How to boost your impact: Understanding TomTom’s five leadership principles
Christian Lynn·Apr 11, 2023

How to boost your impact: Understanding TomTom’s five leadership principles

Christian Lynn
Staff Writer
Apr 11, 2023 · 3 min read
Understanding TomTom’s five leadership principles | TomTom Newsroom

Big ambitions call for clear actions. But making the right decision is easier said than done. Where do you start? How do you develop an idea? What’s the best way of collaborating to reach shared goals and grow together along the way? TomTom has defined basic principles of leadership that everyone can follow to answer these questions, helping TomTom’ers make a greater impact in work and life.

TomTom’s idea of taking the lead is built around the Leadership Foundation. It’s a combined set of principles, behaviors and values that make up the DNA of the TomTom experience. By embodying these, TomTom’ers can make an impact in every situation.  

Previously, we shared how TomTom'ers use the Leadership Foundation behaviors to create a positive, collaborative working environment. The principles relate more to the actual work being done: how can TomTom’ers take the most successful avenue to bring us a step closer to the goal of the first real-time map. There are five principles.

The Leadership Foudnation, including all the behaviors, principles and values.
Let’s elaborate on what each means:  

  • Start with yes – have a positive attitude and listen to new ideas before discussing their possibilities.  

  • Impress the customer – take a solution and ensure it reaches the customer with maximum impact. 

  • Simplify the complex – make sure anything you deliver is easy to use and provide feedback on (we’re all human, after all).  

  • Better every day – develop skills together to ensure a team is optimized to make the most effective decisions.   

  • Disagree and commit – ensure mutual respect between each other’s opinions, hear each other out, and follow through on an idea because it’s right for the team.  

Think of the principles as a helpful guide on a video game quest. They’re not there to show you the answer but to help guide and empower you to make the best choices for the team and your shared goal.  

Start with yes

Asking questions and making sure an idea has been thought through is important. But there’s a suitable time for everything and asking too many questions too early can hinder more than help.  

Next time someone brings a new idea to you – start with yes. Acknowledge and remain open to the possibilities of what’s been brought to you. Their proposal may surprise you. 

Do you know if every proposal will work out? Unlikely. Will you open up new opportunities while creating a collaborative environment where people can share their ideas freely?  Definitely. TomTom’ers show leadership by coming at new ideas with a positive mindset. Starting conversations with this little three-letter word will solve more problems than you think. Try it.

Impress the customer

If you come up with an idea, it can be an exciting, eureka-level moment. However, TomTom’ers are encouraged to look deeper than the initial spark. Whether it’s an automated process improvement, a new application, or something else, does the idea address a problem in a way that hasn’t been considered? Will it excite customers? Even if the tiniest adjustment makes a day easier, then mission accomplished! 

 Working at TomTom isn’t just a list of to-dos – TomTom’ers take the lead to find the opportunities to make an impact, no matter the scale.  

Simplify the complex

Reading a complicated instruction manual is the bane of everyone’s life. Trying to put together a piece of furniture, you’re being asked to use a specific screw when they all look the same. The images could look blurry; the instructions may not even be in your language. Undoubtedly, that furniture hasn’t made it to completion unscathed.  

Now, take a successful company like IKEA. They’ve simplified the complex – its manuals have no words and work in all territories. They’re basic and visual, marking out what piece is which, how each screw differs and what to avoid doing, so there’s no need for any returns. DIY would become DIYWBD: ‘Do It Yourself Without Breaking Down.’ 

TomTom’ers are dealing with intricate technology that’s solving complex problems. But TomTom’ers show leadership by delivering this technology in a similar way to IKEA: in its most accessible but effective form. TomTom’s navigation interface, for example, has been developed by TomTom’ers to have only the most vital information on the screen, keeping the focus on the road ahead. Then there are the SDKs, kept simple so anyone can use them to develop a game-changing application or improve city layouts to reduce traffic congestion. No matter what, put ease of use first.

Better every day

Making the right decisions doesn’t only apply to the project being worked on. How TomTom’ers decide to learn, develop and support each other also matters.  

This principle ties into the “Multiplying” behavior of the Leadership Foundation. TomTom’ers are encouraged to share what they know and learn from their colleagues.  

So, say there's a delay in the delivery of a map or SDK update. A TomTom’er’s team member has just joined and is getting used to our internal systems. "Better every day” encourages them to speak to this team member, guiding them through TomTom’s processes so they feel more confident to complete their tasks at an even quicker but more effective rate. 
Not only are TomTom’ers supporting each other: there’s development within the team. Like clockwork, if a little love and encouragement are shared with each team member, it works together stronger than ever. Everyone literally wins.  

Disagree and commit

Leadership is never about being the loudest in the room. The key ingredients for success are a collaborative and safe environment where TomTom’ers listen to each other and resolve a problem together.  

Yet, there may be a disagreement on the way to that resolution. Every TomTom’er is encouraged to get involved and speak openly. But what happens if the majority of your team is behind that idea? At TomTom, leadership shouldn’t start from “my idea must come first” – being a leader is stepping back and committing to the team’s decision and seeing how it goes.  

Let’s say you’re deciding on a visual element for an application: how it looks, including the color palette. Everyone has an opinion on what kind of look they prefer. But your team has decided on a specific visual style and user layout that doesn’t fit your original vision. Don’t shut it down: you only know how you feel once you see the final product. And at TomTom, there are no bad conclusions, only opportunities to pick, start over and commit to a second go (maybe with your idea).  

What it all comes back to

TomTom puts impact first. The Leadership Foundation is designed to give anyone the skills to make that impact, and the principles play a vital role in this. Committing to a direction for a project or piece of work can be the toughest decision to make: as a writer that might struggle to find those opening words or structure, I know this better than anyone. But at TomTom, by following these principles, you and your team can get started confidently, developing something that makes a difference while learning from each other. 

Deliver products that won’t just fall into obscurity but will solve meaningful, real-world problems simply and effectively. Support your colleagues to reach each other’s targets. Follow TomTom’s principles and lead the way in engineering the first real-time map. If you’re ready, all it takes is to start with a yes. 

Make decisions that matter. Join TomTom, find your impact and create what hasn’t been done before. 

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