4 ½ leadership lessons for 2019

One of the great things about the start of a new year is being able to look forward to all the exciting opportunities ahead. It’s also a time to look back on all the significant moments of the year that’s just passed. For me 2018 was a year full of challenges and enriching experiences and I’ve learnt some important lessons along the way.

  1. Open your eyes and learn to see like an outsider

In 2018 I spend time in Ethiopia and we had a great assignment in South Africa. Travelling around I found myself in a context where almost everything was new. I couldn’t just assume I’d have all the answers. That realization that sometimes you have no idea, forces you to observe the situation from a very different perspective. You have to suspend judgment and constantly ask questions to try to make sense of your new context. You can’t take anything for granted. Imagine if as leaders we could look at our own companies with the same fresh perspective, what would we see that we otherwise overlook or take for granted? What questions would we be asking instead of assuming we know the answers?

  1. Share Wisdom

With leadership comes responsibility, and one of those responsibilities is to keep learning and seeking out opportunities for growth and development – not just for yourself but also for your people. According to Simon Sinek great leaders are the ones who consider themselves students regardless of their status. They have an insatiable desire to continuously build and develop their leadership skills. We’re surrounded by so much wisdom and this year I’ve realized more than ever how many opportunities there are for us to grow as individuals, teams and organizations by sharing our lessons and being open to learn from others.


  1. Think Positive

In the spirit of development and learning, this year I travelled to London Business School to attend their change leadership programme where I gained some interesting insights about the power of positivity. Change is a given in any organization today but how well we adapt to change is not such a sure thing. It’s not unusual to find leaders (under pressure to achieve results and meet deadlines) driving people to go faster, work harder, do better and often attention is drawn to the things that aren’t good enough. But according to positive psychology experts like Dan Cable author of Alive at Work, if we want people to change, then we need to support people, give them space to experiment and open their minds by focusing on the positive.


  1. Be Humble

This year I was proud to see Philips be awarded the prestigious Reputation Award for the 11th time running. You might think after 11 times, there’d be a certain complacency or arrogance that sets in, but although President of Philips Netherlands, Hans de Jong, was delighted by the award he made it very clear: you only have to look around at the big problems facing society and consider what still needs to be done and what role we have to play in that to realize that we can’t sit back and take success for granted. Be and stay humble. Especially as leaders.

4.1/2 We don’t have all the answers and we never will, finding things out together is part of the fun. So ask us your questions, share your wisdom, we’d love you to join us on our journey of discovery through 2019 and beyond.

Anja Verheij – Köllmann 2018.