Tomorrow the Belgian media and learning world will say goodbye to Bob De Groof, deceased earlier this week. Much has been shared and said about Bob this week via Twitter and at the end of this post, I will direct you to those “in memoriams”. If you knew Bob, I invite you to think of him tomorrow morning and if you want to know how I knew him, read on…
Read the 2005 article “Wie is Bob De Groof?” from De Standaard and you will see that by the time I was watching Star Wars for the first time, Bob had already done so much as a media-man in Belgium. I can’t add anything to his career notes, as I simply don’t know enough. I just wanted to share 4 of my own Bob stories, to share what Bob means to me. These stories remind me of an inspiration, an industry standard and one of the world’s last true gentlemen.
Bob is an early morning chat about what’s important in life, about following your dreams.
I first met Bob in 2006 at Logica, when I hired his “Presentation Skills” training services with Kluwer. As “Training and Development Manager” of that company, I was looking for the highest standard of trainer to help the top managers in the company to improve their ability to pitch, tell a story and sell a solution. Enter Bob. At 7.30am.
Aside from me and Bob, no-one was generally around at that time in the office, so we got to chatting. (Don’t tell my ex-boss!). In fact, every time Bob would come to Logica, we would spend about an hour before the working day waxing lyrical about everything from the day’s news to my kids or his, travel or everyday stuff. One day, I told him I wanted to be a “Presentation Skills” trainer myself and he encouraged me to follow my professional dreams. If I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing, I should change it. Simple as that. Extremely polite and “correct” in his speech, I found in Bob a certain “direct authority” combined with the kind of objective but caring friendliness you might expect from a favourite uncle.
Bob is one of 3 or 4 people that really inspired me to make the decision to go it alone and do my thing. I’m very grateful.
Bob will always be THE standard. The point of reference for excellence in his domain.
At the end of the very first training Bob delivered at Logica, 2 of the manager/participants came to see me. I was worried. Had I made a mistake? Did Barbara Verscheuren sell me a dud? Far from it! They came to tell me that it was amazing to have such a trainer. “How could one man have SO MUCH experience to share?” Despite their years of pitching business, Bob was able to bring real value and improve their presentations. He was a master in “Presentation Skills”.
Jump forward to 2010: Kluwer asked me to pick up some of Bob’s training. What a compliment! I remember telling my wife that I (yes, little me!) had been asked to take over for Bob. (Yes, for Bob!!). I never pretended to be able to fill his shoes, but I was damn-well going to do my best to fly his flag high! I still am.
Bob makes you feel good about being whatever you are.
That’s a rare talent, I think. I do know one other person who comes close, but its still rare. When I was with Bob, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Not because I was, but because he made me feel like I was. I don’t know if he consciously made an effort to find and tap-into the things that made people tick, if he knew he did it and did it on purpose, or if that’s just Bob. But it was the same everytime.
In particular, I remember one evening where all the Kluwer trainers got together on a barge in Leuven for a cooking party. As I left the boat, I bumped into Bob and Helena Van Caekenberge from Kluwer. Seeing me, Bob announced: “Ah, the rising star of Kluwer”. Again, I went home and told my wife. What a compliment!
Bob makes you raise your own standards. Or wear different shoes 🙂
As I already said, Bob De Groof was an excellent trainer. You follow his course, you improve. Simple. But it doesn’t stop there..
Last year, I was invited by Kluwer to speak at their evening Trainer’s Lounge on the usage of “Social Media for Training”. I saw Bob just before, dressed (as ever) in his suit and tie. Having myself had the day off, I was dressed in what I call my “Zuckerberg plus-1” conference look of jeans, trainers and a shirt (the shirt being the “plus-1”). Having always been troubled by how one should dress for a presentation, I shared my thoughts on the topic and asked Bob what he thought. His reply was simple: “Always dress a little bit better than the audience. And at least wear a nice pair of shoes.”
I can’t say do the first part, but I definitively swapped the trainers for a good pair of shoes the very next day.
So that’s “my” Bob: An inspiration, THE standard, a motivator and all round smart gentleman.
If you want to share your own ideas, please comment below.
Thanks for reading.
If you want to read more, here’s a selection of this week’s “in memoriams’:
- Lukas De Vos, DeWereldMorgen.be: “De gladde generatie: in memoriam Bob De Groof (1945-2013)”
- Wim Chielens, Brieven uit de Westhoek: “Bob De Groof, I.M”
- Kluwer’s IM
- DeRedactie.be and VRT.be
Here is the post-it note list my recent trainees made about leadership competences over my 4 day course with Kluwer. Split into knowledge, skills and attitude…
Knowledge – a good leader should know..
