We last checked in with Hans Augusteijn on the progress of his leadership coaching journey back in 2018. A lot has happened with him since then in terms of his career progression. He has been moving on and moving up. After 17 years with Maersk he has a new role in a new organisation. Hans is now Chief Strategy Officer with Stolt Tankers in Rotterdam.
I have worked with Hans since 2012. In this interview I asked him to reflect on the top 10 themes that have dominated his recent leadership coaching journey.
Hans Augusteijn, Chief Strategy Officer with Stolt Tankers in Rotterdam, reflects on the top 10 themes that have dominated his recent leadership coaching journey.
THEME 1: Reflection
Trevor: “You had a 17 year career Maersk. You have now been CSO with Stlot Tankers for one and a half years. What are your main learnings?”
Hans: “I’ve moved on from being a transportation enthusiast to a leader who helps people perform and the business to transform. When it comes to selecting people I look for those who play to win – I’ll take ‘will’ over ‘skill’ any day. I’ve learnt how important it is to coach your people to take ownership so they can do things faster and better. I have also learnt how important it is to stay curious, to be customer focused and to challenge the status quo – and I do it all through coaching others.”
THEME 2: Moving On
Trevor: “What were the factors behind your decision to move on from Maersk?”
Hans: “A reorganisation happening at the time my wife got a great work opportunity and we decided we wanted to stay in the Netherlands. Previously the next roles in Maersk would come in fast succession. But at this stage the next role was unclear. I felt my future development was around being part of a leadership team and learning more on items such as digital, sustainability and more senior investor decisions. So for the first time I used my network to see what else was out there.”
Trevor: “Give our readers the confidence they will know when the time is right to move on and to JDI (just do it)”.
Hans: “Make sure you know what you aspire to do, and have a list of what the key learnings are you have ahead of you. If an opportunity comes along, and you have reflected on it (with the help of your network), just jump on it! That’s what I did.”
THEME 3: Change
Trevor: In our coaching sessions Hans and I had talked a lot about the subject of Change. We explored his Professional Journey, his Personal Journey and his Delivery Journey. And how he was using this type of tool / concept to move forward with positivity in his career. “After one and a half years into your new Stolt career, what are your reflections on your approach to change management? What have you learnt about handling a change in organisational culture (from Maersk to Stolt)?”
Hans: “Two learnings. First learning: Culture eats strategy for breakfast – my biggest learning is how you create excitement for making the business better while leveraging the strengths that got the company there. That was the case in Maersk, but even more so in Stolt – how do you make sure people feel excited about that transformation. Second learning: Eventually it does come down to a clear and well-articulated plan and clear metrics – and staying focused on what moves the needle.”
Trevor: “What are your criteria for selection and promotion, and how do you help people discover their energisers?”
Hans: “Focus on the people who play to win – get your ‘First Follower’. You may face a team that has very good skill but lacks energy and a will to win. It’s hard, but it means you need to supplement that with talent. Give people a try who are hungry, support them to make the transition but give them the space so they can spread their wings. And for some roles, if you don’t have the internal talent, hire the best in the market. Having this combination of internal and external talent coming in will create this positive wave in the organisation and create the First Follower Effect.”
Trevor: “Change means building a new start-up team: what do you bring to the party; what attributes do you expect from others?”
Hans: “I have to bring that servant leadership to the party. Making people feel at home and making sure they can shine. What is tough in a team with high performers is to make it a high performing team – this is clearly something I, as result driven leader, need to invest time in – connecting these high performers.”
THEME 4: Network
Trevor: “You’ve spoken previously about the value of your network and how this is a two way street. How has your network served you in recent changes? What are your ambitions for your network in the future?”
Hans: “I put more effort into maintaining my network. I get inspiration talking to those people I am in contact with; but I do select them quite carefully. Two things run as a red thread through this: who are the people you would start your own company with, and how do they push me to get better. The ones that tick those two boxes I stay in regular touch with – and it is a varied group”.
THEME 5: New Leadership Skills (Moving Up)
Trevor: Three years ago at a delightful dinner with Hans at Café Stobbe Rotterdam, he posed the question: ‘Now that I am so far into the journey; what’s the next big learning on leadership skills?’ It made for a good and lively discussion that evening. “So my question to Hans three years on is what have you discovered about the next big learning on leadership skills? Especially about ‘Moving Up’ – what has changed for you with a more senior leadership role?”
