Lead like Nordic Countries to Boost Well-being and Success

Any day now, our son Anthony and his gorgeous Swedish partner Sara will bless us with the birth of their first child (and our first grandchild). Anthony has been living and working in Sweden now for just over five years and he has often shared with me different ways he and Sara live by the Swedish cultural lifestyle known as Lagom.

Lagom is a way of life that centers around the belief that a life lived in moderation and balance is the key to happiness and contentment. Importantly, a Lagom lifestyle also has at its core the values of fairness, equality, social responsibility, emphasizing the importance of sharing resources and working together to create a more just and equitable society.

World Happiness Report 2023

So, when I read that the 2023 World Happiness Report has once again shown that Nordic countries (which includes Sweden) are leading the way when it comes to well-being compared to other countries across the globe, it got me thinking.

What sets these countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland apart from the rest of the world and results in their higher levels of well-being?

Well, according to the report, it’s their greater levels of trust, mutual respect, and support.

A Lesson in Leadership

If you’re a leader, there’s a great lesson here for you.

Hold yourself accountable for fostering trust, mutual respect, and support in your own teams and between individual team members, and there’s a big chance you’re going to positively impact the well-being of your individual and collective team members … oh, and at the same time, science also tells us, you’ll more than likely get a boost to your own sense of life satisfaction and well-being too.

So … how do you go about doing that?

How to Build Trust, Mutual Respect and Support

Here are some evidence-based, peer-reviewed strategies for you to increase trust, mutual respect, and support in your team:


Increase transparency: You can increase trust in your team by being transparent in your  decision-making and communication. When team members feel that you are open and honest, they are more likely to trust you. One way to increase transparency is to share information about your company goals, strategies, and performance, as well as by explaining your decisions and actions, and not just dishing out ‘commands’.

Build personal relationships: It might seem obvious, but you can build trust by getting to know your team members on a personal level. Examples include spending time with them outside of work hours, asking about their interests and goals, and showing genuine interest in their lives. The evidence is clear here … when team members feel that you care about them as people, they are more likely to trust you.

Mutual Respect:

Encourage open communication: You can foster mutual respect by creating an environment in which team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. You can encourage open communication by actively listening to them (individually and collectively), acknowledging their contributions, and providing constructive feedback. When team members feel that their voices are heard and valued, they are more likely to respect each other (and you).

Promote collaboration: You can also foster mutual respect by promoting collaboration among team members. By assigning tasks that require teamwork, encouraging cross-functional communication and involving team members in decision-making processes, you can create opportunities for team members to build relationships based on mutual respect.


Provide resources: You can support your team by providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This can involve providing training, tools and technology, and emotional support. When team members feel that you are invested in their success, they are more likely to be motivated and productive.

Recognize and celebrate successes: You can also support your team members by recognizing and celebrating their successes. By publicly acknowledging the contributions of team members, you can boost morale and create a culture of appreciation. This can involve providing feedback, giving rewards, and celebrating milestones and achievements. When team members feel recognized and valued for their contributions, they are more likely to feel supported and motivated.


Each of these strategies can help you increase trust, mutual respect, and support in your teams, which can lead to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction among team members.

Get creative and think of ways you can implement these strategies, using your own personality and style. When you do, you will be well on the way to creating an even more positive work environment that promotes collaboration, productivity, and overall success.


– Dirks, K. T., & Ferrin, D. L. (2002). Trust in leadership: Meta-analytic findings and implications for research and practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 611–628.
– Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709–734.

Mutual Respect:
– Pelled, L. H. (1996). Demographic diversity, conflict, and work group outcomes: An intervening process theory. Organization Science, 7(6), 615–631.
– Parker, S. K., & Axtell, C. M. (2001). Seeing another viewpoint: Antecedents and outcomes of employee perspective taking. Academy of Management Journal, 44(6), 1085–1100.

– Eisenberger, R., Stinglhamber, F., Vandenberghe, C., Sucharski, I. L., & Rhoades, L. (2002). Perceived supervisor support: Contributions to perceived organizational support and employee retention. Journal  of Applied Psychology, 87(3), 565–573.
– Grawitch, M. J., Ballard, D. W., & Erb, K. R. (2015). To be or not to be supported: The interactive roles of perceived organizational support and supervisor support in employee stress and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20(2), 158–169.



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