Automotive: We must have a horizontal leadership | Nexer
Skip to content

We must have a horizontal leadership

Software opens doors to endless possibilities in the automotive industry. However, each integration adds complexity that is not only technical, but also organisational and managerial. That is the opinion of Anna Börjesson Sandberg, VP, Digital Transformation at Volvo Group Trucks Technology. 

– The opportunity to connect all aspects of vehicles, from design to performance, is amazing. Through software, we can produce enormous value that makes life easier and more sustainable. And we can do it quickly. But every time we integrate software, we build complexity, says Anna Börjesson Sandberg. 
Anna Börjesson Sandberg believes that this complexity cannot be managed top-down. Instead, it requires horizontal leadership where people collaborate across traditional silos and follow different leaders depending on the nature of the tasks. 
– The vertical hierarchy works well in some contexts, but as the pace of change accelerates, a more flexible and collaborative leadership structure is required. There is a lot of talk about horizontal leadership today, but we need to move from words to action. A first step is to set clear expectations of what it means, followed by work in multiple dimensions to ensure a broad and deep understanding.  
Horizontal leadership does not only mean that those who lead must be extremely sensitive to others who lead – it also means increased responsibility for the individual, as it is generally more difficult to get assignments from multiple sources. This places greater demands on prioritising and solving complex problems through collaboration. 
– Balancing collaboration and individual delivery can be a challenge. As individuals, we fundamentally want to succeed in our assignments; we want to feel that we are contributing and delivering. But collaboration often means looking at the bigger picture, rather than focusing on your own small delivery. And that can be a huge challenge. 
Anna Börjesson Sandberg emphasises that horizontal leadership does not exclude the need for architecture. Managing the transformation of the automotive industry requires a holistic approach where architecture, horizontal leadership and blended competencies are key factors.   
– Combining deep specialist knowledge with broad understanding, represented by ‘T-shape’ and ‘I-shape’ individuals, will be crucial to quickly navigate through the increasing complexity,” concludes Anna Börjesson Sandberg. 



Nexer offers you to sign up for a VIP meeting with our industry experts! You’ll get personalised guidance and recommendations to address your unique business needs in a collaborative and insightful session. The session is free of charge.