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“Innovative leadership requires courage and uncommitted work.”

“Innovative leadership requires courage and uncommitted work.”

To be successful as an organization and stay ahead of the competition, you sometimes need rebels: people who dare deviate from the norm, rules and “how we’ve always done it”. In his inaugural “Out of Control” address, Dr. Bas Koden discussed the importance of providing more space for independence, personal growth and employee well-being.

“Innovative leadership requires courage and uncommitted action when excessive organizational pressure and spurring control cause harm and prevent change,” said Kodden, who accepted the chair of leadership and management development at Nyenrode Business University in this opening lecture.

Lots of rules and procedures

Kodden: “In our organized society, it is often a question of control, rules, procedures, and regulations over people. The result of this is often a situation out of control due to endless deliberation or faltering discussions. Think, for example, of the question of the high-speed line or the issue of the allowance. Too many rules and procedures not only make institutions expensive and slow, but also limit professionals to deploy their talent and motivation. The way out of this and giving people back their energy is to break the rule that holds back change and innovation. This requires courage from leaders and organizations. In short: we need the rebels.”


In an organization with lots of controls and rules, there is little room for individuality, well-being, personal growth, and self-efficacy (the influence on your performance and actions). As a manager, how do you ensure a mindset that provides sustainable performance among employees and the organization? Previous research by Kodden showed that the personal attribute of self-efficacy is essential for sustainable performance. In recent years, during various studies, he has developed handles to strengthen the self-efficacy of the individual and the organization. “When a space is created for the individual’s interests and you dare to put that at the forefront of the team’s interests, you get motivated employees who perform better and also stay with you for longer. That is not a redundant luxury these days,” according to Cowden.

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controller in control?

If there is a group that seems to behave in compliance, they are controllers: they are accustomed to many rules, procedures, and regulations. This raises the question of whether they also need space for original and non-committal reflection and representation? Does this improve their performance? Kodden investigated this problem among five hundred Dutch observers. During his opening lecture, he shared the first findings: “The study shows, among other things, that nonconformity only makes sense if there is harm to the employees or the organization. Is everything going smoothly? Then there is no need to rebel. What always guarantees better results. More sustainable for both the organization and the employees themselves is the degree of problem-solving ability and originality. This is becoming more important for the observer, who not only has to master data but increasingly has to apply generic skills to properly perform the role as an advisor to managers.”

Through his chair, Kodden challenges students to give space to their rebellious side in an original, daring, and self-actualizing research. because: One life without limits! leave it!

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