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March 2021

The organisation of the future plays draw

We are proud to announce that on March 1st, one of our colleagues and Lead Strategist Leonie van Mierlo (55) will launch her management book Gelijkspel wint (Draw wins) on the power of gender diversity and inclusive leadership. Of the more than 1 million books listed on it appeared in the top 25 this week (already two weeks before its launch!). 

Leonie wrote this book on a personal note, combining over 30 years of working experience, strategic vision, and background in organisation development. “As an innovation strategist, I know from practice that innovative ideas can only arise if you bring together different perspectives. Yet, it strikes me time and again how homogeneous many boards and management teams are and how few women sit at those tables, especially in leadership positions. I also see great women leave companies because they no longer want and can cope with the masculine organisation culture. Organisations lose tremendous potential.

Diversity works!

Research confirms repetitively that diverse teams perform substantially better: better decision making (+87%), more income from innovation (45+), and more turnover (15-21%).

Leonie: “The business case is there! Diversity and inclusion also contribute to a better understanding of your target group, more employee engagement, and better employer branding. Being not-diverse can make it hard to attract talent and I see more and more ‘shaming’ of white-male-dominated companies. Organisations need diversity in the broadest possible sense: gender, cultural background but also employees that think differently. True leadership is being able to manage all those perspectives!”


Stop fixing the women. Fix the system.

Gelijkspel wint came about in co-creation. Leonie interviewed more than 60 experts and top managers. All changemakers, both men and women. “In addition to extensive research, I interviewed 60 (known and unknown) men and women, from a student in artificial intelligence to our minister Sigrid Kaag. This has made it a very complete story. We like to see the Netherlands as open and diverse, but the truth is that our international position when it comes to gender equality is disappointing. We rank 38 on the Global Gender Equality Index and even fell back 11 positions last year. Only 12,4% of Dutch board members of the 5.000 largest companies are female. My most important insight is that in order to catch up we must not change the women but change the system! The system is about how we view leadership, the processes and systems through which we make decisions, but also how we fill vacancies. Leadership teams that are still dominated by the same white-50+male leaders are no longer future-proof.

Recently the Dutch House of Representatives decided on a women’s quota that should lead to 33% female supervisory board members at listed companies. The largest 5.000 Dutch companies need to define and report on ambitious self-imposed targets: “Nobody wanted it to come this far, but let’s embrace any measure that will contribute to more gender diversity. Now it is up to organisations to make diversity and inclusion work. Gelijkspel wint offers insights, advice and a roadmap to do just that.

In Gelijkspel wint Leonie starts with an inventory of the current status in terms of gender diversity in the Netherlands, then she sketches a picture of the organization of the future and what leadership is required for this. Van Mierlo: “To meet the challenges of the purpose economy, the 4th industrial revolution, and the battle-for-talent, we need feminine leadership more than ever: a holistic strategic view, collaborative, ethics, and empathy. Leaders should not give the right answers but ask the right questions. Those are all feminine qualities! We need masculine and feminine energy, men and women supplement and strengthen each other. Women need to take their position and become ‘new role models’ when leading from their femininity. There is a crucial role for men to allow them to do that. And when men stand up they make a double impact. Like Constantijn van Oranje, who will not speak at a conference where the speakers only consist of men. Let’s make it happen together. By playing draw in the workplace everybody wins! ”

About Leonie van Mierlo

Leonie van Mierlo (1966) is an innovation strategist at Fronteer, (business) coach and author. After more than 25 years as a manager within profit and non-profit organizations, she guides organizations and individuals to find their “dot on the horizon” and coaches them on their path to get there. She does this with passion, creativity, and great realization power.

Along the line of Gelijkspel wint, Leonie inspires teams and organizations on the subject of diversity and inclusion and guides organizations in change processes.

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