Keep learning all your life
Heidi Bligaard isn’t a dreamer, and she hasn’t had a plan. She acts, and that has taken her a long way. But she still recommends getting a qualification from the start – and continuing to learn throughout life.
Heidi’s ambition to become a veterinarian was so compelling when she was young that she studied Latin in the evenings at primary school. After the first horrible week at high school, she ended up at business school. But since she arrived at business school she has come a long way.
“It’s important to make your path broad from the start, and of course also to think about what job opportunies are possible after a particular qualification. I was tired of studying after my bachelor’s degree and couldn’t see the point of a master’s degree. I needed to be out in the real world, testing the theories I had learned.”
Looking back, Heidi would have chosen to take a master’s degree in order to gain an even stronger theoretical foundation. But things worked out well anyway, and today Heidi is Head of Sales and Membership for Lederne, with 41 employees under her. Initially, she worked with more hard sales, and the culture from there shaped the manager she was from the start.
Believe in others
“As a new manager, I made some mistakes. Looking back, I think I wasn’t at all clear in my communication, made unreasonable demands and didn’t fully view people as individuals. At the time, I wasn’t aware that we all have different perceptions of reality.”
At one point in her career, Heidi was required to obtain a master’s degree in NLP. She thought the behavioral theories were ‘hocus pocus’ to begin with, but ultimately she gained many useful tools. Today, she views the role of manager differently.
“It’s important to believe in other people and understand that our world views are different. You have to be curious about people and believe that everyone can contribute something. You need to make employees flourish. If they want to. Otherwise, you should also be able to move on.”
Feedback is important
Today, Heidi always asks for feedback from her employees, although she knows she probably only hears a fraction because it can be hard to speak up against a manager. To become good, managers must also learn throughout their lives, and there are many people who want to help. She has herself asked for assistance from her managers, colleagues and networks.
“Personality is the most important thing about a manager, but it’s also crucial to learn tools. For example, techniques in situational management have made me aware of the phases of a given task. Being familiar with that flow means I can better support my employees.”
The ability to delegate was also something Heidi found difficult at first, but something she has learned and makes constant use of. She also points out the importance to a manager of being able to manage projects and think in a business-oriented way.
Freedom on several levels
“It’s great to make every effort, but everyone makes mistakes – we just have to learn from them. Men are probably better at saying sorry and moving on, whereas women are often more perfectionist. I particularly want to help set direction, develop, create results and be able to make decisions.”
Heidi also appreciates the freedom and flexibility of being a manager and being able to control her own time. In her spare time, she loves to spend time running and with her dog, a lively cocker spaniel. And in full agreement with her husband, she has chosen not to have children.
“I’ve never wanted children. I love looking after my friends’ children, but I don’t want the responsibility myself. I was very close to my aunt and I love my nieces too. Opting out has nothing to do with my job, but kids just aren’t my path to happiness.”