What got us here, won’t get us there

26 september 2017

Together with FINANCEbuilders, HRbuilders was founding partner of the executive day “When Belgium meets the Netherlands”, organised by Alex van Groningen. Kevin Mottard, the CFO community manager of AVG did an amazing job hosting this exclusive event that brought together 200 CEO’s, CHRO’s, CFO’s and other executives from Belgium and the Netherlands in the pre-eminent setting of the castle of Brasschaat.

Belgium and the Netherlands: what sets them apart and how can they reinforce each other?

We were in for a day of inspiration on HR, finance, leadership and innovation, discussing what Belgium and the Netherlands can learn from each other during keynotes, workshops and round tables, with extraordinary challengers such as Bart De Wever – major of Antwerp, professor Rudy Aernoudt – chief economist at the European Commission, Bart De Smet – CEO Ageas, Jacques Vandermeiren – CEO Port of Antwerp, Niko Demeester – VOKA, Birgit Conix – CFO Telenet and many others…

Happy to share – in this first blog on executive day – our major learnings and insights on Koen Gonnissen.

Koen Gonnissen is a Belgian performance coach who worked with the Belgian Davis Cup team. It is his mission to improve individual and team performane and to help build winning cultures, in sport and in business.

Did you know that in sport, they never talk about change? Instead, they talk about continuous improvement.

It’s about unlocking the potential of every single person whether it is a child, an athlete or an executive

Koen Gonnissen kicked us straight out of our comfort zone by defining the winning mindset that every company should thrive for, and how far away most companies still seem to be.

  • How do you make a team out of a group of individuals, working on the ingredients of a dreamteam?
  • How do you keep winning as an executive? Many companies are performant, but they don’t necessarily have a winning culture.
  • How do you help your team digest change after change after change?
  • How do you keep stretching all those unique talents in your team?
  • How do you define a sexy future (yes, you read that right!) for companies and teams, an adventure that everyone wants to go for?

Personal, team & organisational vitality

It’s important to work on three levels:

  1. The individual level
  2. The team level
  3. The organisational level


  1. Because the personal vitality of yourself and of every individual team member will impact your agility and capacity to keep on winning.
  2. Because your managers will have to be able to be top experts in building dreamteams time after time. Leadership & coaching cannot be delegated!
  3. Because measuring and leveraging your organisational energy will be key for keeping your troops involved.

Moving from Silo-mindset > participation mindset > performance mindset > winning mindset

Companies with a silo mindset are companies with takers: the me-first culture, nothing moves, nobody shares, everybody has an excuse why he or she remains immobile. The status quo is never questioned.

In companies with a participation mindset the me-too culture rules: people working there are matchers, that are too quickly satisfied. The status quo is never questioned because “nothing can be changed anyway”.

When evolving to a performance mindset, the team comes first and people are givers, highly motivated, engaged, they take responsibility and – very important – they are able to bounce back (resilience).

The ultimate mindset every organization should strive for is the winning mindset with a true innovation culture, where there’s no room for takers, givers or matchers, only boosters: they put the entire company first, they are proud, agile, enthusiastic and not only are they able to bounce back, they bounce back higher!

What percentage of your organization is in silo, what percentage is in participation, in performance, in winning mindset?

1) How do you get from a silo mindset to a participation mindset?

>> How do you move your group of individuals towards a solidary group that is aligned?

  • You need a sexy common objective
  • You have to make clear the ethical codes and rules, leaving no grey zones
  • You need to build trust! Lencioni wrote a superb book on trust with the 5 dysfunctions of a team: (1) absence of trust (2) fear of conflict (3) lack of commitment (4) avoidance of accountability and (5) inattention to results.

2) How do you get from a participation mindset to a performance mindset?

>> How do you move your solidary group towards a performant team that is committed?

  • You need clear lead roles, as opposed to complicated boxes and matrix structure management
  • Management style and the whole environment are key for motivation
  • Managing talent requires working on IQ, EQ, PHQ, SQ: I know my job (IQ),I’m connecting well (EQ),I have the energy (PHQ) and I know why I work with you instead of for you (SQ)

3) How do you get from a performance mindset to a winning mindset?

>> How do you move from a commited team towards a #dreamteam that aims for growth?

  • Feedback culture and learning capacity
  • Innovation and ‘little prince ideas’
  • You have to measure progress, and not just via KPI’s

There was an important caveat though: beware of toxic performers that perform extraordinarily on an individual level, but at the expense of the team performance, draining all the energy out of the rest of the team.

Always keep striving: how can I do better?

Koen closed his session with a short video of Tiger Woods, chronic experimenter, on why he decided to change his swing after the 1997 Masters.

He wanted to become better.

Tiger Woods is the perfect proof that winning is about constantly challenging yourself and accepting failure along the way…

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

Eager for more learnings on Executive day?

Stay tuned as we will also share our thoughts on what could happen if we would mix the best of the Netherlands with the best of Belgium >> we would get a winning culture for sure!

About HRbuilders:
HRbuilders – established in 2008 with HQ in Belgium – is active in HR Interim Management/ HR Consultancy assignments across Europe. Our niche as a matchmaker is 1. HR (only) 2. temporary assignments (only) and 3. freelancers (only). No headhunting, no other HR services, we focus on what we are great at! We offer our clients peace of mind where-ever they might need temporary HR support. On average our assignments are 1 year or longer.

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