Prof. dr. Han de Winde is Vice-dean and Professor of industrial biotechnology at Leiden University.
“In my job as vice-dean, I deal with different aspects of our university, from education and quality to administrative processes, organization, supervision, and finance. In this complex environment I work with different people and opinions. Sometimes it's difficult to find peace in the midst of all of it and to play the right role at the right time. I knew Aletta from the time when I worked at Delft University of Technology, and I decided to work with her. I wanted to think about my future career, and also wanted to take some concrete steps to improve my leadership skills.
The sessions with Aletta are an important place to find some rest and reflection. She asks edgy questions that reveal interesting insights. That can be confrontational, but it makes me very aware of my thoughts and behavior. Aletta and I get along well and there is mutual trust. Aletta is a very good listener so she always understands what my real questions and doubts are. As one example, I wanted to know how I can switch from coaching leadership to what she calls cutting leadership, meaning stepping into a more assertive role. When you have to make decisions or have to give bad news in a reorganization, it's important to be explicit, honest, and transparent while still remaining empathetic. The most important thing that I learned is to prepare thoroughly for such conversations. It might sound obvious, but in the hectic daily operations, I didn't take enough time to do that. Now I prepare a meeting and conversation if needed, and I immediately noticed a big difference; I'm now clearer and take the lead when necessary.
Some of my concrete questions are now answered, but I want to continue with the coaching sessions to think about my future, because it's important to not only work hard, but also to take the time for reflection. I think it's important to ask myself the question, ‘What is the purpose of my work and career, what is really important to me?’ In that search I can really use Aletta's help.”