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Why you should sail against the wind now

Sailing against the wind

Jan Rotmans, professor of Transitology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, was last week's guest at Talk of the Town where he talked about leadership in times of crisis. According to him, many large companies in the Netherlands are making the same mistake again in this crisis: they are applying the brakes instead of seizing the corona crisis to change now.

Same mistake: need to change now

Jan: "I see many large companies making the same mistake again. They put on the brakes and say: first reorganize and then change. But that is short term survival. If you want to survive in the long term, you have to change now. You have to do both: maintain the existing and renew. If you don't do that, you show that you don't really have a healthy business model'.

Rotmans, who from his chair of Transitions at the EUR has for many years advocated "tilting" society toward a more sustainable system, sees few real leaders leading by example in the current crisis. According to him, another common mistake in times of crisis is to look only upwards. 'Good leadership can be found everywhere, in companies and organizations at all levels. Anyone can show good leadership. Connective leadership is needed, to connect the old with the new. But authentic leadership is also needed, with courage to face the storm. But the reflex of many people in times of crisis is to look up and wait for a decision from an executive, often the chief executive. Or they use the company's decision to stop spending money as an excuse. Good leadership, however, means being a little recalcitrant. Daring to row against the wind. Doing that which others don't expect. That is good leadership, but I see relatively little of that in the Netherlands.'

Do you dare to change course a little or completely during these turbulent times?