In good company

Nicolai Tangen, the CEO of the Norwegian Oil Fund, has given us unique access to great leaders and thinkers through the podcast “In Good Company”. In the series, Tangen interviews CEOs from companies in the Fund’s portfolio as well as thinkers on topics like leadership and strategy – and a good corporate culture.

In one of the latest episodes, Tangen talks to Amy Edmondson, a professor at the Harvard Business School, about creating a culture of psychological safety where people aren’t afraid to speak their minds. A couple of things struck me from the conversation.

First, a comment was made about passion being grossly undervalued as a virtue. I found this particularly true. We all need to be able to answer the questions about why we exist, and why we are excited to be in our jobs. Who are we actually serving, and why does it matter?

Secondly, the two discussed the need to be passionate and humble at the same time. I am personally passionate about my work, but I know that passion risks getting in the way of honesty. It is hard to be critical or sceptical when someone is all fired up to get moving. This is where we need to look out. We need honesty to make sure that we understand all aspects of what we are trying to do.

Thirdly, we need to take in that “all of us” is smarter than “any one of us”. If we want to get access to the vast experience, diversity and ideas of the team, we need to be curious and all ears. I know from personal experience that this isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible to remember to ask: “What am I missing”? If we all open up to alternative views or dimensions, it would surely be a big positive. The really good news, according to Amy Edmondson, is that in creating psychological safety, it is helpful to bring everyone in and allow for the tough and different questions.

Psychological safety increases its value because more people dare to ask the difficult questions.

Kredinor and Modhi have just become one company. On the 1st of October, the two companies combined. We are now not only the oldest but also the largest company in the sector in Norway. As we now have joined forces, we are about to decide what our common values should be. The process is ongoing, and I am not going to rush to any conclusions, but I will at least share that our values should reflect our passion for supporting our customers and our commitment to being curious and building trust, safety and knowledge.

On a personal note, I find it quite remarkable that Nicolai Tangen seems to have changed the Oil Fund’s communication strategy from “need to know” to “the more, the merrier”. Nicolai obviously understands that the Oil Fund is working on behalf of all Norwegian citizens. And in doing so, the best way to create trust is to be open and to make sure that more of us understand what the fund is actually doing.


This is a huge cultural shift and is an inspiration to all of us. Thanks, Nicolai!


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