How Well Does Dick Simons Know Himself As A Leader?

Connective entrepreneur Dick Simons is allergic to structure and prefers to look for creative possibilities within the given system.

Completing and reflecting on the Connecting Leadership Mirror Reflector is a rewarding starting point for a good conversation.

Who is Dick Simons? First and foremost in this context: together with yours truly, he was the founder of the Association for Connective Leadership (and thus lifelong honorary member).

In addition, Dick has been a creative and versatile entrepreneur and a true community man all his rich life. Among other things, he was founder and chairman of the local golf association, director of the Red Cross in his region and professional mediator/conciliator in and on behalf of his municipality, and member of various ‘ombudsman’ committees.

(Ombudsman: typical Dutch role as official trusted caretaker for people who have difficulties with governmental procedures.)

Dick on his CLM profile: "I did expect a bit more yellow, and a bit less blue, after all, you know me as a resourceful person and someone who doesn't exactly like rules and procedures right now. There is definitely some red in me, when it comes to acting forcefully and creating clarity."

Reflection from Cees: "I usually look through the highest colour (blue) to the second (purple) and relate the two. Both colours represent so-called We-systems (just like green and turquoise), and you could argue that at the core you would like things to be well organised, systematic even, but that behaviour is more the result of joint development and consensus, rather than imposed from on high. Functionally, purposefully ordered, there is nothing wrong with that. "

"Don't let a low yellow throw you off: your creativity is merely intertwined with your entrepreneurship. For you, an idea is a starting point for action, involving people, actually bringing a new product or service into the world. That's where your orange, green and red value systems can be of value. Yellow is more something of our younger generations: a quality to thrive in complex circumstances. With your high degree of turquoise, you demonstrate a much larger We-domain, where diverse talents and backgrounds can reinforce each other."

"I imagine you were very effective in roles, such as chairperson and mediator, where you had to bring others to good cooperation."

How to lead volunteers. Dick: "As director of the Red Cross in my region, I had to deal with 350 volunteers, each with their own fine intentions, but together not always too effective. Against expectations, I changed the system from "1 boss" to a real management team of up to nine people, with a view to maximising representation."

"And we started making systematic policy in good consultation. Sometimes also with the consequence that I had to sack certain volunteers. Voluntary is not the same as complete freedom. After all, as a Red Cross, we had a beautiful and difficult job to do. I learnt a lot during that period about the distinction between (leading), undertaking and managing. You need them all."

You can't do it without structure. Dick: "You don't sit on an island, but you move around in society. The trick is to connect the system with creative people. And to the extent that leadership is needed, it is important that the relevant manager first understands himself well and then acts from a genuine interest in people."

Cees Hoogendijk
January 1, 2024
Reading time 3 minutes
How Well Does Dick Simons Know Himself As A Leader?
Photo: Dick Simons