Leadership lessons from a Barcelona retreat

The best in leadership

When you work with tibor.nl, you have the pleasure to work with the best. At our recent Mankracht retreat in Barcelona, I worked with Gert Hein de Heer. Gert Hein was the youngest CEO of a publicly listed company in Holland and has lead companies such as Holland Colours, Boots&Woods and Monuta.


He did a masterclass on leadership. Here are some of the things he shared:

  1. Having a belly ache is a good thing when you have to make important decisions. It means that you are outside your comfort zone. Without pain, there is no gain. Without friction, it is impossible to be your best.
  2. Leadership is about two things: business models and people.
  3. The boss is the metronome of the business. His or her behaviour is what sets the tone. It is more about what you do and show than about what you say.
  4. You need to be OK with people thinking you are a d.ck. You need to make the hard decisions, and sometimes that is painful for the staff. That also means that you should not get too close or friendly with your staff. Keep your distance. For example, getting drunk with your staff is a bad, bad idea and a bad example.
  5. It is lonely at the top. You are end responsible. All the shit eventually ends up on your desk. You make the last call, which is a big responsibility. The buck stops with you. If you have not been there, it is difficult to understand how that feels.
  6. You need a buddy. Find someone within the company you can trust and confide with. However, never forget who is the boss (that is you).
  7. The power of quick decisions. Clock speed in a company is crucial. Speed before complete accuracy. Procrastination kills companies and culture. Again, your behaviour (and your speed of decision making) sets the tone of the company.
  8. Keep on asking until you understand. There is a lot of bullshit out there. Recognise that you can’t know it all, but make sure you ask the questions until you get it. It helps you with making the right decisions, but it also forces your staff to think things through.
  9. In meetings, let everyone speak, before you do. Let people express themselves and only chip in at the end. That is to avoid parrots and avoids the Hippo syndrome.
  10. Support your leaders. Do not interfere with the role of your appointed leaders. Let them do their job, or if you are not happy, fire them. Do not get involved yourself.
  11. Do not focus on the breakers. Of every 10 people in the company, 2 people pull the car, 6 are on the car, and 2 are trying to put on the brakes. It is a law of nature. Too much time and energy in organisations is wasted on the breakers. They have a function, which is warning us of all the dangers. Accept it. The same law applies to customers.
  12. Not every staff member can be brilliant, can be entrepreneurial, or strategic. If you only had these type of people in your organisation, it would become chaos. Execution is everything. Keep a balance in your team.
  13. The words you use are important. Do you use “staff” or “employee” or “colleague” or “business partner”? It says everything about how you think about your people.
  14. People want trust and confidence. They work for you, not for a company. Give them the space to express themselves. You will get it back in spades. Ignore the 20% of assholes that are in every company.
  15. Let people participate in your company. Make them a shareholder, owner or business partner in the venture. It gets people much more involved. The % of ownership is almost immaterial. It is the thought that counts. See 13.
  16. Risk avoidance will kill your company in the end. The only way is forward. Defensive strategies do not work (remember the Roman Empire). Cherish the risk takers In your company. Remember no pain (risk), no gain (profit).
  17. When you are gone as CEO, you are gone. Don’t hang around. Don’t become an advisor, board member, don’t go to the business receptions and parties after you resigned. You are getting in the way of the new CEO. Give him or her the space.
  18. Having a vision is important. You need to have a destination and a path. Without that, you are a headless chicken. Spend some time developing that vision. It informs everything else you do. First, the essence, then the daily grind.
  19. Less is more. You need to be to explain to your mother what you do and where you are going needs in 3 sentences. Gert Hein uses the example of the strategy for Monuta (a funeral insurance business) in 4 words; digitisation, privatisation, puberty and pioneering).
  20. Look ahead, but not too far. A 1000 days is far enough, to still keep it concrete as well as forces you to think about the future and work on the business instead of in (the number one mistake of 90% of all companies). A 1000 days can easily be split in 10 hundred day plans.
  21. Make things as concrete as possible. Use real examples. Make it as visual or physical as possible, so people can touch, feel, smell. Too much abstraction makes selling inside and outside an organisation very difficult. Apply KISS.
  22. Keep on smiling. Having fun and having a laugh helps when you want to sell. Humour end being genuine transcends even language barriers.
  23. Work on building relationships. For example, pay your suppliers on time or even before that. Build loyalty in your ecosystem.

Gert Hein brought it back to some very universal principles. If you stick to the above, you will be doing OK. It is also an example of the quality of what tibor.nl has to offer.

Recipe for success

At the retreat, we move from 1000 days to 100 days in 5 days, creating clarity, better business models, clearer positioning and execution. Combine that with mindset and physical training by elite special forces trainers and coaches, and you have a cocktail for success. Don’t take my word for it. Here are the reviews tiny.cc/zxwz6y

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Why reinvent the wheel and why not learn from the best business thinkers? And why not use that as a platform to make better business decisions? Alone or as a team.

Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

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Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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