Since 2012, Philippe Van der Beken has been working at Goodman, where he fosters an environment in which people can have big ambitions and realize them. “I strongly believe in empowering people to rise above themselves”, he says. “At Goodman, employees take action because they have the desire and the drive to make a difference – not because we tell them to. That’s how we give meaning to their lives and careers.”
Philippe stresses the importance of autonomy, ownership and accountability over “hierarchy and other typical corporate routines”. Goodman got rid of titles, for instance. “What matters is changing the world around us – hopefully for the better”, he explains. “Otherwise it’s just words, just theory. Whether you are dealing with people, challenges, the competition, the market or customers: everything is an exercise in reality to me. A title, by contrast, doesn’t mean anything. It is given to you, but it can also be taken away in heartbeat. What no one can ever take away from you, however, is your ability to motivate others, to come up with solutions, to make a difference. So that is what matters.” change.
“At Goodman, employees take action because they have the desire and the drive to make a difference – not because we tell them to. That’s how we give meaning to their lives and careers.”
Instead of titles, then, people have roles which are fulfilling, temporary, and chosen rather than assigned. Philippe: “Our team members take on a certain role because they want to, because they are genuinely interested, because the role is a good match for them at a specific time in their lives or for their abilities, and/or because they want to push themselves.” But while everyone has their individual role and responsibility, getting things done at Goodman is always a question of teamwork. “We have different ways of collaborating”, Philippe clarifies, “both on a structural and an ad hoc basis. Even if it’s just asking someone for advice: working together is at the heart of what we do.”
Philippe’s leadership style, too, is based on collaboration: “It is a matter of working towards a shared goal and making people find meaning in that. A leadership that is based on titles – on using power to push an agenda – doesn’t work. I want to lead with integrity and trust.”
“At Goodman, we aim for greatness. It is in our DNA to look for continuous improvement, every day. And that is the only attitude acceptable”, Philippe believes. “Telling yourself that ‘this is how it is and how it will be done from now on’ is uninteresting from both a business and a human perspective.” Philippe goes on to clarify that, for Goodman, progress is certainly not only a matter of making more money: “It is just as much about being more sustainable, contributing to charity and to local communities, and being honest and authentic towards our people, so that they can find meaning in their jobs and have a real impact.”
What Philippe is most proud of? “The fact that we succeed in making Goodman a better place. That’s why we have the right people on board, too – men and women who want to make the world a better place.”
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