Most companies these days have an established set of company values that help them follow their mission and guide them through their day-to-day activities. In addition to our company values, here at SimScale, we have a set of Leadership Principles that we felt necessary to introduce, especially as our company grew. These principles are not here to define a “correct” leadership style but rather they reflect how we as a company strive to make decisions, resolve conflicts, and treat others. These are the principles by which we aspire to lead and hold ourselves accountable while also remaining conscious of our leadership culture. We know one size does not fit all when it comes to leading people. We value different styles of leadership because we value difference first and foremost. Our leadership principles ensure that we put out people first and strive to foster an environment based on honesty, trust, open communication, and respect.
In this article, we want to share our leadership principles in more detail and explain what they mean to us as they showcase our culture and what we stand for and believe in at SimScale.
SimScale’s Leadership Principles
1. Strive for meritocracy in which the best ideas win
When it comes to decision-making and sharing ideas we strive to foster a meritocratic environment, where the best idea wins. We do this by building diverse and inclusive teams in an environment built on trust, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions while also encouraging our teams to challenge each other through thoughtful disagreement. We want leaders to approach discussions with a scientific mindset while also being able to critically assess their own arguments and viewpoints. We want decisions to be made on facts and data, not rhetorics. Therefore we will always go with the best idea, not the idea of the most senior team member, nor the idea with the most votes, but the strongest idea with the most promising outcome.
2. The one closest to the problem makes the decision
We want to build a culture of clear ownership that leads people to make sensible decisions. Therefore we ask leaders to use their “manager veto” wisely and rarely, but also to consider why they need to step in in the first place. We believe that the best decisions are made where the understanding of the problem is the highest. Thus we encourage leaders to empower their team members to make decisions autonomously based on their expertise and knowledge but also to have the confidence to step out of their comfort zone and share their opinions.
“This principle encourages engineers to make decisions in the design and development without the need for the approval from their managers. The manager should present the idea and the context about a new feature, but then it is up to an engineer to do it. The principle also inspires engineers to propose new features and improvements at SimScale.”
– Jaka Špeh, CAD Developer & Team Lead
3. There are no bad teams, there are just bad leaders
There should never be a situation where a leader blames their team for the failure of a project. When a leader is responsible for a team or initiative they have the power to make the decisions required to generate a certain outcome. We want leaders to hold themselves accountable and to see their team as their legacy, and to almost aim at making themselves redundant in the process. A leader should share their knowledge and coach and encourage others to achieve their full potential.
4. Demand excellence —from yourself and others
We strive to build world-class teams, therefore we expect our leaders to lead by example and demand the same standard of excellence from themselves as they do their teams. A good leader should never ask others to do something that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves. We believe the standard of performance is set by what you tolerate, not by what you preach.
“I truly believe that having the freedom to be creative and work autonomously whilst at the same time collaborating with great people creates an environment where you want to achieve the best results without being asked for! And even when we might fail at times, as a team we encourage each other to get up and continue. To me this means demanding excellence without having to explicitly point it out. Sharing and receiving recognition is part of this process too and I find it rewarding to see the motivation and excitement in my team members. As a supervisor, I find it crucial to give the freedom my team members need whilst at the same time letting them know that I’m happy to jump in whenever they need my help, and this always means that I am equally as happy to do whatever I ask my team members to work on.”
– Lisa Widmann, Talent Acquisition Manager
5. Manage a team like a professional sports team, not a family
We encourage leaders to manage their teams like a professional sports team, not like a family. The members of a professional sports team earn their place via performance. Great professional sports teams deliver results, but also deeply care for the members of their team. Team members rely on each other, trust each other and support and help one another. At the same time, everyone recognizes their part to play in support of the overall team’s success.
6. Process serves people, not the other way around
We have standard operating procedures and guidelines for a reason, however, there may be situations where a “good judgment call” is required and makes the most sense rather than following the process. We can all agree that change is the only constant and as we grow and evolve as a business we understand that certain processes only work until they don’t. We hire smart, honest people who we trust to hold themselves accountable and to make good decisions based on the context given.
7. Do not tolerate “Them vs. Us”
We feel the right way to address conflict between people is open, direct, and honest communication. We want to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings which could serve to foster a “Them vs. Us” culture.
“I embraced open, direct, and honest communication long ago as I directly experienced its benefits: your colleagues don’t have to guess what you’re really saying, they won’t hear it from others in the organization, and, last but not least, they know you mean it. There’s no hidden agenda. When I joined SimScale, seeing this and our other leadership principles truly in action, provided me with the best psychological safety net I could hope for and allowed the Marketing team to thrive because of it. A direct consequence of adopting open communication is the practically non-existent gossiping. Discussions may happen, but ultimately, we get together and share our views to find the root cause and solve it, there’s no us vs them, there’s only a challenge to overcome.”
– Valerio Marra, VP Marketing
8. Everyone is fighting a battle you don’t know about
Although we always try to put our best foot forward, at the end of the day we are still humans with our own stories and baggage. You never know what struggles people are going through in their personal lives. Empathy, kindness, and respect are essential. Leaders should approach all conversations constructively whilst also affording their team members the benefit of the doubt. We need our leaders to be compassionate and approachable so when the going gets tough, employees know where to turn and don’t feel hesitant to do so.
For now, these principles act as a cultural artifact and standard for how we want our leaders to treat those that they lead, but they certainly are not set in stone. In fact, we view these principles as more of a “living document” that we will continuously revisit, review, and adapt over time as we evolve as a business. Hopefully, this article shares a good insight into the type of culture we strive to maintain at SimScale. If SimScale sounds like the sort of environment you would enjoy working in as much as we do, then definitely check out our careers page for any interesting openings that could be a good fit!
Stay tuned for more insights into SimScale and see what the team has been up to on our @lifeatsimscale Instagram feed. Want to start your own SimScale story? Make sure to keep an eye on our careers page for possible openings!