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How leaders can stay on top

How leaders can stay on top

Posted by Vlerick Business School
on Dec 10, 2018
in Leadership

How do you get the diversity within a team to flourish? And how do you, as a coach, win as much influence as possible within your organisation? The boundaries of an organisation are becoming less distinct: today’s companies are looking for collaboration and win-win formulas with competitors, customers and suppliers. To maintain a competitive advantage, a balanced relationship is needed with as many stakeholders as possible.

Diversity and creativity

It doesn’t make sense to force all employees to work the same way (it’s not necessary to get all noses pointing in the same direction. To innovate successfully, you need diversity and creativity in your team. And this can be activated with inclusive leadership. Drop your preconceptions, make sure that your employees can be themselves, and the talent will rise to the surface almost automatically.

How do you tackle that as a leader? According to Vlerick Business School’s Professor Katleen De Stobbeleir it comes down to 4 things: authenticity, inclusion, relationships and good questions.


There are 4 important dimensions in our life: our personal time, our hobbies and family, our work, and our place in society. “Good leaders keep the 4 dimensions well balanced for themselves and their employees. They intervene and express their concerns before they’re faced with a burn-out.”


A typical European management team consists of white men in their fifties with a similar background. But when is an organisation at its weakest? When everybody thinks the same way and always agrees. It’s not enough to bring more diversity into a management team, you also have to be willing to take the next step. Do the newcomers get a voice? Do you let them change the direction of your company? Or are they only allowed to agree with your plans? “Inclusive leadership means you listen to all the voices and ideas. That can only increase the motivation, creativity and success of your team.


Sometimes, we don’t see new ideas or smart solutions because we’re putting out the wrong questions. Don’t ask for the result of 5 plus 5, ask how you can get to 10. There are so many different ways to reach your goals, it’s very interesting to explore them all. “It all starts with 3 simple questions: What do you want to achieve? How can you get there? And why is that so important? Share the answers with your team and they will feel more committed and involved.


In relationships, we give and we take. We’re happy when we find the right balance. But if you want to enlarge your influence in an organisation, it can be a lot more advantageous to ‘pay if forward’. “You give, but you don’t ask for anything in return. You just ask them to pass on the favour and the knowledge to somebody else.


We all have this image of a leader: loud, bossy, independent, self-confident and full of ambition. But don’t worry if that doesn’t really describe you. “Good leaders can be introverts too. It really doesn’t matter what kind of personality you have, as long as you stay true to yourself and behave like a responsible leader. Just be authentic, but with more skill,” says Professor De Stobbeleir.

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