Hans Augusteijn: What are the Top 10 themes as his career moves onwards and upwards?
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.
Nothing brings me more of a sense of accomplishment than looking at one of our blue vessels sail out of Cape Town Terminal just in time before the storm comes. It just feels right!
I am a proud Panamanian. We are happy people that generally like to have a good time. We usually tend to disconnect from our reality by partying over the weekend. We are in essence, positive by nature. Recently, Panama qualified for their first FIFA World Cup. Our performance during this tournament was more than disappointing, but we were the happiest fans in Russia! Other countries lost in the semi-finals and it was considered a national tragedy. This Panamanian way will definitely make our lives more enjoyable but won’t create radical changes needed to take us out of a third world mindset and stop the corruption cycle that has been the trademark of our governments going back decades.
It is somewhat disquieting to read that the “Peter principle”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle, continues to thrive in UK business. Our poor productivity performance arises because too many people gain promotion into managerial roles beyond their level of natural competence. However, in the firm featured in the FT article performance is improving.
It strikes me, however, that simply hanging up figures of Superman (is this unconscious bias by the firm’s leaders?), and doling out pork pies are rather superficial practices. The only likely outcome of this epicurean approach is hardened arteries.
Include yourself in every win and loss and take time to have fun and laugh about your mistakes. They are a gift that life gives you.
Over the last 2 years, I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to lead an operational execution team and we have managed to put together a group of fine professionals. They combine knowledge and experience but also curiosity for improvement and a hunger for growth. It has reached a point where we need to stop and look around and reflect. The conclusion I have reached is that we dedicate ourselves to execute plans that are being handed to us… right? More reflection is needed to find the real purpose: We hold in our hands the service delivery promise to our clients. Suddenly a job with no apparent complexity has become one with the highest possible stakes.
I (all of us) have seen people missing opportunities and I concede, looking back, I may have missed a few too. And why we see it? Because we are watching or looking from a different angle. Like on the Indian-mythology, we often fail to recognize them because we cannot see it. Sometimes they come disguised of something like hard work, as a tedious job (those nobody wants to do), sometimes our own attitude and you name it.
Last week I met a good friend who used to be my direct report. He recently got promoted as general manager and has always been a great sparring buddy. Besides the fact that I feel extremely proud to see him growing and pleased to be part of it, I also find our talks and engagement inspiring myself as he always add something to the conversations which makes me grow too.
Among different things we spoke about, reminiscing about the time we worked together, the adversities we had – how we surmounted them as well as his/our current challenges, we also spoke about long term ambition and discussed ‘why some people get ahead on their careers and others, even being extremely bright, don’t go so far.
“Opportunities come disguised as hard work.” By Bernardinho (Brazilian volleyball coach and former player).
Then he brought in a very interesting analogy from Indian mythology
What can business leaders learn from directors of plays?
It’s been a while since I’ve directed a play. I miss it. I miss the freedom to be creative, I miss watching something take form, I miss seeing other people create performances around me. I miss realising a vision.
This last point is one that really interests me. Directing a play is about the most immediate and swift creation of a product I can think of.
Once the team/people have helped crafting the plan, they feel accountable for executing it. The more people are involved in the plan, the more they are aware of the expectations from them and the more is achieved. If you as the leader own the ‘WHAT’ of execution then your team must be the owners of the ‘HOW’. Using your leadership coaching approach ask how, specifically are they going to achieve their goals. Speak simply and directly about this.
We have now reached the fourth and last post of coaching elements (“Belief-Dream-Plan-Execute”) using lived experiences.
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of devising a strong plan so you can revisit your goal/dreams on a daily basis, ensure you (your team) are on track and heading in the right direction. Also made the analogy to a ship – the crew prepares a voyage plan before departure and, during EXECUTION, external factors and (involuntary) conditions may force them to constantly alter its route but the destination is kept as a goal.