Jessica Semb is nominated for the award Best Practise 2021: Leader of the year

The jury’s motivation:

Jessica has an inspiring ability in her role as partner and office manager at Baker Tilly Umeå to not hide or get lost behind nice words and leadership clichés, but instead prove through action that successful leadership is more easily achievable than we may think. With a large amount of humility she challenges both her own and others notions, and surprisingly often she finds the simplest ways to handle the complex challenges.

Many of her coworkers attest to Jessica’s capability to take time for important issues and for their reality. She is depicted as both perceptive and driven, “a catalyst” as one coworker described her. She is not shy of the spotlight, afraid to take the lead or to scrutinize her own ways. “You can tell that she wants to evolve”, as another coworker put it and moreover that “she is true to herself and that makes the rest of us believe in ourselves”.

Some factors of success have been:

  • To put aside time to get ideas from other businesses that could help us in our work. Jessica is not foreign to asking for help or listening to other perspectives, even totally new ones. Among other things she has invited external assessments, to bring an unattached view of the organisation “from the outside”, to uncover eventual areas of improvement and break cycles of “this is how we do things”.
  • To ask for answers from the people who already have the solutions. If we want to know how it is best to motivate our employees, how we can create engagement for business goals or how to nurture cooperation. Maybe a course or a book on management isn’t the best way to go? Maybe the answers are more easily ready from the people it’s all about. Jessica often has individual reconciliation meetings with all employees with one purpose – to get to know them and the situation they currently are in. In its simplest form it’s about catching up; how are you? What can I help you with? They are short meetings on other occasions than salary negotiations and the like. Jessica doesn’t avoid the hard subjects or having corrective meetings, but she doesn’t bring that up during these specific sit-downs. These meetings are only to check the current status and needs, to try to eliminate eventual obstacles and to show commitment for the employees. Other questions are saved for other forums. What Jessica gets from these continual meetings is a deep understanding for the organisation, and each individuals needs. Furthermore she can catch things that may be going the wrong way in an early stage: wellbeing, cooperation, conflicts etc. And additionally she builds a strong foundation of trust with her coworkers.
  • Understanding that development takes patience. Many times leaders and managers are doing the right things, but were not doing them long enough for them to give the expected effect? Jessica described that she could feel frustrated about how things were developing: ”I’m doing what we decided I would do, and still nothings happening”? At the same time she had patience to keep going with the individual check in meetings and finally they did have effect, but still she keeps in mind that the work is never done.
  • To create involvement and co-responsibility. Jessica and her co-owner and partner Åsa Dahlgren repeatedly come back to how they, from the very beginning when they started the business, wanted to build a familiar atmosphere in the offices. The idea has been that ”people who feel well, perform well”. At the same time as Jessica and Åsa care about contributing to achievement and wellbeing themselves, they also want the support and accountability of those around them. This means that Jessica and Åsa invest in leadership development for all employees, regardless of role or position, from receptionist to office manager in order to evoke everyone’s insight and shared responsibility to drive the entire office’s performance and wellbeing forward.

Practise jury hereby nominates Jessica Semb for the award Best Practise 2021: Leader of the Year.