Q&A with Malin Hedlund, Founder of MHLeadership

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Malin Hedlund started as a leadership trainer in Sweden, 1995. During her many years of experience from multiple projects she found that most managers had not reached their potential despite their desire to grow in their professional development. This led to MHLeadership where Malin work with people who believe that they have more to give as a leader and as a person, and who are willing to be gently but steadily pulled outside their comfort zones.

This year’s Business Women Leadership program is the fifth one together with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, what is your experience of the past programs?

Yes, I believe it is! My experience is that it is high engagement amongst the women who participate. My experience is that it is needed because they want a platform and a space to get together to discuss the things that they don’t discuss elsewhere. It has grown and my experience is also that it is a core group that always comes back and has participated for almost all five years actually. So we have several of the women that I have seen there almost every time, every year, so that is incredible!

Who should join and why?

I believe women should join if they are ambitious and hardworking and sometimes struggling to get everything in place and to have a balanced life. Also, if they want to learn more about how to flourish themselves to more of what they are. Women who work on themselves, personal development, leadership development, they have bigger success. Because they grow in areas that they don’t even think that they can grow in.

What can businesswomen achieve by participating in the program?

I would say they will get greater awareness about their own health and they will make choices to be empowered, fulfilled and healthy.

Many companies do not have Women Leadership Programs of their own, what is your advice to these companies and how can they profit by enrolling their Women Leaders to this program?

When companies have women in leadership positions, and actually this is more about top positions, the company itself have a greater profit. They have done a lot of studies on that. Also another study that I just read says that women benefit from leadership development designed exclusively for women leaders. Because the challenges women face are different from men’s, and when they have an opportunity to get together and talk about their aspirations, how to overcome barriers that they face and build confidence they expand into higher levels. That is another big thing, so when they have this type of program they expand to become this, maybe, executive leader in the company. They can see that companies that have women leaders also have employees that are happier because women are more, not always, purpose-driven and speaks to the individuals.

The focus on 2020’s program is health, why do you find this topic important?

For me it is crucial! I think the best way to explain it is that if the foundation of everything, we have heard this before, is that if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. You can’t build a house without the foundation and here health is the foundation. When you have it, when you are well, and thriving, magic will happen. Not just physically but also mentally and I have so many examples of executive leaders, how they have grown into different positions thanks to that they have been working on their health with me.

What is the difference with this program in comparison with earlier programs? If you have attended earlier Swe-Cham Business Women Leadership Programs, is it still a gaining experience?

Absolutely you can gain! I would say that the big difference here is that in the past programs we have been focusing a lot on tools and skills to be able to, for example, communicate when you have a difficult person. There has been a lot of tools for managing those types of things. Now it is about getting more knowledge about your health and understanding why health and wellbeing and prioritizing yourself first is important to be a sustainable leader. The focus is on themselves this year.

From your point of view, how is the partnership together with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and do you think it is important for the Chamber to have a Women Leadership Program?

The partnership we have had for five years now and I think it is very enriching and expanding. What I love about working with you is that you are very professional and always forward-thinking. It is a forward-thinking organization, it’s always evolving. We try to find new ways of facilitating this Women Leadership Program so it is something new every year, different angles at least. It seems like the Chamber needs this program because last year when we asked “Do you still want it, do you think it is important?” all participants said yes. It is a platform for women in Holland to discuss specific topics and the needs that they have that are unique for women. And the Swedish Chamber is a great example of how we support women to grow into different roles.