#Social partnerships  #Social impact  #Leadership

The power of empowering people

posted 08-10-2020

#HowTo: The power of empowering people
Our work goes beyond an average excel sheet. Transformation of beliefs, values and world views within an organisation is led by people. That’s why we focus on humans; the individuals who can realise long-term, sustainable change. Our programmes give individuals the skills and know-how to translate their mission into actions. We aim to increase the capacity of individuals with a mission, and organisations who want to make meaningful change irreversible.

We spoke to Betty van der Molen, Global Talent & Leadership Development Manager at FrieslandCampina, about our longstanding collaboration to design LEAP; why she chose to work with us; how this leadership programme helped her become a better leader; and what she hopes for the future.

What kind of leaders do you think are successful within FrieslandCampina?
In the past you had to be outgoing and extrovert in order to be successful. Now, we see that there’s more diversity amongst our leaders. Introverts and extroverts; creatives and non-creatives. We’re becoming an organisation that puts greater emphasis on personal growth and development. On leaders who realise and act upon playing a crucial role in the development and engagement of employees. This in close combination with performance.

How do you incorporate that belief in leadership programmes like LEAP?
We collaborated with Better Future to design a programme that’s driven by purpose and has a positive impact on society.  A programme that takes young potentials out of their comfort zone, close to home or far away; where they work together with a social partner, a mission-driven organisation.

During this week-long journey, the young potentials and social partner have an open exchange of information. Also known as two-way learning since they share their knowledge and expertise. Lessons learnt are put into practice. Allowing young potentials to experience this in a completely different and more challenging setting, makes it easier for them to continue putting it into practice back home.

What makes working with a social partner so effective?
In the short term you’re doing something good for society. Something good for someone else. It helps participants realise how important it is to contribute in a meaningful way. In the long term, it changes your mindset. It’s life-changing for some, even if the penny only drops several years later. It can only be that impactful if you’re somewhere other than you’re accustomed to. Where everything is outside your comfort zone.

Investing in experience-based programmes helps people grow. It helps them unlock their full potential. That’s exactly what LEAP does. It helps young potentials find their purpose and strengths. It challenges them to become better leaders, and better people in general. This experience opens up a whole new world for them. By helping them grow, our organisation grows too.

How does LEAP differ from any other leadership programme?
The experience gained by every individual, from FrieslandCampina and the social partner, stays with them forever. It’s something that is difficult to quantify because it’s a mindset change. You’re not solving problems on the surface, but you’re changing the beliefs and values of individuals which lie beneath the tip of the iceberg. They are confronted with how important it is to understand what drives others in order to convince them of their idea; how much easier it becomes to share their story once they have others on board; and how much energy it generates when working together. These elements are key to the mindset we want to see within FrieslandCampina. It makes them and our organisation far more impactful.

What exceeded your expectations and what do you think we could have done better?
The effect of going to a different country; of working with different kinds of people. Your ability to bring two groups together, to work collectively on a challenge. That’s unique. What has been improved over the years is the structure of the programme. You’re a group of extremely creative and talented individuals who sometimes get carried away by your own drive and passion. And this can cause the programme to lose its structure. The feedback from the past two years confirms that that’s improving, and I think the co-facilitation between Better Future and FrieslandCampina plays an important role. We can embed the needs and goals of our organisation, whilst Better Future focusses on their mission to create meaningful learning experiences which have positive impact within organisations and on the world around them.  

How did this programme help you become a better leader?
A shift in mindset. I’m in a state of gratefulness. Even though I forgot 99% of what happened during the programme, that 1% is so powerful. I’m more aware of my humbleness; I feel more inspired when helping others find their way. Reflection plays such an important role in the programme that you become hyperaware of your own strengths and areas of improvement. It ignited an energy in me to become a better leader. The 1% of this programme is far more effective than the 1% of any other programme.

We’ve run this programme for six consecutive years, why is that important?
It has long lasting impact on the organisation. If you join a leadership programme on your own, it’s difficult to translate the lessons learnt into normal life. If you go as a group, and the programme recurs each year, then that group will continue to grow. Meaning the lessons learnt, the experience and the mindset will infiltrate the organisation. It becomes a movement; an effective way to transform the beliefs and values of an organisation. It’s a gradual process because it’s not a quick fix. It has lasting impact which is essential for sustainable change. I hope that in the future we’ll have fewer leadership programmes; that the ones we offer are as impactful as LEAP; and that we offer these types of programmes to a larger group of people.  

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