Hans: “That when you get more senior, coaching my team, role-modelling the strategy and taking a positive view of the market and investors matter more. That’s really where the balance start to swing and you have to remind yourself that that’s actually your role. As I mentioned before, we need to create a winning team. So that’s where I have spent time, complementing functional experience I missed in the team, with personal attributes that determine a strong will to win. So if you wanna do digital, or continuous improvements, or do an IPO – get people in who are the best at it but do check their inner will and team play attributes”.
THEME 6: New Team
Trevor: “You’ve had two new teams in rapid succession: Maersk Delivery and Stolt Strategy, Digital and Sustainability. What has been your approach to Team Development? What have been your key leadership learnings? On one hand how do you avoid expert silos forming? On the other hand, how do you build a cohesive team of experts that respect, value and stimulate each other towards ‘faster & better’?”
Hans: “First and foremost it’s about getting the absolute best people in – but ‘will’ always trumps ‘skill’. Secondly hierarchy is overrated – you have to be able to lead through the matrix and generate impact without authority. To do both you have to make people feel that they want to be part of this – the function you represent needs to have a great vibe to get people to come along. Faster & Better is exactly the task that is at hand – and it has not been easy with Covid. It means coaching on development for many, where they can learn from each other. It also means giving ownership in the team to drive the agenda for the overall team and me doing less leading and more facilitating. We have the plan and the team in place, so this is exactly what I need to focus on now”.
THEME 7: Remote Working
Trevor: “What are the pros and cons as a business leader of the remote working and travel restrictions we have all experienced during the Covid lockdowns? Also, please comment on how you use your coaching walks in the park to keep connected”.
Hans: “The pros are that we have done away with the strange need to travel for so many things and we can balance better work and life. The downside clearly is the connection to people, customers and markets. I would be on site a lot in previous roles and be able to connect and sense the vibe – it’s much harder now. The essence is that in a post corona time we will land in the middle, and that’s the right spot. I have found that my coaching is actually much more effective – I build better rapport with my team when I am taking them for a stroll in the park. I can see the difference between the ones where I can really take focus time and go for a stroll and then do the coaching, versus the ones I can only coach at a distance”.
THEME 8: New Approaches to Coaching
Trevor: “Coaching for performance, coaching for development, coaching for role transition, coaching for potential (talent) and coaching teams. What are your best approaches and applications of the various coaching disciplines?”
Hans: “There are three things I need to work more on:
- Coaching one to many – How I can be a facilitator for the change we have across Stolt;
- Role modelling – The way I act and behave is so important to get that real change;
- Coaching for potential – We are all very task focused. Use the ‘magic wand’ question, make sure people think big and set stretched goals to develop”.
THEME 9: Coaching Tools
Trevor: “You have the GROW coaching model to work with and a whole Coaches Toolkit. What has become most important to you in your coaching practice?”
Hans: “The key two tools for me to work on are the active listening and keeping the responsibility for the W (way forward) with the coachee – both sound easy, but are for me quite challenging”.
THEME 10: Any Other Business
Trevor: “What else? Other comments you would like to add into this interview?”
Hans: “This interview is actually a coaching session in itself – so I am lucky to be interviewed, and would encourage also others to do something similar as it helps you to reflect on your learning journey and get the Way-forward more crystallised. I never thought I would say this, but I do love being a coach more than being a ‘decider’. It helps me to have changed companies to see how incredibly important and valuable coaching is”.
Go to the Coaches Toolkit (subscribers only – it’s free to subscribe) for information about GROW, the core coaching tools and laser coaching.
The original July 2016 article: Leadership Interview: Hans Augusteijn ‘My Coaching Journey’
The December 2018 article Leadership Interview: Hans Augusteijn ‘My Continuing Coaching Journey’
As a footnote, I just didn’t realise there was a whole ‘industry’ around walking coaching. These are all UK based people offering walking coaching. I’m not endorsing them, just pointing you towards their services. Google ‘walking coaching’ for providers in your territory. Anna-Marie Watson RFM Coaching & ICF. Andrew Leigh Pathways. Anise Bullimore Walk Coach Learn. Sandra Cunningham Walking Coach. Tina McGrath Cornwall Coaching.