Leadership Agility (Download Teaser!)

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About the book:

Leadership is about influencing others to move in a certain direction and there are many ways of achieving this influence. Each of these leadership styles has its inherent qualities and pitfalls, and will be more suited to specific people and different circumstances. The more leaders understand their preferred leadership styles and are able to flexibly switch to the most suitable style given the situation, the more effective they will be. This book maps out ten sets of opposite leadership styles, giving the reader the possibility to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and to identify his/her own current preference.

The ten leadership style dimensions cover the full range of leadership roles, from the leader as coach (inter-personal leadership), to the leader as organizer (organizational leadership), as strategist (strategic leadership), as sense-maker (leadership and purpose) and as role model (leadership and self).

Readers are invited to draw up their own leadership development plans, which is supported by an interactive App. Readers are also challenged to reflect on how they would approach a number of cases, after which they can go to an interactive web-forum to read how others have responded and engage in a discussion with them. Leadership Agility is a useful tool for practitioners in the corporate world as well as business students and emerging leaders.

Age of Agility-article

Meyer, R. & R. Meijers

Article, Age of Agility

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The New Learning Concept in Organizations

Rademakers M. (ed.) (2014)

Rather than a case, ‘The New Learning in Organizations’ is an opinion article by guest authors Mieke Posthumus and Pim Verheijen, who look at the evolution of learning in organizations – from inkpot to iPad. With the widespread use of digital technology, people and organizations are reacting faster to each other than ever before. Mieke and Pim suggest that the methods stemming from the time before the digital revolution are no longer suited to meet the needs of a world in which everything is connected along the digital highway. In that context, this opinion article explores the “New Learning” phenomenon in organizations. The term revolves around the connection of individual and organizational goals, individual responsibilities for learning and demonstrating results, plus deploying digital technology and social media as a means and not as a goal in itself. In their conclusion, the authors implicitly pose the question of who can and should determine what needs to be learned in a learning organization:

“Learning in organizations cannot and should no longer be seen as a centrally directed industrial process– including corporate universities of any sort or type. Working and learning by individuals in organizations are becoming increasingly intertwined entities, which drives decentralization of organizational learning.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

Waternet Academie and the Aquademie

Rademakers M. (2014)

The focus of this case is on cooperation between corporate universities. More in particular, the case describes the Waternet Academie (part of the Amsterdam water utility company) and the Aquademie (part of the De Dommel Water Board, a non-profit organization, and their views and insights on their inter-corporate university cooperation. The corporate universities work together to achieve economies of scale and other benefits that the (relatively small) organizations cannot achieve by themselves, due to their relatively small size. A joint insight of these corporate universities is that:

“Cooperation pays off ... Through scaling and combining knowledge and expertise, many possibilities arise to increase the quality and quantity of the corporate university activities.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

VolkerWessels Academy

Rademakers M. (2014)

The VolkerWesselsAcademy case shows how the corporate university played into the strategic challenges faced by VolkerWessels. VolkerWessels is an international construction company headquartered in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. The company consists of no fewer than 125 strongly autonomous subsidiaries that are active in various markets and countries. These often widely varied subsidiaries all have their own preferences when it comes to organizational learning. In line with the diversity of the company, the range of learning propositions offered by the VolkerWesselsAcademy is also very diverse. The corporate university is active in areas of strategic importance to VolkerWessels, such as corporate image in society, attracting young talents, inter-organizational cooperation, counteracting the “not invented here” syndrome, corporate social responsibility, leadership, and more. The issues are dealt with in employee training, management courses, and master classes for a selected group of talented managers. The theme across all of these corporate university activities is that they are the ‘binding agent’ for the organization as a whole. VolkerWessels has strategic priorities at the group level, on the one hand, and subsidiary-level priorities on the other hand that need to be linked. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the corporate university can rely on the necessary attention and commitment of VolkerWessels’ senior management. All the same, the challenge for the VolkerWesselsAcademy to excel every day is a tough one. One of the success factors for corporate universities that the VolkerWesselsAcademy propounds pertains to strategic focus:

“… it is important to retain your own strategic focus as a corporate university. The VolkerWesselsAcademy is always open to the learning needs of the subsidiaries, but does not grant every request these subsidiaries make. The subsidiaries can also arrange for learning programs and training courses externally; as these do not have the clear added value of bringing employees from various parts of the group together, they cannot be on the VolkerWesselsAcademy program.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

Corporate Learning Centre Rijkswaterstaat

Rademakers M. (2014)

Corporate universities can also be found in governmental organizations. Rijkswaterstaat is a key department of the Dutch Ministry of Natural Environment and Infrastructure. This department is leading in areas such as traffic management, and responsible for the construction and maintenance of the Dutch infrastructure including waterways, dykes, and roads. This case describes how the Corporate Learning Center (CLC) has grown into a corporate university with strategic impact. It has done so in a setting of continuous discussion and debate about the use and need for corporate learning. In the meantime, CLC engaged into custom-made corporate education. The strategic nature of the CLC is demonstrated by the role the corporate university plays in the alliance formation within the work field of Rijkswaterstaat. Alliance formation is very important for the department of the Ministry of Natural Environment and Infrastructure; according to Rijkswaterstaat, cooperation is an effective way to connect to the increasingly complex environment. Obtaining access to the expertise of other organizations, as opposed to a ‘lone ranger approach’ is seen as the only viable way to meet the challenges faced. With that in mind, the CLC proactively shapes corporate learning in cooperation with partner organizations of Rijkswaterstaat. In this way, a cooperation-based foundation is laid for new methods and corporate models for the organizations involved. For corporate universities to enhance their strategic impact the CLC points out that

