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10 mars 2023

Spaning av Sandra Schruijer, [i.o.h]:s nya kollega från Nederländerna.

Professor of Organization Science, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; Organizational Consultant, Professional Development International Ltd, The Netherlands.

What main trends do you see that will affect our society the most in the next 3 years?

Current society is faced with various serious issues, among which the climate crisis, war and conflict, migration, and, labour market shortages. While the covid pandemic loses its firm grip on society, a new one may emerge soon. In The Netherlands other pressing issues concern a serious housing shortage and a nitrogen crisis.

The tensions that these issues give rise to, result in (further) polarization - in terms of political preferences yet also in terms of wealth and well-being - and a destabilization of society. Many people feel (and are) excluded and do not belong, as a consequence of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, poverty or other factors.

What consequences will those factors have?

So as to deal with tensions, social defenses are likely to emerge (for example focusing on deliverables only, engaging in quick fixes, individualizing complex problems, blaming other parties or outsiders, or, avoiding internal tensions and looking away from problems). These defenses undermine the healthy development of relationships at work and in society, the social fabric.

Joint and concerted action is called for. Organizations need to engage in cross-organizational relationships and work with their interdependencies. Constructively dealing with diversity (interests, perspectives, identities), complexity and ambiguity, requires developing relationships between and among stakeholders. Essential is the willingness to share control, make compromises, engage in task conflict, explore the tensions that arise, ‘not know’ at times, and learn from the experiences.

What advice would you give a younger leader in your line of work?
  • Seek diversity in terms of demography, identity, interest ánd opinion.

  • Develop and engage in building relationships at work which is more than drinking coffee or the occasional beer.

  • Develop one’s self-knowledge; the more one understands oneself (cognitively, socially, emotionally, spiritually), the more one is able to understand the other, respect difference, and develop healthy relationships.

  • See oneself as part of the larger (social) system, develop systemic awareness and explore complexities.

  • Open up to what happening below the surface of social systems and help bringing it to awareness.

  • Engage in self- and joint reflection, to increase learning (rather than seeking blame through evaluating) and joint action.

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