Free School (SA Kiusamisvaba Kool www.kiusamisvaba.ee) and the Arvamusfestival inspired by Almedalen week of Sweden (www.arvamusfestival.ee). Apart from continuous learning and self-improvement, she has been part of important transformational processes. Be it the merger of Hansabank and Estonian Savings Bank, preparing Eesti Energia for the open electricity market, working at Swedbank’s HQ in Stockholm or managing the Government’s Communications Office when Estonia was about to join the European Union. Her work experience is multidimensional – crossing diverse sectors and national borders.
Whilst Kristi cherishes her experiences highly, she values her painful lessons even more. Throughout her journey, she’s gained a deep conviction for how important a good, empathetic, and an open-minded leader is. “Many of the leaders whom I’ve had the honor to work for have partly made whom I am today,” says Kristi.
Kristi founder Miltton Sisu to create working environments that unleash people’s creativity and full potential. The newly founded establishment will mainly focus on five areas: change management and implementation support; organizational design; developing and implementing values; strategy process and strategy development; customer journey and experience design.
Shifting her focus onto change and development management has also been driven partly by a general shift in attitudes in society. A successful company can no longer focus solely on serving the interests of its shareholders i.e. profits, but now has to take into consideration the broader interests of the various parties involved. An increasing number of entrepreneurs believe their organization to be a part of something bigger than just profit, which ideally should be nothing more than the natural by-products of a rewarding and meaningful business.
Miltton Sisu’s Future Leaders Development Program was designed to get you closer to achieving that goal through design thinking principles and tools helping you creatively approach problems, as well as practical tools for successful self-management and team management. Kristi is convinced that, “No organization can succeed without engaging with the society and the community,” continuing explaining that, “Your relationship with all of the stakeholders must be well managed, not only the relationship with the shareholders. Putting the team and the organizational development into a social context is the special ingredient of our program.”
The need for a new type of a leader
Ambitious, initiative leaders who pursued aggressive politics were valued in the 90s. Now, on the other hand, people prefer a liberal and democratic leadership style that is more focused on effective teamwork, than aiming at a breakthrough.
A successful manager is able to understand the employees’ problems and needs, is able to communicate with them, recruit, and employ them successfully. Appreciates seeing people of different ages, nationalities, genders, etc. in their organization and their increasing share is not a concern. Has created a working environment where employees can meet and develop their needs.
Iris Pettai, the Estonian Open Society Institute
The Future Leaders’ Development Program is designed to go beyond Estonia, as well. Cooperation with colleagues from Miltton’s other offices in the Nordic countries, Brussels and Washington D.C. is already underway.
Special programs on the way
Next year’s dream for Miltton Sisu is to design programs especially aimed at women leaders, community leaders and mature managers who have found themselves puzzled over the generation of “snowflakes” (a label Kristi rather advises not to use for generation Y and Z).
But why do we need these specific programs? According to Kristi, the role of communities in societies is becoming increasingly important, which means that the leaders in different areas require continuous development. “I doubt that the government can, in the long run, provide all of the services our shrinking and aging society needs,” says Kristi. “But when a village joins its forces, it might have better chances at organizing children’s transport to school, take care of the elderly, and make sure that our vegetables are well preserved over the winter. We need leaders for all these practical matters.”
The program specially designed for women is once again inspired by Kristi’s own journey to become a leader. “Experiencing different situations and seeing other women has made me realize that there is potential to develop further, when it comes to both myself and others, to increase our influence,” says Kristi. “I’ve been the quiet wallflower myself, being unable to stand up for my beliefs, as if I was afraid of something. I got rid of that syndrome by asking one simple question: how would I act if I wasn’t afraid? Masculine energy in management is still so dominant. We need more powerful female leaders,” Kristi states.
The special program designed for experienced leaders is aimed at those who feel they need relevant advice on how to better communicate with generation Y and Z i.e. those born in the 1980s and 1990s. Kristi notes that inevitably, the older generation’s conservative beliefs and the younger generation’s views and expectations of the working life may occasionally clash.
“A lot of our knowledge and practice of management still comes from the times when an employee was perceived as a machine who had to be commanded and disciplined and thus, constantly being under control,” says Kristi. “For some executives, even working from home seems as too much freedom.” However, the new generations entering the job market expect more flexibility, creativeness and empathy. Thus, managers need to consider what is an attractive atmosphere, environment and working processes for the younger generations if they want to keep their organizations viable.
Miltton’s change and development consultants: Jane Oblikas, Christina Dahlblom (Miltton Sparks, Miltton Sisu’s counterpart in Helsinki, Managing Director), Eva-Maria Kangro, Greetel Joanna Võrk and Kristi Liiva.