Third part of the story of Bo and Kristina, leaders and founders of Viking Software.
There’s no doubt that Bo and Kristina are a cohesive unit that functions best as a team. However, this naturally doesn’t mean that they don’t each have their own individual approaches to leadership, formed through personal experiences, education, and observing other leaders.
As mentioned, Bo primarily takes on the outward-facing role, and it’s not surprising that his leadership style is largely intuitive. He has an MBA and has read numerous management books, but, as he says, “when I’m one-on-one with an employee, there’s no leadership course that can tell you how to do it right.” Over the years, he’s drawn from others’ experiences, especially as guidelines for how he does NOT want to lead. “I can cite three examples of leadership that I’ve learned from and would never catch myself doing:
1. EXCLUSION: At one of my first jobs, I was part of an international team for a company based in London. It really bothered me that only the 40% of the employees at the headquarters were involved in decision-making, while the rest of us just had to do what we were told. I’ve vowed this will never happen at Viking Software; our developer in Bulgaria is just as important as our colleagues in the Danish office.
2. WORK-LIFE-BALANCE: I once spoke with a man who owned a law firm. He complained that nowadays you can’t expect 24-hour availability from lawyers as you could in the past. This reaffirmed our commitment to respecting our employees’ free time. We’d rather have people who are happy for 20 years than work people so hard that they burn out after 5.
3. MICROMANAGEMENT: I’ve seen and experienced bosses who hover over their employees, and I can’t stand it. We trust that we’ve hired competent employees, and we must give them room to excel. That said, I sometimes wonder if we should micromanage a bit more, as some employees do need a guiding hand. It’s a balance we’re still trying to find.
Kristina fully agrees, making these some of the cornerstones of our leadership approach.”
In general, Bo feels that the role of a leader comes quite naturally to him. Of course, there are times when he finds himself in situations with his employees where he wishes he had phrased things differently, and he absolutely detests having to let people go. However, over the years, he has become much better at communicating and having important conversations. He feels that he has evolved into the type of leader he both wants to be and would have liked to have, which is the most important thing for him.
While Kristina also employs a fairly intuitive leadership style, she’s given more thought to the professional aspects of leadership and recently took a management course. She’s very conscious of how much her day-to-day work relates to her background in pedagogy. For example, her primary focus is well-being, as she believes that people who are thriving perform best. “The field of pedagogy is just a part of me,” she explains. “So it’s both consciously and unconsciously that I carry my education forward in my role as a leader.”
An important part of Viking Software, and at times a point of pain, is the large group of talented foreign developers who need to feel included across borders. It’s also one of Kristina’s tasks to regularly check in with all her employees, even those she only meets a couple of times a year.
“You have to be so alert when you don’t have them close by on a daily basis. Keep an eye on how active they are in our group chat, be available so they know you’re there for them when they need to talk, and navigate the cultural differences that mean some are not used to having their boss as close as we’d like to be. Sometimes they reach out to me themselves, other times a colleague might tip me off that something’s up. And I’ve also had to accept that some people never open up, and that’s okay too,” Kristina says.
Bo and Kristina are not just leaders; they are entrepreneurs, partners, and most importantly, human beings. Their approach to leadership and business management is shaped not only by their professional backgrounds but also by their personal life philosophies. They form the heart of Viking Software, a company measured not just by its technical expertise but also by its human capital.
Over the years, they have shown that it’s possible to combine business success with a strong focus on employee well-being and personal development. They have built a culture where community, mastery, and partnership are not just empty words but core values that are lived out every single day.
As we have seen, Viking Software is much more than just a workplace; it’s a community driven by a vision to make the world a slightly better place, one line of code at a time. And at the center of it all are Bo and Kristina, two people who, with heart, mind, and hard work, demonstrate that good leadership is about much more than the bottom line.