• 28 februari
  • Wendbaar

Good leadership: 'You don't have to be perfect'

Vlnr: Kathelijn Daemen, Jennifer Geiger en Wilma Aerts.
Fontys is committed to good leadership, for example by offering training courses and the leadership program. Soon the leadership profile will be launched. This profile consists of four pillars that help Fontys leaders set a good example: courageous, authentic, talent-oriented and connecting. Three leaders will tell more about their way of leading based on the leadership profile.

Jennifer Geiger, Kathelijn Daenen and Wilma Aerts, managers at Fontys, agree: leadership is something that has to suit you. 'I've certainly developed skills over the years that make me a better manager, but it's still mainly a role I naturally take,' says Kathelijn, education manager at Sport Science.

Soft on relationships

Jennifer Geiger
Jennifer Geiger

Without consulting each other, Jennifer, Wilma and Kathelijn all three describe themselves as "soft on relationships". 'I consider myself an approachable manager. I know from my own experience that you function better when you experience trust. I myself get that support from my manager. Because I feel comfortable in this role and get fine feedback from my team, I grow myself,' Jennifer, manager of operations at Fontys Engineering, has noticed.

Wilma, manager at Fontys Academy for the Creative Economy (ACE), complements her: 'I would like to ensure a culture in which we all feel comfortable and safe. It's important that people are happy in their work.' Kathelijn: 'I would describe my way of leading as servant leadership. I would like people to be in their power, to feel autonomy and be able to take their own responsibility within agreed frameworks.'

Adapting to the team

Wilma Aerts
Wilma Aerts

The trick is to adapt your leadership to what your team needs, Jennifer believes. When someone new joins, I sometimes have to be very task-oriented. Like: this is what I expect from you. But someone who has worked here for a long time may need to be challenged and given the confidence to act independently.

At ACE, Wilma is working on a project to give the entire support team more control over their work and make them more agile. 'You can't impose something like that from above. Together with my manager and the support staff, we made sure that it really is something for the whole team. This way of working has to come from within them, otherwise it won't work. And we have already made great strides.'

'I have to slow down my teachers rather than drive them,' says Kathelijn. 'I love that enthusiasm, but I sometimes protect people from themselves to make sure they don't overdo it.'

Being Yourself

Can you be authentically yourself in your work as an executive? Wilma, Kathelijn and Jennifer think so, with a small caveat. 'By being open and genuinely interested, I also get that trust back. A supervisor is very decisive for the atmosphere, I have to set a good example,' thinks Wilma.

That doesn't mean you have to be perfect. 'Precisely not! I too am allowed to make mistakes, as long as I dare to come back to them. People appreciate that vulnerability," Kathelijn has noticed. Jennifer: 'I do have to be a bit more strategic. But I'm no different here than I am at home, at most I take decisions a little easier at work.'

Kathelijn recognizes that. 'I have learned over the years to react a little less primary, I think more carefully about the effect of what I do. But I don't play a role, I'm sure my team knows me well.' A good atmosphere is very important. 'We laugh a lot here. I have a role in that, too. It shouldn't just be about the work,' Wilma adds.

Courage needed

Kathelijn Daenen
Kathelijn Daenen

Being a good leader certainly requires courage, all three find. My job is to make choices and defend them, even in the face of opposition. What is also very important is standing up for my team and standing up for my people. That is where my loyalty lies. Even if it makes my own work more difficult," says Jennifer.

It is part of the job that difficult choices have to be made. The manager has to get ahead of the troops. Kathelijn: 'I can't hide, and sometimes I need guts. If someone hasn't done something right, I have to have the courage to say so, in a constructive way. If something is not going well, I have to intervene, even if some people are not happy about it. And if tough policies are needed, I have to implement them. As long as I keep communicating well and make room for conversations if there is a need for them.'

Daring to speak out

Daring to make choices is certainly important, but daring to be vulnerable also requires courage. Just like being open and honest with each other and daring to speak out. Giving each other feedback in the right way is not that easy, but we are getting better at it,' says Wilma. Her goal is to make herself redundant. 'Then my mission will be accomplished.'

All three enjoy consulting with colleagues. Jennifer experiences a lot of support from the Learning & Development Community at Fontys. 'I like to spar with other managers. I learn a lot from that.' Kathelijn is also happy to spar with others. 'I learn a lot from my manager. She has a different background from me and that works very well. I've been working at Fontys for 22 years, but I'm still not done learning.' Wilma has built up a large network within Fontys. 'We learn from each other. Why invent the wheel yourself if something beautiful already exists?'

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  • 31 juli
  • Wendbaar

Good leadership requires vulnerability

Janneke Gielisse wrote an essay on leadership for her master's degree at TIAS. In her opinion, what is good leadership and what does Fontys particularly need at the moment? And why is giving and receiving feedback so important in this respect?

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Auteur: TextVast