I had the honor to be in the room with one of the leaders of the ecological movement, Satish Kumar, two days before this defining moment in our society, the election of a dark leader as ruler of an important part of the world. And it was fun and inspiring to be with him. He is over 80 years old and has the energy of a twenty-something. “We live in a great time for activism. Now…
The role of leaders at the top is changing. They are no longer the “boss” as they used to be, the person in charge of an organization with a clear reporting line to their board of directors. Their formal authority and power has declined in this age of interdependency. This affects their leadership in three fundamental ways. Their leadership has become more trans-organizational. Trans-organizational…
”Leadership without easy answers.” (Heifetz, 1994) It’s the title of one of my all time favorite books about leadership. And it’s what comes to my mind day after day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels. I’m not so tempted to comment on the words and actions of our leaders as I was after the attacks in Paris. Yes they shouldn’t have pass the bucket to someone else.…
“Can an organization be too divergent?” asked a middle manager of a large bank me in a development journey? He was taking up the role of Facilitating Adaptability a lot lately.  And the answer seems yes. I’ve seen it in several organizations that promote shared leadership. The top keeps repeating their mantra ‘everybody is leader’, ‘come with new ideas’, ‘it is…
The other day I was reading the hobbies of several C-level executives. And once again I found the usual suspects: cooking, history, art, classical music, old-timers, wine, golf, walking in the mountains … I’ve always wondered, do they do this because it is just part of the social class they belong to (cf. Bourdieu)? Or do they really enjoy it?  And why have these hobbies…
The other day I was reading the hobbies of several C-level executives. And once again I found the usual suspects: cooking, history, art, classical music, old-timers, wine, golf, walking in the mountains … I’ve always wondered, do they do this because it is just part of the social class they belong to (cf. Bourdieu)? Or do they really enjoy it?  And why have these hobbies never…
The good and bad cop routine, we all know it from the movies. The good cop says “trust me”. He or she connects, supports, understands. The bad cop says “Quit playing games”. He or she uses force and threatens. We also see it in leadership practice. The well-known ‘carrot and stick’ approach. Or the dilemma between warmth and strength. Between psychological and structural…
This summer I’ve interviewed 44 leaders in 4 organizations that are empowering their teams in their primary processes*. The organizations come from different sectors: public administration, health care, production and engineering. Which preliminary  lessons do I draw? 1) Self-managing teams are an illusion We have to stop talking about self-managing or autonomous teams.…
 “Could you do a 2 hour leadership workshop for our young entrepreneurs?” a client asked. “Off course”, was my reaction, “I love the spirit of start ups & entrepreneurs and would be more than happy to challenge them on their leadership.” “Great. And remember, it should be very hands on, not too theoretical. Entrepreneurs don’t like to waste their time,…
Jérôme Ravet is chief engineering at Sabca, one of the main aerospace companies in Belgium. Yesterday, during the Agoria seminar on the value of strategic partnerships, he told us an inspiring story about the extended manufacturing process of airplanes and how suppliers work together in close collaboration. Airplanes are so complex that they have to be built in a network. Critical…
“Tell me about your leadership,” I asked the division manager in front of me. “Well, a typical day starts with scanning my environment for relevant information and dispatch it in my organization. I also check on the numbers and answer urgent questions or complaints. I am responsible for 4 units with a total of +/- 50 people. I spend a lot of time being available for them,…
Many years ago, I sang Leonard Cohens Bird on a wire over and over again as a lullaby for my twin baby sons. It was one of the few songs I knew by heart. 'Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.' I sang it as much for them as for myself. New fathers know what I’m talking about. It’s a song about struggling your way to life…