Results begin with listening
Creative curiosity, trust, recognition and 'getting things done'. These are the values that best describe the management style of Associate Partner Marijn Spruit of Boer & Croon. Before Marijn joined Boer & Croon, he worked for Shell in the Netherlands and abroad, where among other things, he managed a group of 3000 people. He has a passion for instigating change and is currently busy working on the energy transition through his own company Lasting Solutions. How does he view the energy transition? Are we doing well, or do we really need to step up our efforts?
"On the one hand, I try to be perceptive, to find new things and to look beyond the task at hand; at the same time, I try to get people involved and enthuse them. I believe that engaging employees in a positive way leads to greater motivation and better results. So that is really important to me. Moreover, as far as my leadership style is concerned, getting the most out of people is essential. I happen to believe that more people actually do know more. What's more, I'm a real doer who likes to get things going and to finish them off. Action is a key concept when it comes to what I want, and in that sense, I'm definitely quite demanding as well."
And where did this leadership style come from?
"I've developed this over the years. I worked for Shell for almost 29 years, in a wide variety of jobs at home and abroad. Because I've worked in different locations around the world, for example in Qatar, I came into contact with plenty of cultural diversity. A Dutch person, for example, is much more likely to enter into a discussion with their boss, while this is almost unthinkable for a Kazakh or a Nepalese, given the hierarchical relationships.
I have learned that in order to get the most out of employees from diverse cultures, you have to use a supportive and open leadership style. I also learned that it is important to listen to the feedback that people give you. All these experiences and lessons have ultimately shaped me and my leadership style into what it is today, and who I am today."
During your time abroad, did you also encounter any difficulties arising from the cultural differences that you just mentioned?
"It is sometimes said that the diversity of the group of people you speak to on a daily basis gets smaller and smaller from secondary school onwards, which was also the case for me. It wasn't until I was about 28 years old that I moved from the central office of Shell to a work location in Pernis, where I came into contact with people who had a completely different background and level of education than I did. So, I also experienced real 'aha!' moments there as well. It is very important to listen and to understand, as I also experienced in Qatar. I worked there with expats, but also with people who didn't speak English, for instance, and who had a hierarchical mindset. By adopting a supportive attitude and by instilling confidence, you can subsequently still achieve excellent results and help people develop further."
And what role do those experiences play in your approach to work today?
"In the first place, of course, I bring a certain work style with me. Besides that, I have developed my own passion over the years: instigating change, for example, in the field of energy transition, and making sure that the results are lasting. I achieve this by not only thinking in terms of processes, but also by taking into account the diverse cultures within the organisation."
Can you still see your passion at Boer & Croon?
"What I particularly like about Boer & Croon's structure, with respect to the Associate Partners, is that I get to meet people who have a lot of experience. Moreover, all those people bring their own passion and knowledge to address or change things in the interim management environment. In a way, we are like-minded people, but from very different backgrounds, and that is what makes Boer & Croon such an enjoyable place to work."
And what else do you like about Boer & Croon?
"I won my first contract as a self-employed person through Boer & Croon, so that was really terrific. I also notice that my fellow Associate Partners are willing to help me with new assignments, and with whatever assignment I am currently working on. That last point is also gratifying for clients, because it means that the solution to a problem is more permanent. Thanks to the help you get from people and the same kind of mindset that I mentioned earlier, it really feels like an incredibly warm bath that I've ended up in. Although I do think that Boer & Croon could do more to show that they are keeping up with social trends, such as combating waste, or the energy transition."
How do you envisage that?
"Everywhere I work, I aspire to achieving lasting results. At Boer & Croon I am now working with a group of people, including Haico Spijkerboer Partner from Boer & Croon, on the development of a plan that concerns sustainability. We are actively trying to set a course for sustainability. Obviously, it remains to be seen how this will develop in the future, given that everyone also works on assignments in between, but I believe that this theme is, and should be, important for all stakeholders. Outside of the company, I also think it is important for people to individually work on how they themselves can improve the world. In my own home, for instance, I've got very good insulation, solar panels on the roof, minimal waste, etc., though that is all on a relatively small scale. Ultimately, it's about creating a multiplier effect - how do we all get more done together? I hope that in the coming period people will become much more aware of the need to improve the world where the climate is concerned."