Find the courage to rebel

Inaugural Lecture Prof. Dr. Bas Kodden, LLM

November 12 2021

To be effective as an organization and to stay ahead of the competition, you sometimes need rebels: people who are not afraid to act different from the norm, the rules and ‘how we always have done things’. Today, Prof. Dr. Bas Kodden, LLM, addresses in his inaugural lecture ‘Out of control’ the importance of more room for autonomy, personal growth and wellbeing for employees. “Innovative leadership requires courage and non-conformist action when excessive regulatory pressure and the need for control cause damage and hold back change,” says Kodden, who accepts the Chair of Leadership and Management Development at Nyenrode Business University by delivering this inaugural lecture.

Kodden: ‘In our organized society, it is often about control, rules, procedures and systems over people. This often results in an out-of-control situation due to endless meetings or deadlocked discussions. Think for example of the high speed rail line or the allowance affair. Not only do rules and procedures make organizations expensive and slow, they also limit professionals in leveraging their talent and in their motivation. The ultimate way to get out of this situation and to give people back their energy is by breaking with the norm that withholds change and innovation. And that requires balls from leaders and organizations. In short: we need rebels.’ 


An organization with lots of control and rules offers little room for the individual, wellbeing, personal growth and self-efficacy (influence on your own achievements and actions). How do you promote as a supervisor a mindset that delivers sustainable achievements of both the employees and the organization? Prior research conducted by Kodden shows that especially the personal trait self-efficacy is crucial for sustainable achievements. During various studies in recent years, Kodden developed a toolkit to strengthen self-efficacy of both the individual and that of the organization. ‘When room is created for the interests of the individual and you dare to put these before the interests of the team, you will get enthusiastic employees who perform better and also stay with you for a longer period of time. Which is no superfluous luxury in times like these’, according to Kodden.

Controller in control?

If there is one group that seems to have to behave conformistically, it is the controllers: they are used to many rules, procedures and systems. This raises the question whether they also feel the need for more space for original and non-conformist thinking  and behavior? And does it improve their achievements? Kodden researched this question among 500 Dutch controllers. During his inaugural lecture, he will share the first results: ‘The study shows that, among other things, nonconformity is not useful until there is damage for employees or the organization. There is no need to rebel when everything is going smoothly. However, the degree of problem-solving ability and originality does always ensure improved and more sustainable results for both the organization and the employees. And this will only become more important for the controller who is not only supposed to control data, but who is more and more often required to apply generic skills to properly fulfill the role as advisor to management. 

With his Chair, Kodden challenges students to find and give space to their rebellious side in conducting original, ballsy and self-effective research. Remember: One life, no limits! Live it up!

Click here for the full inaugural lecture of Bas Kodden.

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