11 March 2013

The most important leadership quality in the coming five years

Written by Outi Valtonen
Published in , Oil products

I participated in an interesting seminar last year and one topic among many others was creativity. The seminar speaker stated his claim, which took at least me by surprise: The most important leadership quality in the coming five years is creativity.

Being creative means breaking old patterns and habits and thinking differently. Encouraged by that I tried my best to give some time and effort for this subject and not to slam it immediately. I am in an expert role in my current work as a business intelligence advisor and monitoring the coming changes is usually based on hardfacts, early signs and tacit knowledge, and not so much on imagination or invention. From the seminar I participated in, I remember a quote, which made me think of my role again: “Being creative is seeing the same thing as everybody else but thinking of something different” (George Kneller).

It is not hard to believe the statement of creativity being the top competitive advantage, when you think of our current base oils business environment. The old way of doing things is just not enough anymore and new ways have to be found by breaking patterns and habits and trying to see things differently.

Base oil Group III business environment, in which Neste Oil operates in, has changed a lot during the last couple of years, moving from a tight supply situation to a tough competition with a lot of new group III base oils available. Reasons for this are familiar to everyone in the business – downward trend in car sales and thus in lubricant demand due to the economic difficulties and new capacity that has arrived at the market at the same time – but it doesn´t ease off the pain. Anyhow, the fuel economy requirements, regulations, CO2 emission reductions and performance upgrades all increase the demand for higher quality base oils in the future, and sufficient supply is essential part of the Group III success answering to this growing need.

Neste Oil has implemented several new ways of doing things during the last couple of years. One example of this is the role of sales, of which also Mr Juha Wallius wrote in his excellent blog in January. Our dedicated sales persons have used their creativity and ability to co-operate with the customers as well as their expertise in their field in order to create unique value propositions to our customers, in addition to the old way of communicating the superb features of our NEXBASE® base oils

 “Creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget”, has Jaime Lerner said. In other words, creativity is just a better form of desperation. What would be better time to use our creativity than this, when the market is not as rosy as it was a while ago and innovative thinking is needed. Without creativity there is no innovation.

Outi Valtonen
Business Intelligence Advisor, Base Oils