“Where people work together they will influence each other”
People influence each other by working in an organization and by living in a society. As a child, a pupil, a student, or an adult, you learn this gradually and effortlessly as you grow older. In interactions between people, some will take the lead while others are more likely to follow. You see the same thing happening in specific fields and spheres of life. The central observation here is that we all – as participants in an organization and a society – do both alternately: sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow.
“Becoming aware of the way you influence others”
Connected Leading, Connecting to Advance Society aims to help all staff of Tilburg University to become aware of the influence they have on each other, on students, on people outside the university, and on society as a whole. That is why ‘becoming aware of the way you influence others’ is the primary focus of the Connected Leading project. This means that we assume that all of us both lead and follow, whether or not this takes place in a formal leadership setting. The Connected Leading project hopes to enable participants to deploy their influence more consciously.
“Becoming aware starts by listening”
Key to the process of becoming more aware of the influence you have on the people around you is to create a culture in which people are willing to listen to each other and to tell each other honestly how they feel about things. We call this dialogue and feedback. One of the characteristics of a dialogue is that you learn to suspend and hold back on too quickly voicing opinions, thoughts or feelings, in order to better understand the other person. We want to help everyone at Tilburg University to engage in this way with others to acquire a better (and more realistic) understanding of the influence we have on each other. This can be fun to work on, but will sometimes also be challenging, because we are used to reacting immediately. Suspending one’s immediate reaction is an important - as well as an academic - characteristic of the culture we aspire to: the ability to consciously suspend your judgment and to give others your critical opinion.
“Becoming aware of different aspects of your behavior”
We distinguish three different aspects in the process of building awareness.
1. Purpose: What do you stand for in your work/in your life?
We call this your purpose. Part of this higher purpose is that you feel you can make a meaningful contribution in your work, and that you can be a role model for others. Feeling that you believe in, take pride in, and take responsibility for what you do: acting in the interest of your colleagues in your working environment, talking about how you view your work. This also includes (personal and academic) integrity, reliability, and working for the benefit of the greater whole. Connecting to what matters to oneself is the core element of this, consciously connecting to self.
2. Dealing with other people: how do you relate to others within the Tilburg University organization?
This aspect is about how you work together with others, in teams, across teams, within Schools, and beyond the boundaries of the Schools. Consciously connecting with self and others is key here. Are you contributing to other people’s development, from a place of purpose? If a mentor, how do you go about fulfilling that role? Can you and dare you be ‘yourself’ when interacting with others? Do you dare to be authentic in the things you do, even if this does not always square with what is generally felt and done? Are you contributing to the development of the team? There are many aspects, contexts, and faces to the way in which you relate to others in the organization. Connecting to others is the core element in all of this, consciously connecting to others.
3. Organization: How do you act within the Tilburg University organization?
Our aim is to become aware of the fact that all aspects of our actions and interaction with others also impinge on the organization as a whole. This applies across the board, from the rector to the doorman, regardless of the level of your position in the organization. Are you aware of your responsibilities and is it apparent to others that you act accordingly? Are you aware of how, together with others, you are leading processes and projects in the organization? Are you making space for change, if this is necessary and desirable, or are you sticking firmly to established routines and ‘the way things have always been done’? Is your commitment also visible to others? Connecting to the whole system is the core element in all of this, consciously connecting to the system.
“What is the ultimate result of this Connected Leading project?”
Three aspects can be distinguished in the Connected Leading project. These are:
- Everybody gets the opportunity to work on building this awareness: In your position within the organization, and within your own context. This means that with the help of a variety of instruments and interviews you are encouraged to further develop this self-awareness. Examples of these include a reflection questionnaire that helps you map your own development goals, an extensive catalog of training courses, books, TEDx Talks, and suggestions for learning in the workplace.
- In the executive teams, all efforts focus on creating a culture characterized by open dialogue and sincere feedback. Teams are supported in this through team sessions.
- In the organization as a whole, awareness building and cooperation are anchored in the teams. We map out how executive positions can best be organized by learning from best practices within the organization.
By stimulating us to learn from each other, the ‘Connected Leading’ process can contribute to enhancing awareness building, and learning and developing in the context of Tilburg University, a place where most of us spend a great deal of time.
In fall 2018 we will launch an online reflection questionnaire based on the elements of the Connected Leading. Based on this reflection questionnaire you will receive feedback about your strengths and opportunities; it is the intention that you enter into a dialogue with your direct supervisor about the results of the reflection tool. Together you can discuss and decide what you want to develop and how to do this. An online library with blended development offerings will support you to develop yourself as a Connected Leader. The library contains e.g., articles, TED-talks, books, and short movies about various themes, all related to personal leadership development. To build the library, we want to share the knowledge that’s already available in our university. After all, there is so much knowledge available already, together we know so much, and it would be a missed opportunity not using it. Therefore we ask your help: would you share your knowledge about personal leadership development with us? Register for one of our co creation sessions now.
For leading others and leading leaders
We are developing a development program for e.g. (future) heads of departments in Schools / Divisions to support the career transition to become a Connected Leader who shapes the team culture. With this program our (future) leaders can develop themselves and support their team development. The program will be available in fall 2018.
We are developing a development program for e.g. (future) deans, vice deans, heads of divisions to support the career transition to become a Connected Leader who shapes the culture of teams and the organization as a whole. With this program our (future) leaders can develop themselves and support the development of TiU as organization. The program will be available in spring 2019.
Integral Leadership teams and Collaboration teams (like e.g. CvB, School MTs & Heads of Depts, Division MTs, OCD, School Directors & Heads of Divisions) will be supported in their growth as Connected Leading teams. Team effectiveness, collaboration and trust building are key. The team sessions will start from fall 2018 and will continue in 2019.