Knowledge centre

Question for leaders  |  20 June 2023

“What do you have to say ‘no’ to when you say ‘yes’ to development?”

Systemic leader Barbara Hoogenboom:

“Leaders who want to implement a planned change always have a good story behind why that change has to take place. It paints a beautiful picture of the future. Something is actually not right now, but we are going to change and then it will actually get better.

The change is therefore initiated with ‘yes’: we are going to do that, we are going there and say yes to all kinds of new things, new ways of working, a new location or new colleagues. Whatever the change is.

But when you say ‘yes’ to the new, what are we saying ‘no’ to? If you already gave 100% and you say ‘yes’ to new things, then things also have to be dropped. Often little attention is paid to this.

That which is lost after such a change often does not get a voice. These can be tangible things, such as saying goodbye to your beautiful desk or your own room or no longer working with that great colleague, but they can also be intangible things. Something may be affected in your autonomy or your enjoyment.

If the systemic leader does not make it explicit that you also have to say goodbye to something before you can move on to development, it often ends up in the undercurrent. Then people can subconsciously remain connected to how things used to be, to the previous manager or to the previous colleague. Then what stops is not neatly tied off. That means that people’s energy is still going there.

When you don’t say ‘no’ to something, people remain connected to the then and they are less present where you want them to be, in the development.”

This question comes from the Systemic Leadership Fan. This fan contains 224 questions on 45 themes. Every question has the potential to help you in your systemic leadership.

Barbara Hoogenboom

Leader Systemic Business School


Systemic Business School

Systemic Business School gives leaders completely new tools for their leadership style. When you work from the connectedness of the whole, you will find it easier and more enjoyable to achieve your goals, together with your team and organization. Systemic leadership helps you to continue your journey as a leader with inspiration and energy.

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