We zijn aangenaam verrast door onze Stagiair Christopher Frattina della Frattina. Hier deelt hij zijn ervaringen bij Authentiek Leiderschap.

Lead Leadership

I was relatively anxious on the first day of my internship. Entering the unchartered and unfamiliar territory of leadership consultancy, I didn’t know what to expect. Immediately, during my first meeting, I met the CEO, Bas Blekkingh. “Dream big” was among the first words Bas said to me. Indeed, Authentiek Leiderschap does dream big. The phrase, “From Holland to Vladivostok” is commonplace, illustrating Authentiek Leiderschap’s unquenchable desire to preach their philosophy to the world. Over time, after witnessing first-hand the work ethic, passion and sheer determination all Authentiek Leiderschap’s coaches have, it becomes increasingly likely, in my eyes at least, that they will, indeed, reach Vladivostok!

Authentiek Leiderschap is a conglomerate of companies. Each individual coach has their own company while representing Authentiek Leiderschap. This form of collective entrepreneurship allows coaches to be responsible and accountable for their respective companies, whilst being flag bearers of the Authentiek Leiderschap philosophy, of which there are three core values. The first is very Dutch. Renowned for their direct and No Nonsense approach, Authentiek Leiderschap tell it how they see it, preferring blunt honesty over beating around the bush. The second is their main driver for consultancy. Ultimately, they believe that everyone has strong positive internal values. That there is good in people regardless of what they’ve been through. Authentiek Leiderschap firmly believes that they can uncover these positive values and help leaders better understand how they can align these values with reaching their personal goals. The third core value is DIY (do it yourself). In the Authentiek Leiderschap working environment, delay is death, making hard work and striving for the best a must for both consultants and their clients alike.

Authentiek Leiderschap focuses on those in the top tier of the business hierarchy. Authentic Leadership is commonly misunderstood as being something very complex and difficult to understand, begging the question: “What is authentic leadership?” Well, in short, it is discovering and living your mission. It challenges leaders to ask themselves “what makes you tick?”. It is gaining self-awareness and using this for leaders to achieve what they want in life. Shakespeare’s adage “Know thyself and to thine self be true” has never been more pronounced. By giving language to problems and emotions (examples of their own terms include allergies, egos, negative-self-fulfilling-prophecies, blocking patterns) and referring these emotions to behaviour, Authentiek Leiderschap teaches leaders to become people of value, not people of success. This is because certain behaviour has certain revenue and the best revenue is happiness which is grown from authenticity. When you start with Authentiek Leiderschap the seeds of sustainable success and happiness are already sown. This is done by helping define a leader’s strengths and weaknesses. Using the analogy of a house, Authentiek Leiderschap doesn’t tell leaders which design is best, but they help leaders polish their skills and give them the tools to decide for themselves, thus differing from mainstream leadership consultancy in that there is a clear emphasis on the “what?”, not the “how?”. Authentiek Leiderschap has honed and cultured their approach in such a way that they have left no stone unturned. Their system and philosophy is simple yet effective. It is logical and valuable. With a reputation of excellence and of maintaining a high standard, Authentiek Leiderschap rarely fails in getting the job done. When the desired result eludes them, it is usually because of leaders unwilling to commit and open themselves up completely to the program.

During my short tenure at Authentiek Leiderschap I was kept very busy! Keeping in line with their philosophy, they ensured that what I would do would benefit me (in terms of experience) and would be part of what I think I want to do with my life. Having grown up in Sudan, I feel the need to give back something of value to the Sudanese people whose dire situation desperately needs addressing. Combining his goal of reaching Vladivostok and mine of giving back to Sudan, Bas decided that I should write a business plan to open an Authentiek Leiderschap company in Sudan. The goal of this firm would be to help eradicate corruption in the Sudanese leadership so that those at the lower levels of society and the business hierarchy are also positively affected. This would also provide a good opportunity for Bas to see whether Authentiek Leiderschap’s philosophy could successfully cross transcultural boundaries.

Throughout this process my understanding of the business world has grown vastly. I have learnt about funding, market entry and strategy, establishing a strong basis for clients, active reference and various other things. This business plan may also act as a brief outline should I seek to do something akin to it in the future. Interviewing the coaches and being “taught” the Authentiek Leiderschap’s philosophy by both Bas and my supervisor, Monique Verhoeven, I was able to better understand the inductive approach (the translation of practice into theory) upon which it is based.  What struck me is that this philosophy is not only a leadership philosophy but can be applied to various different aspects of life, basically highlighting how we interact with others.

The philosophy uses an intricate system of identifying what we feel and why we feel a certain way. First and foremost, we have two drivers: fear and creation. The former is a reactive measure to when we feel our position as leader is insecure. The latter is when we strive to create things that are in line with our principles. Using Bas’ seven layers, they help identify which driver we use in relation to the different layers. The first layer, the environment, highlights how we perceive the environment we are in and how we react to it. It influences us because we choose what we see in the environment. Authentiek Leiderschap teaches leaders to view the environment more holistically, and to remove observational bias. The second layer, behaviour, is how we react to the environment. In tense environments, we can either complain, address the problem, leave the environment, or do absolutely nothing. Each action has its pros and its cons. There is no right answer. Our actions thus depend on the drivers, on our motives. If we further understand our motives then we will better understand why we behave in a certain manner. The third layer, the skill level, focuses on the “how to?”. Not only does it define the main overarching problems in the environment, but it also addresses the problem at the appropriate level: Authentiek Leiderschap does not delve too far into the human psyche- that being left for psychologists- but instead tackles the problem at the right level. The fourth layer hones in on norms. According to Authentiek Leiderschap, norms and principles are synonymous in some respects; however, a norm is merely an action that depicts a value. There are two types of norms: blocking and stimulating. Blocking norms keep you within your comfort zone and are usually based on your ego. Stimulating norms get you out of your comfort zone and result in personal growth. They are more value and mission driven. Ego is the fifth layer. Our egos are how we position ourselves in relation to others, which is done so because leaders want others to recognize their status as such. This is mainly done because of fear; fear that our position as leaders is not considered meaningful to those we lead. In unsafe environments we start to use our negative self-fulfilling prophecy, which is when our egos are overdone and actually undermine our position. Egos should be used but not be overdone because they hide our authenticity. The sixth layer, focuses on what we believe is right and what we value in an organisation. Authenticity is the seventh layer. Authenticity is different to Ego in that authenticity allows us to pursue our goals in line with our values without using our Ego. By being more authentic we are able to accomplish our mission. Our meaning in life. We become happier and more successful in the long term.

From having regular coffee breaks and mingling with many of the coaches, to driving to Arnhem with the CEO in his convertible, my internship has been an unforgettable and valuable experience. Whilst taking me under their wing, Authentiek Leiderschap really welcomed me and made me feel at home. Authentiek Leiderschap truly offers something different- something authentic.