“… it is crucial to be able to speak the management’s language. In reality, that means cutting loose from thinking and talking in educational terminology.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

DHV University

Rademakers M. (2014)

DHV University is the corporate university of the global consultancy and engineering agency DHV Group (currently merged into the Royal Haskoning DHV Group). The DHV University case shows how organizational learning can play a key role in exploring, shaping and – eventually –realizing strategy. DHV University has developed two management development programs: the EDP (Executive Development Program) at the corporate level, and the MDP (Management Development Program) at the business level. Management development and strategy formation go hand in hand, and the two programs are interconnected: Corporate strategy development in the EDP forms the framework for the business strategies developed in the MDPs. As a result, instead of slowing down due to the complex and worldwide presence of the organization, DHV has managed to enhance agility. The organization has increased its ability to adapt in both local and worldwide markets. It is safe to say that the (large) financial investments in the programs have been amply recovered, if only by the synergy benefits that were indentified and realized by the participants between the various businesses. Consequently, courage and leadership of the DHV Group’s senior management to follow this path of strategy formation and implementation are rewarded. The impact of the DHV University programs turned out to be even greater than expected by the company leaders:

“We are amazed by the growth this focused and interactive program has led to. MDP alumni have proven themselves to be leaders within the organization and have proactively utilized opportunities and initiatives that support the strategy.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

De Alliantie Academy

Rademakers M. (2014)

The parent organization of this corporate university is the Netherlands-based housing corporation “De Alliantie” (The Alliance), which houses approximately 130,000 people. De Alliantie was created through a merger of various housing corporations and, over a period of over 10 years, transformed itself from “De Alliantie 1.0” (a rather loose association of organizations) to a more integrated “De Alliantie 2.0” and then into a firmly integrated company, “De Alliantie 3.0”. De Alliantie Academy has been initiated by the Board of Directors of De Alliantie. The corporate university got assigned a modest role as a low-profile binding factor in a loosely coupled organization. The case describes how De Alliantie Academy soon had to expand its role, transforming into a corporate university with an annual budget of half a million Euros, and with the aim to drive further integration of the parent organization. The corporate strategy of De Alliantie still is to realize a tighter integrated, learning organization. With the help of ‘learning lines’ (function focused learning programs) developed in tune with the parent company strategy, the organization evolves into the desired direction. Among other things, the impact of learning consists of behavioral change, change of corporate processes, and leadership development. One of the insights of De Alliantie Academy that can be found in the case is that:

“A corporate university stimulates the company to translate abstract strategy into concrete learning goals. This can only be done on the condition that the corporate university has the position within the company to be accepted to do that, and also has the expertise to be able to make it work.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

The Knowledge and Learning Center

Rademakers M. (2014)

This case describes the emerging strategic role of the KLC (Knowledge and Learning Center) of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior’s IND (Immigration and Naturalization Department). It is shown how the KLC gradually increases its strategic impact on the parent organization. The authors explain how the corporate university started as a “company school” with elements such as a course catalogue, learn-and-work courses, and extra training courses and programs, and how it then built on these elements. At a certain point in time, the IND faced new challenges as it was pushed by players outside the organization to dramatically increase performance. The KLC was asked to fulfill a role of course provider to support the organization-wide program for performance enhancement. Apart from doing just that, KLC also started, step by step, to develop and run programs helping IND to implement strategic change. The case offers an example of an emergent corporate university strategy. Gradually and by “learning along the way,” the center of gravity of the KLC has shifted more and more towards being a driver of transformation. Apart from that, one of the insights that can be derived from the case is that:

“Senior management commitment plays a decisive role to gain commitment from participants in programs aimed at transformation through organizational learning.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning

Achmea Academy Life & Pensions

Rademakers M. (2014)

Achmea is an insurance corporation with cooperative roots, market leader in the Benelux and active in a range of European countries. Achmea Academy was established in 2006 by order of the Achmea Board of Directors, mainly to secure craftsmanship to retain the connection to an increasingly complex environment in the insurance business.

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Achmea defined craftsmanship as one the core qualities that contributes to its ambition of unburdening society with regard to financial services. Therefore, craftsmanship is also seen as a core value for trust. The case shows how the Achmea Academy Life & Pensions interprets the responsibility of securing craftsmanship within Achmea, and it also clarifies the core processes, learning concepts, and the curriculum of this corporate university. Initially, the corporate university’s target group was Achmea employees. Soon, however, members of the operating companies were added to the target group, as well as customers of the company, because the Achmea Board of Directors had expressed its ambition of increasing craftsmanship within the company’s entire operating sphere. This case in particular provides insights for corporate universities in large organizations with multiple players engaged in organizational learning:

“Achmea Academy Life & Pensions” main challenge has been to make its position clear with regard to other educational departments within the corporation.”

Keywords: strategy, corporate university, organizational learning