TomTom's Leadership Foundation: Encouraging leadership at every level
Christian Lynn·Jan 12, 2023

TomTom's Leadership Foundation: Encouraging leadership at every level

Christian Lynn
Staff Writer
Jan 12, 2023 · 4 min read
Leadership Foundation: Encouraging Leadership at Every Level | TomTom

Everyone has an idea of what a leader is. Someone with certain characteristics; maybe even in a certain position. It seems easy to identify them at work, on TV, in films, books and sport – your manager, your Ned Starks, your Dumbledores, your sports captains, like Lionel Messi. The characteristics that make someone a leader usually appear obvious. However, TomTom views leadership as something much broader.

TomTom views leadership as a choice that anyone can make.    

Whether you’re at a junior or managerial level, everyone has the potential to become a leader in their area of expertise and life. In a recent interview, Eric Bowman, TomTom’s Chief Technology Officer, elaborated: 

“The most effective way to look at leadership is not that it is some authority granted to you, but that it is a complex set of behaviors that people can learn. We develop those behaviors so that people can look at the gap between where they are and where they want to be, and approach that as a problem to solve.” 

TomTom considers leadership through the lens of action, seizing opportunities that come your way and overcoming obstacles that might have stopped you in the past. It’s about how others perceive you – as a trusted source of information or a friend they can turn to for inspiration. Ultimately, it’s about having a vision for what you want your future to look like and working to realize it. TomTom encourages this.

However, it’s one thing to talk about leadership, but it’s another thing to put into practice. That’s why TomTom introduced the Leadership Foundation to TomTom’ers, giving them a base to excel from.

What is the Leadership Foundation?

The Leadership Foundation consists of four behaviors, five principles and six values. Our behaviors, if embodied, bring out the leader in every TomTom’er. Our principles positively influence decision-making on an individual and team level. Finally, our values build up the TomTom experience – they’re our DNA. All of these are outlined below:

The Leadership Foundation, including all the behaviors, principles and values.
If followed, the Leadership Foundation gives each TomTom’er the ability to take the lead in all aspects of their career at every level: to make an impact. And, they were created with a multitude of situations in mind – when opportunities present themselves to TomTom’ers where they could show leadership, they can turn to the Leadership Foundation for inspiration.  

Returning to the interview with Eric Bowman, a founding member of its Leadership Foundation, he elaborated on this:

“The opportunity that comes from working in an enterprise is that you have the opportunity to create something bigger than yourself… Part of what makes that a satisfying and meaningful experience is when it includes sufficient autonomy, purpose and the opportunity to achieve mastery.”

But, as always, it’s easier said than done. So, let’s look at some practical ways in which anyone can apply the Leadership Foundation in their lives.

Applying leadership to everyday work

It’s not simply a case of mindset but also action. However, it’s important to remember that “[Knowing] what to do is situational and requires judgement,” Eric Bowman says.  

To expand, it’s about looking at the situation in front of you and identifying how a particular behavior or principle could improve the way a process is completed, the way a meeting is held, etc.  

Let’s say your team is experiencing unclear management and confusion over the most efficient way to work. Rather than shouting the loudest or leaving the problem to be solved by someone else, look at the practical ways of having an impact: 

  • You can show ownership by looking at who’s involved in the team and how their skills would best be used. By doing this, you’ll also positively influence any outcome as well. 

  • Additionally, you could bring in the principles. Simplify a complex process so all stakeholders can work more autonomously. Plus, taking ownership doesn’t mean shutting off your ears to suggestions – even if you disagree with an idea personally, but the team believes in it, commit to it.  

The same logic and approach apply to any business-as-usual task. You wouldn’t typically consider it as an opportunity to show leadership. And yet, with the Leadership Foundation, a by-the-numbers situation becomes a chance to close the gap between how something is now and how you want it to be.  

Why you should show leadership today

No matter your career level, walk of life, background or personality, TomTom believes anyone can be a leader at any level. The benefits of doing so are endless, not just for yourself but also for the people around you. Change the way things are done. Influence and inspire others – help them grow through your knowledge. And, most importantly, learn from others: outstanding leadership also comes from listening to others.  

This is what drives every decision at TomTom. TomTom’ers are revolutionizing mapmaking by engineering the first real-time map. This requires leaders – people who are able to push the boundaries of geolocation technology.

Let this mentality drive what you’re doing, so you can make your ambitions a reality.  

Pursue your ambitions. Help others reach theirs. Choose to lead at TomTom. 

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