- His own style of communication
- ..and those of the team
- How people on the team feel
- The team’s strengths and weaknesses
- What gets her own people in FLOW
- What is reasonable and what is not
- The mission
- About different personalities (eg: red monkey lovers)
- Which tools and resources are available, where and how to get them
- Different working methods
- The working environment, business, key players etc..
- Where we are in relationship to the mission
- The big picture
Skills – a good leader should be able to..
- Be clear in communications
- Communicate assertively
- Give regular constructive feedback, including good examples
- Adapt feedback frequency to the needs of the people (like with situational leadership)
- Make good decisions
- Moderate conflict
- Create strategic action
- Set expectations well
- Influence and convince people
- Build trust
- Use active empathy
- Avoid (or at least be aware of) assumptions
- Be objective
- Adapt leadership style to the needs of the people
- Evaluate performance with a blend of objectivity and subjectivity
- Build a good network
- Set priorities
- Create a good environment in which he can gather input from the team
- Stimulate problem solving
- Coach people (when it is right to)
- Mentor people (when it is right to)
- Direct people and hold hands when neceesary
- Deal with own stress and the stress of others
- Inspire the team
- Solve problems
- Adapt to different situations
- State objectives in a clear and motivating way
- Keep distance when required
- Think outside of the box
- Play purple (see Gavin Kennedy’s book on “Negotiation”)
- Admit when things go wrong
- Create effective teamwork
- Assign the right people to the right tasks
- Empower people
- Deal with change
- Use google 🙂
Attitude – a good leader should be ..
- Adult-minded (ego state)
- Think win:win
- ..but flexible
- Focusses on results
- …but not forget people, emotions and feelings
- Calm under pressure
- “Can-do” minded
At a recent Kluwer Trainer’s Evening, we discussed lots of things that could be done using #SoMe before, during and after training to improve its effectiveness.
I decided I would try using video to invite people to training, giving a little information about myself and the content prior to arrival. I thought this might simply help to create some rapport prior to an event and maybe align expectations. I also think the medium is nicer than a simple email.
In preparation for a conference at the Federal Government last week on the New World of Work and how we need a New Way of Learning, I published this film…
- This film was made in my office at home using a flip-cam. I decided to pay real preparation attention to the content of what I wanted to share, but the film itself was done in 1 take –> I don’t think people expect you to be a perfect presenter on such a film.
- I uploaded it to my own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/dansteerchannel)
- The film was referenced in an email to all participants – 70 people in total.
It was watched by 60 people so far.
If you, as a traine, have questions about such simple add-ons to yor approach, mail me!
Thanks for reading,
Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…
References DAY 1
- Here you can find a list of leadership competences outlined by previous trainees
- Check out the film from Al Gore’s ex-speech writer Dan Pink on the DRIVE wall
- To see a list of ideas from previous trainees on how to bring FLOW into the organisation, click here and click here to see all their references from the FLOW wall
- If you would like to read my thoughts on P.E.R.S.O.N.A.L goal-setting, check this link
- See what google’s VP for HR says about people management skills
- Remember ROWE?
- For book references, check www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- 7 Habits
Homework / Preparation DAY 2
- Do the exercise found on this web-page
- Have a look at this webpage (wall) http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/leadership-drive – please add something of your own – a reference, link, comment or idea about DRIVE
- Fix 1 SMART objective concerning your development as a leader
References from DAY 2
- Get some more information here about Albert Mehrabian who told us about words, intonation and everything else
- The problem with 1-way communication
- …and 3 tips if you are obliged to do things 1-way
- I told you that you would care about why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere…. read here to see why
- I found this link for some information on seating politics and room dynamics – I’ll let you judge the quality of info…
- For more information about Sun Tzu follow this link. To read “The Art of War”, follow this link – position is the key to strategy!
- Check out Charlene Li’s book “Open Leadership” which discusses the key issue of giving up control when allowing people more freedom
Homework in preparation for DAY 3
- Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
- Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)
Here are the references from training DAY 3
- “Coaching for Performance” by Sir John Whitmore for more info on how and why to use the GROW model
- Check out my blog-post of my favourite SWOT questions (used during reality/options assessment of GROW) and tips on how to use SWOT
- 10 things you can learn from David Brent about performance evaluations
- 2 additional references about performance evaluations
- Meritocratic performance management systems: A short article on how some people feel about it
- Another idea on performance evaluation process: APOP (Annual Piece of Paper)
- Here you can find some info on PAC ego-states
- Book references can always be found on http://www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- Coaching for Performance
- TA Today
Homework in preparation for DAY 4
- Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
- Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4
References DAY 4
- Here you can get a lot more information about Jef Staes and Red-Monkeys
- Read this blog page for notes on what leaders can do to bring change to the organisation
- Read what Dummies has to say about giving feedback
- Read about logical levels – interesting to use in coaching..?
Hope this was interesting
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