DR HANNES LEROY AND PISITTA VONGSWASDI
Acting on advice of the speakers in the main sessions to ‘listen more’, this break-out session asked participants to give their own examples and experiences of great leadership development activities. While some examples were ‘unimaginable’ and highly unusual, they also provided an important reflection of the ways to sift out what really works from the fads that constantly circulate. Favourite exercises included 360° feedback, internal workshops, personal narrative workshops, and experiencing failure. Participants commented it’s important to be aware of different ways of understanding and cultural filters, and that as a manager, ‘everything starts with you. Accept others and change yourself.’ “We are working hard on the official report!” say session leaders Dr Hannes Leroy and Pisitta Vongswasdi.
DR MEIR SHEMLA
Most people believe there is a business case for diversity and that greater gender diversity benefits organisations – but that’s not supported by evidence. More than 20 years of research shows the relationship between diversity and performance is anything but simple and linear, and can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Participants volunteered their experiences and views about the role of leaders in realising the promise of diversity in organisational teams. It can contribute to the bottom line if done correctly. Assistant Professor Meir Shemla asked participants to suggest several principles that can help to realise the potential of diversity. Suggestions included actions that balance between encouragement of differences and the creation of a shared identity. Thus, on the one hand, leaders should foster an environment that appreciates and respects differences, while at the same time should strive to create a shared identity through by communicating a clear vision that signals an attractive shared future. In conclusion, diversity can contribute to the bottom line if done correctly.
DR ANNE NEDERVEEN PIETERSE AND DR INGA HOEVER
“This was the rare case when lowering the bar led to new insights,” said participant Joey Johannsen after a full and energising session on leading teams. First, participants contended with the practicalities of co-ordination, then shared their experiences and best practices. In this process participants and facilitators coined a new phrase, hearning (hearing + learning), and engaged in it right away to walk away with valuable thoughts for consideration, said session leaders Dr Anne Nederveen Pieterse and Dr Inga Hoever.
DR MURAT TARAKCI
There’s a new role for middle managers in the strategic renewal of their organisations. Why is this important? Because the traditional role of middle managers, of co-ordination and executing strategy, can now be performed by advanced analytical tools, prompting Dr Murat Tarakci to ask participants in this break-out session if the increasing number of replacements of middle managers with flatter hierarchies means middle management is dead. Participants suggested ways to revitalise and increase the relevancy of the role of middle managers – by innovating and championing new initiatives, which can help with the strategic renewal of their organisations.
EVA ROOD AND SIMON MOOLENAAR
A new industry is rising: landscape restoration. Participants in this break-out session, led by Dr Simon Moolenaar (Commonland) and Eva Rood (RSM’s Centre for Eco-transformation), learned that with multi-stakeholder partnerships large areas of land are restored, based on a sound business case and with attention to returns of financial, social ánd natural capital, and return of inspiration. Why is this relevant for business professionals and students? It’s highly innovative, and with two billion hectares of degraded land on this planet, there’s plenty of opportunity to make impact! Watch RSM’s Willem Ferwerda explain how business schools can contribute to ecosystem restoration.
PROF. MATHIJS VAN DIJK
While exploring the roles of financial systems in society, a clear consensus emerged in this session: the financial sector is very important for the economy and for society more generally, but reforms are needed. Prof. Mathijs van Dijk linked the ‘me’ culture in the financial sector to a broader trend towards quantitative goal-setting (KPIs), shareholder value, and a more calculating mindset. Participants reached less consensus about progress so far: some see transition to ‘we’ culture, others are sceptical. Change in leadership and culture is key!
PROF. LUCAS MEIJS
What for-profit professionals must UNlearn when becoming a non-profit or NGO board member proved to be a thought-provoking topic in this session, led by Prof. Lucas Meijs. He says the most important issue addressed was the need to understand that both donors as beneficiaries are not customers. Participants learned that as a board member you need to balance these two parties in order to help your organisation to achieve its mission. Meijs says this must be done under circumstances of difficulties in connecting to the mission and lacking hierarchy.