Dorine Veldhuyzen graduated from Erasmus University with her MBA and this was the start of many accomplishments. Having started working in the It and logistics industry, Dorine had gained experience in regard to leadership and forming connections. Since working in the logistics industry she has become a healthcare professional, as she discovered this is where her passion lies.
As Dorine found her passion, she has become the Executive Director at the CareCodex Foundation, which seeks to improve healthcare not only in the Netherlands but abroad as well. The way in which this is accomplished is by having people-centred care as one of the pillars of the foundation. Furthermore her foundation also values digital security and transparency amongst their clients and healthcare providers.
With help from the success her foundation gained Dorine was able to travel to various regions of the globe, the most prominent of which being Africa. Through her travels Dorine has been able to experience the subtle and breathtaking differences of the continent. From the smells to how leadership is approached in different areas, through her travels she has gained more experience in terms of forming connections and becoming a better leader. Additionally, she had also learnt the importance of forming understanding as sometimes we have good intentions yet there are consequences.
Positive intentions but negative consequences
As leaders we have the best intentions for our colleagues as we want to see them succeed and thrive at work. However, there are situations where we have the best intentions but they have negative consequences.
During her travels to Southern Africa Dorine had seen how good intentions can negatively impact a community in an unexpected way. In Southern Africa when you are a woman you gain microcredit initiatives and are thus able to purchase an item to help your business grow, or gain an income. But an aspect that can negatively impact this small enterprise is some forms of charity work that is supposed to uplift the community.
This disconnect between what Africa needs and how Europe wants to help can cause more harm to a community as we are not certain what we can do to help. A similar situation where this can be seen is in the workplace. As leaders we cannot assume that we know what is best for our colleagues nor should we shy away from asking them what they need.
Dorine explains that “it’s stupid to think that to assume that we know what everyone wants. So always question yourself and question others”. It is only through asking that we can make a meaningful impact in the workplace, not only for ourselves but for our teams as well. However, in order to make this type of meaningful change we must be knowledgeable in understanding how that change should be made.
Creating meaningful change
When an individual, who we care for is experiencing a problem or an issue we try to determine what we would do in their place, or what we have done to overcome a similar situation. We offer them advice as we want to help them grow and learn. That being said, despite us wanting to help, on occasion our own solutions may not be the solution they require.
Part of the experience Dorine had gained when travelling Africa a realisation that she had faced was that many African nations face different challenges to those of European nations. In Europe when an individual has an idea to overcome a challenge it is far easier, as we are privileged enough to have the means to make that idea a reality.
Compared to African nations this is a much more difficult process. In Africa there are creative and intelligent minds, yet they do not have the same set of resources. European nations try to assist by offering ideas to fix various issues, but it does not always have the best outcome as we lack the experience the African nations have.
Through Dorine’s experience with leadership there have been times when we as leaders are not willing to break barriers to implement change. In the healthcare industry this takes the form of various regulations which are not always a necessity, but they are implemented because they were useful in the past.
Dorine explains that “we are very stern and stubborn in letting go of these regulations, and sometimes that’s really necessary.” On occasion those very regulations become a barrier in different situations and we need to evaluate whether they are a necessity or causing a problem. Additionally the regulations or barriers we find ourselves implementing can overshadow the ethics of a situation. It is only when we implement this mindset that making change in the workplace becomes a smoother process.
On ethics and rules
Being a leader comes with a level of responsibility, and trust, and respect that your colleagues place in you. Unfortunately not everyone in leadership roles are able to prove that they are worthy of being trusted or respected by their colleagues.
In her travels to eastern Zambia, Dorine had met a female Chief who was loved and respected by her community. Unfortunately she had passed away at a young age and her nephew had taken her place as Chief. In Africa, when you are a Chief, the community respects you and trusts your judgement as there is a hierarchical structure that needs to be respected. In return for this title the Chief guides, protects and leads their people to prosperity. Yet this man was greedy and conflict was caused within their own community.
Despite this situation appearing to be a solely African problem, countries around the world face similar problems. There are times when leaders are put into power and they do not have society’s best interests at heart. In order to avoid creating distrust and losing the respect of our colleagues we must maintain a level of transparency.
Dorine explains “if there is any institution or any government, local governments that want to do evaluations, or finances, everything is transparent.” Being transparent as a leader creates that trust between you and your colleagues that helps form stronger connections in the workplace.
Travelling the globe can offer a new perspective on various issues a country is facing, but the experience that is gained during that time can be used in various ways. By applying what we can learn through our different experiences we are given the opportunity to grow and become better leaders for ourselves and our teams.