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We met the leaders and got connected!

Fri 05 February 2010

, Alberta Opoku, Leap

“It was inspiring, bold, and thought-provoking”, observes one of the 150 LEAP-members who attended the Leadership event yesterday, 4 March, at the Philips Amsterdam headquarters. Hosted by Philips, the event was an overwhelming success. 

“When I first saw the programme I had some doubts. Come on, LEAP-women meeting and talking new leadership with 20 top executives? But now, walking to the auditorium and realising that we’re actually going to do this together makes me very excited. I can’t wait for the round table discussions,” Maaike says. 


Tap into that talent now! 

After a short welcome by Philips’ chief marketing officer Manon Janssen, Erica van Ooyen, founder and director of LEAP explained why Leap is setting the pace in the leadership debate. “When I moved back to Holland in 2001, I was shocked to see how issues like gender and diversity were treated in the Dutch corporate arena. We are far behind the rest of the world. The reality is: in the Netherlands there are about 900,000 women working in senior positions. And 60 percent of our academics are women. Within the next ten years that figure will rise to 70 percent. It’s about time we rethink our systems and unleash all that potential! How? By connecting to and communicating with the relevant stakeholders and co-creating new leadership for this new reality!”

Strengthening capabilities

Harry Hendriks, ceo of Philips Benelux, says his organisation is putting its money where its mouth is. “Currently 10 percent of our executives are female, we have two more years to reach our 2012 target of 15 percent. That said, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on gender, because rethinking our leadership is not about fixing a women’s issue. It is about strengthening the capabilities of an organisation and tapping from all the available potential,” he declares.

Rabble-rousing keynote speech

Josephine Green, former Senior Director Trends & Strategy at Philips Design and expert on Social Foresight and Innovation, gave a rabble-rousing keynote speech about leadership in the 21st century. The essence of her speech boils down to this: in the 20th century the world was organised in a pyramidal - top down, command and control - structure. However in the 21st century the world is complex and as flat as a pancake. 

‘Chaos and complexity’

“In the pyramid era the world was something we could predict and control. But that’s changed!  The new science now, chaos and complexity, shows us that the world isn’t at all predictable. That’s where nature comes in. Nature does something very clever. It has a few simple rules. From them emerge incredible complexities. Nature replicates continually and while it replicates it adapts. And that’s how complexities work. You cannot control them,” Josephine says. 


World café

After Josephine’s inciting and stimulating discourse, it was up to the Leap-women who attended the event to talk leadership. In world café scenery we debated together with 20 top executives from Leap’s Founding Partners what new leadership means to us. Some of the outcomes of the discussions were: * Acquire the freedom to unlock the passion and potential * It’s about allowing yourself and others to make mistakes. * Success shouldn’t be measured by how high you’ve climbed the corporate ladder, but about how many people climbed with you. * Being your authentic self. 

‘Open and inspiring’

Needless to say, the debate went on during and even well after the closing drinks. “This is the first time I’ve seen so many women exchange ideas with so many leaders at the same time in such an open, inspiring and stimulating way. I’ve been to LEAP events before, and this was the best I’ve attended so far. I hope we can keep the debate going,” Julia says.

Josephine Green discusses the pancake world here and women’s role in it here.

Coming soon…

Want to know what the executives have to say about new leadership and what qualities they think future leaders should have? We’ll have video postings from them very soon on