Workshop: The Leadership Journey

From the website of Insights Benelux:

In the spotlight: leadership expert Sonja Wekema.

Sonja is active in the field of cultural transformation and leadership development, particularly within international organisations. Alongside her colleague Marjon Margés, she co-authored the book 'The Leadership Journey,' which serves as a guide for (intercultural) leadership programs. Their approach provides leaders with a contemporary perspective on leadership, supporting them in successfully and sustainably leading a changing organisation. On March 12th, Sonja will be conducting a workshop.

How did The Leadership Journey come about?

Sonja: ‘The book originated from a cultural transformation project that Marjon and I developed with Kubota, a large international company in agritech. We wrote it to mark the fifth anniversary of our Leadership Essentials program and later re-released it to share it with a broader audience. This way, others can also benefit and draw inspiration from it. At Kubota, we started with delivering monthly two-day sessions for leaders from across Europe in 2018, using Insights to create a common language and help participants become more effective as individuals and leaders.

Over the past five years, 350 leaders have participated in Leadership Essentials I. After a year, we designed Leadership Essentials II, focusing on working in an international matrix organization and stakeholder management. We introduced additional models, always making a connection to the Insights color language, based on the theory of Dr. Carl Jung. The program has since expanded with a focus on sustainability and mergers and acquisitions: how does an organisation and an individual take responsibility for their actions to make a positive impact? We are now in the sixth year, continually linking to the results of the employee engagement survey and strategic objectives.’

What was/is crucial for the success of this program?

‘It is essential that the Leadership Essentials program is developed in collaboration with the organisation. Together with the leaders, we created a learning path – with a common language and a toolkit for effective leadership – that has truly become part of the corporate culture. We always connect it to the business and annual leadership goals. Before each new session, we explore the current developments in the organisation to understand what stands out for the participants of that day. So far, about 350 people with 16 different nationalities have gone through our leadership programme. Each participant experiences the journey in their own way. We ask each group for feedback, continuously improving the program. We also regularly evaluate with the organisation: what works and what doesn’t? It has become a dynamic program.’

Your path to successful leadership, what does it look like?

‘To be a successful leader, it’s important to start with self-awareness: who are you as a leader, and what do you want to achieve? Besides our own experiences as senior leaders in multinationals, we use a combination of selected tools to quickly and effectively make participants look and work in a common way. This includes Insights, but also our developed ‘hourglass model,’ helping people (individually or with their team) reflect on the context in which they live and work, their strengths and weaknesses, and the impact they can make. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, and who you want to be makes it easier to focus on the things where you can truly make a difference. Making time for self-reflection is a crucial part of The Leadership Journey. Other key components include coaching leadership (asking questions and truly listening), the importance of networking, intercultural leadership, psychological safety, and the importance of personal and team responsibility. During our annual evaluations, these are the points participants express a need for.’

What do leaders need in the future?

‘As a leader, it’s important to realise that the world is constantly changing. How leaders relate to this is a central topic in the third phase of our Leadership Essentials program. It focuses on translating the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into the leadership skills of the future. As Hub Lead, we use the Inner Development Goals (IDGs), linking them to the topics introduced in the earlier phase of the program. By directly connecting these elements to business case studies, participants can apply what they’ve learned the next day.’

What can participants expect from the workshop on March 12th?

‘During the workshop, I will explain the creation of The Leadership Journey through real case studies. What does it involve, what are the results, and how do you design such a program? But we will also reflect on everyone’s individual leadership journey: how did you get to where you are now, and where do you want to go? Additionally, I am very curious about the participants’ experiences with cultural transformation and leadership programs. It would be great if we could learn from each other.’

>> Sign up for Sonja Wekema’s workshop (in Dutch).