Meet the successful Dutch company Viisi that offers advisory services on mortgages. The company is founded on principles that ensure maximum self-leadership at all levels of the organisation. The company is developing based on the following statements:

  • “Humans first, then the customers, then the owners – and do not forget society.”
  • “We are creating a workplace that allows each employee to develop his or her own talent freely and autonomously.”
  • “Meet your new boss: purpose.”

Also meet the e-commerce company Next Jump, which is presented in the book “An everyone culture” by Robert Keegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. In Next Jump, all new employees, irrespective of experience level and future role, begin by spending three weeks on a Personal Leadership Boot Camp. Here, the first task is to find your own “backhand” – a metaphor for the personal mindsets we all have that limit the individual’s opportunities for fully unfolding your development potential. The work on overcoming your backhand subsequently becomes an integrated part of your job. A job that you got, by the way, through a peer evaluation of three critical characteristics after your professional skills have been established:

  • Are you humble and willing to learn from others in order to grow?
  • Do you have backbone and endurance in the face of setbacks?
  • Are you ready to also help others grow?

And last, but not least, meet the investment company Rebel Group in which 70-80% of the employees are also co-owners of the company. The central dogma for Rebel Groups are:

  • “Grow or go” instead of “up or out”
  • “The power of the argument instead of the argument of power”
  • “We want to do meaningful things and create a better world. We also want to develop as persons and to have fun. And we want to end up being a formidable business success.”


What is it then that these companies have recognised that we maybe have not even realised yet?

They have realised that we thrive when we meet each other as human beings first and then as roles, titles, resources, etc. The development of the individual and thus of the whole is a crucial component in the above companies, in which the financial development is seen as a perfectly natural product of the human development. And the human development takes place within the scope of the purpose that everyone in the company shares. The above companies demonstrate that there is plenty of growth and solid business sense in making the human the focal point of your business. We all have this potential, and whether we realise it or not depends on our ability to create human development.


With his book “Reinventing organizations” from 2014, Frederic Laloux became a frontrunner for this new way of thinking of leadership and organisations. And he emphasises three characteristics of this new level of organisational design:

  1. Evolutionary purpose with which the company continuously develops in accordance with an existential desire to be something specific in and to the world, and in which we are able to sense and to respond quickly and securely to changed conditions
  2. Self-leadership in which everyone in the company can lead within the framework of the role and organisational purposes
  3. Wholeness, i.e. a mindset that is open to the notion that we can be ourselves as the whole human beings we are, also when we are at work. The concept of wholeness includes an implicit promise from the group to want to make room for the individual – not a demand that the individual must offer body, mind and soul to the workplace

From my many years of experience as an executive and as a management consultant, I have realised that the following concepts are also crucial ingredients in the development of the new organisational paradigm:

  • Authenticity, i.e. the will to discover yourself and your own truth and to express both through your behaviour
  • Vulnerability, i.e. the strength to be true to yourself, also when the consequence is that doubt and fear get mixed up with the success, confidence and great results. This forms a foundation for growth.
  • Egality, i.e. the recognition executed in practice that we succeed better as an organisation if we experience a true sense of community with equal worth and respect for everyone and their individual roles. Egality is the cultural element that makes it possible to practice all the other virtues in the organisation of the future.

In the cross-field between these characteristics lies the opportunity for and the motivation to achieve the human lift in development that will make all the difference. The first step on that journey may quite simply be a true curiosity about the potential we each have and then about ways of unfolding this potential.

Of course, the above is not a cut-and-dried recipe for a new management or organisational form, but I hope that it does add a little wind to your leadership sails to encourage and interest you in moving your company even closer to the future. I promise you that both you, your employees and your company will thrive as a result.

Originally published in Børsen Ledelse.