Floris Alberse

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Leadership development

What is leadership development? How do you know when you need to work on your leadership skills? Who is responsible for leadership development? How do you develop your leadership? And what can all of this do for you?

For executives and directors

Research says that the speaking time of people “at the top” gets longer and longer as their careers progress. Before you know it, you’re spending more time talking than being tuned in to others. As a result, your people may lose their passion. An important trait of a good leader, besides making good decisions, is the ability to be curious, to ask questions and to listen. In other words: to create a space for learning and building leadership together. This all starts with improving your awareness of the impact of your own behavior.

Six questions and answers regarding leadership development.

1. What is leadership development?

There are three levels to leadership development: personal growth, the growth of your executive team and leadership development in the organization. Management and leadership are not the same thing. Management is about powering day-to-day processes. Leadership development is about continually building awareness: awareness of yourself and the system you are a part of. This helps you to contribute more effectively to the purpose of the organization and to do the right thing for society and the planet.

The purpose of leadership development is to learn new perspectives and skills to move yourself, the organization and society forward. This is the key difference between management and leadership:

Management: “Are we doing things right?” Command & control.

Leadership: “Are we doing the right things?” Sense & respond.

Changes within and outside your organization always demand for new, adequate responses and decisions. How do you (re)organize the relationships between people and departments when things start shifting? As a director, management team and organization, it is a constant process of learning and development. That’s why I think of leadership as an art. And because it is always personal – connected to who you are at your core – I talk about leadership as an art of living.

2. When do you need to work on leadership development?

Leadership development is an ongoing process that requires constant attention, just like housework or office maintenance. When things are going well in your work, in your executive team and in your organization, ask yourself: how do I make sure to keep things great over time? With this question in mind, you work on cultivating joy, improving relationships and achieving meaningful results.

Another reason you might need to work on leadership is when you go through a big life event. In your executive team or organization this could be a merger, a leadership change, a scandal or a change of strategy. Such events shake up the organization and challenge you as a leader: how did we get here, where are we now and how do we proceed? This also applies in other situations, like when results have been falling short, there is high absenteeism or a negative vibe in the company.

Leadership development can also benefit you after a major event in your personal life. Moving to another city or country, losing a loved one, losing your job, starting a new relationship or ending one, experiencing burnout or the start of a new life phase. These are all situations in which life asks you: what’s next?

Lastly, our world today faces some major social issues that call for leadership development. Global warming, environmental destruction and biodiversity loss are only a few. We also see increasing societal unrest, uncertainty and anxiety, as well as the rise of AI and increased pressure in all kinds of professional sectors. What part do you want to play in all this?

3. Who is responsible for leadership development?

The short answer is: you. Not because you as a person are more special than others (although I could be wrong here ;-)), but because your position as a director or manager puts you in a unique place. You are authorized to make big decisions, which gives you a specific power position within a group. In the Netherlands we sometimes think of power as a dirty word, but we can’t deny its impact.

If you’re a leader, the people around you look towards you. When you sit down at the table, the conversation changes. Even if you’re an approachable boss, you’re still their boss. People hear your words differently than those of their peers. Your behavior is under even more scrutiny. If you say one thing but do another, it’s your actions that will go down in history. Your behavior matters much more than your words.

Leadership development can truly take off when the top of the organization starts by taking a critical look at itself. In the past, I have supervised wonderful leadership sessions and programs in which middle managers and top talents got a chance to grow. But when they went back to work with their newly gained awareness and behavior, they got the door slammed in their faces by their bosses and quickly crawled back into their shells. Despite HR’s efforts and the money and time invested in leadership training, very little will change if top managers and directors aren’t cooperative. So if you want leadership styles in the entire organization to change, the ball is in your court.

Even changing small things about your behavior can make a big difference. I like to tell a story about a CEO I know as an example. This person was at the head of an organization of vocal and articulate people. In his end-of-year speech he decided not to give them a polished story, but to open up about how he was learning and the struggles he encountered in the process. In doing so, he opened up a new layer of intimacy: a symbolic space for employees to meet each other.

This story shows that a group of people can only grow as quickly as its leaders. That’s why you as a director or manager are so important.

4. How to develop your own leadership?

Many counselors and consultants have written books on leadership development. From practical self-help books to management literature and reflections on the world. There is a vast range of training and courses in leadership development on the market. So where do you start?

Again, I would answer: start with yourself. Changing even the smallest thing can create a ripple in the organization. An important tool for organizational and cultural change therefore lies in your own behavior and beliefs. If you’re open to learning, you give others permission and encouragement to do the same, to be vulnerable and tread new paths. You contribute to the psychological safety needed for change.

Questions to ask yourself

5. How do you develop your organization’s leadership?

A leadership board sets an example to the whole organization. All eyes are on you and staff respond to your behavior. If there’s a lack of mutual trust, it can be felt across departments. So the first step in organizational leadership development is to start working with your own team.

An important maxim here is: contact before contract. Relationships come first, work second. After all, if things are good on a relational level, the work is a breeze. So, investing in mutual trust pays off. If you get along and can call each other out on your behavior, the entire organization will reap the benefits.

So what is a good time to work on your leadership? It could be when a new team is being formed, or when tensions are rising, or before you implement a new strategy.

When you have a good grip on your development as a management team, you can expand leadership development efforts throughout the organization. It doesn’t have to be in that order necessarily, as long as you are willing to keep examining your own behavior. In a sense, it is never too late, and certainly never too early.

Questions for your board of directors

6. How can leadership development help you? What are the benefits?

Personal leadership development is about building towards a way of working and living that aligns with who you are. About feeling more connected in relationships that matter to you and experiencing meaning in life. Sometimes that means coming clean about experiences from your past, so that you can feel more relaxed in the present. It may sound big, but ultimately, it’s all about you getting closer to your authentic self and walking your own path in life. About experiencing a sense of peace, joy and fulfillment. So that it feels good to say: “everything is just right”.

Your personal challenges as a leader are intertwined with the challenges of the organization as a whole. Like I said before, a company can only grow as quickly as its leaders. Ultimately, I hope your growth will inspire others. They will learn from your attitude, behavior and vision and in that way, you will work towards meaningful results.

Leadership development helps build a strong and healthy organization where you and your team(s) can focus on your mission. People feel a strong connection to each other and the organization. They know who is responsible for what and experience mutual trust. They feel an internal drive to work, because your objectives are clear and everyone taps into their unique talents. Your people feel happier and everyone is empowered to achieve meaningful results for customers and society as a whole.

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Join the waiting list and I will contact you as soon as I’m available for a new client. Depending on my schedule, this will usually be between 4 to 8 weeks. If your issue is urgent, please let me know and I will try to prioritize your appointment.

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What do you want to develop? And what can a leadership program with Floris bring you?


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Volle agenda?

Het kan er wel eens bij inschieten om stil te staan bij de echte vragen in het leven en leiderschap.

Ik bied je graag drie reflectiemomenten aan: je ontvangt ze per mail en ze duren een paar minuten.

Zodat je je dag daarna met aandacht en focus kunt continueren. En op termijn wellicht meer plezier en voldoening ervaart.

Zin in drie reflectiemomenten?

Uitschrijven kan altijd met één klik. Je gegevens zijn veilig en worden nooit met anderen gedeeld.

Your schedule full of meetings?

Then it can get away from time to time to dwell on the real questions in your life and leadership. This is what I regularly hear from directors and administrators who contact me.

That’s why I offer three reflection retreats. They are nano retreats of a few minutes that I send you by email. So that afterwards you can continue your day with pleasure and satisfaction.


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