flag-europe.png Europe - English

This article was published 12-04-2019

Traditional Leadership Skills Won’t Get You There

The metals and electronics industry still subscribes to a fairly traditional career trajectory. Young men and women often start off in a hands-on position and may eventually move into a leadership role. This transition from team member to team leader requires a different set of skills – skills which need to be learnt.


Manon Lubbers, project lead with training fund A+O Metalektro, says many in those leadership positions require further support and training. Consultant Ron explains how Schouten & Nelissen can help with this.

Robots are here to stay
The metals and electronics industry continues to move forward at a rapid pace. As a result of automation and digitalisation, entire workplaces are being robotised. Or as Manon Lubbers comments: “The industry already looks completely different from how it did ten years ago. One can only imagine what it will look like a decade from now.”

A different type of leadership
As these changes take place with jobs disappearing or evolving, employees often find themselves having to adapt significantly. Their leaders, meanwhile, become more focused on the bigger picture, with greater cooperation taking place across the chain and an increasing focus on the wider process instead of specific tasks. The challenge for leaders is to prepare their employees for this development and train them appropriately.

When suddenly you’re the boss
The metals and electronics industry craves leaders who understand how employees add value. This isn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds, because it requires soft skills and a people-centred focus. Manon says: “Traditionally, you would start your career as a technician, mechanic, welder, etc. After a number of years you might then progress towards an oversight or a leadership role. Often, you’d receive no additional training when moving up, because for a long time that was simply not thought of as necessary.”

Putting your own oxygen mask on first
Since A+O Metalektro introduced a leadership course as part of its educational offer, interest in Futureproof leadership has been significant. Manon explains: “How can leaders be expected to help employees develop their soft skills, when they may not yet have developed those skills themselves? Leaders are often aware of the gaps in their knowledge and are keen to address them. It’s obvious they are looking for support and I think that’s a very positive development indeed.”

Training and practice
Describing the course, our consultant Ron said: “We encourage participants to get stuck in from the get-go by asking them to nail down a clear ambition for their team. We also get them to think through how much they’re looking towards the future, and how well they truly understand themselves.”

Mutual learning
“We challenge them to look at how they might inadvertently be hampering their own team and whether any of their old belief systems about how things should be done may be sabotaging their goals. Participants are buddied up with someone who keeps them on their toes and provides them with ongoing feedback during and after the three-day course. The idea is to learn from each other and with each other – just as it should be on the work floor.”

 A what? A vision
There are three specific topics which are covered as part of the three training days. Ron: “We kick off with a session around vision. This may appear pretty obvious, but in this industry vision and mission are terms not often used. One tends to focus on the job at hand – usually in the way it’s always been done before. For many participants it can be a refreshing and exciting idea to allow their employees to think about the future and their goals. Following on from this, participants will learn how they can strengthen their team. Finally, they’ll also address how they themselves can grow within their role.”

Looking positively towards the future
Manon can see a lot of change ahead: “In our industry this type of training really does make a big difference. In the past, little attention has been paid towards anything other than technical training. But things are moving forward. It’s great to see more companies seriously considering the impact of a world that is changing, as well as the role they themselves play in this.”

The Dutch Foundation for Labour and Training in Metalektro (A+O Metalektro) was established in the eighties after it became clear that following a period of significant unemployment, not enough professionals were finding their way to the industry. Labour unions and employers put their hands together by making A+O Metalektro the joint vehicle for action on practical training and education. Member organisations are awarded funding whenever they employ an apprentice – paid for by the industry itself. A+O Metalektro’s currently has 1,150 members, employing a total of 159,000 people.

Discover new possibilities
We have plenty of experience developing leadership talent in a wide variety of organisations. We always start off by fully understanding the training needs of the teams and organisations we work with. After thoroughly analysing those needs, we then formulate a clear set of goals and agreed outcomes.

If you’d like to find out more, please do get in touch.

Back to overview

Select your region / language