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Rebel

It is pretty easy to label people in your social environment. It organizes your perspective on the world. That man is crazy. That woman is nice. Those people are mean. The Dutch are stingy.


The convenience of a label is, of course, also a danger: it stigmatizes. You start approaching people in a specific way dictated by the stigma. You avoid the crazy man; you trust the nice woman more. This interaction quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to the labeling theory (Erving Goffman), the person who is labeled often behaves socially, following the label given to them. The young person treated as a criminal becomes a criminal, the woman approached as demented becomes demented, and so on.


We also label in the board of supervisors. You know them from your board or council: Silent Willem barely says anything during the entire meeting; he looks around intelligently and nods occasionally; Exact Pietje takes pleasure in spending half an hour of everyone's precious time going through the minutes thoroughly; Nagging Zina unnecessarily harps on irrelevant topics; Eager Beaver constantly takes the floor and interrupts everyone; Chaos Chris never knows which agenda item they're discussing; Uninterested Otto is continuously texting on WhatsApp during the meeting, or sending emails if not; Lazy Leo never reads the documents in advance; Unavailable Adrie is, of course, never there; Late Thea always arrives late. What good are these people in the board? The irony is that you gain nothing from them, mainly because of your assigned label. This label determines the relationships, including how you interact with that particular person. That's not handy. In a board of supervisors, it's always about the group's results. You have to do it together. That means you must rely on something other than labeling. You have to engage with the other person. You have to look beyond the label. Why doesn't Silent Willem speak up? Ask him questions. Why is Uninterested Otto behaving that way? Perhaps he thinks the discussion could be more efficient. Ask Otto. As for Exact Pietje and the minutes? Don't discuss the minutes during the meeting, but have everyone email their comments and feedback beforehand. That way, Pietje's disproportionate and meaningless time consumption will become a thing of the past. This requires conversations at a meta-level. It means not getting stuck in quick judgments and condemnations but seeking contact with your fellow supervisors on topics that may seem uncomfortable but should not be avoided. That's group dynamics. The dynamics within a board of supervisors involve complex interactions between individuals, power relations, and organizational contexts. For example, suppose a supervisor is also a significant shareholder (as in the case of Ennia) or represents an important stakeholder. In that case, they can exert considerable power and influence over the decisions and direction of the board. Their opinions may carry more weight and can influence the outcome of discussions and decisions within the board. Here, too, the self-fulfilling prophecy comes into play. The supervisor/major shareholder encounters no criticism (because who dares?). They become more accustomed to not being contradicted. In this way, the effectiveness of the board's oversight deteriorates to a minimum.


For this reason, every board also needs rebels. These people are not afraid to speak up, even if it may be uncomfortable. They look beyond the label and force their fellow board members to do the same. Include them in the profile of your board of supervisors: Robbie and Ronella Rebel.

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