Together shaping the future

Becoming chief HR at CFE, Valerie van Brabant saw the need for Learning & Development to come up with proper trajectories supporting CFE’s leaders with new kinds of leadership and management styles.   

Valerie: “With CFE we do have very talented people. At the same time I still see a lot of potential for further developing leadership and new styles in management. From previous experiences with Outward Bound, I knew they could be an interesting partner helping us with their outdoor and experiential approach.”

CFE is a Belgian industrial group active in Dredging, Contracting, and Real estate projects employs more than 8,000 people and is active on every continent.

“Covering such a big range of activities and bringing together a diversity of peoples with a remarkable variety in roles, by doing activities together and experiencing the impact of your leadership behavior on others, participants get direct and real input from the other group members during reflections from which they learn most”, she states.

“Outward Bounds approach is very comparable with the work our project leaders do on construction sites. The project leader over there needs to align people with very different profiles. Subcontractors, workmen, suppliers, clients, all very much differ regarding their background, capabilities, communication skills, technical knowledge, company culture and responsibilities,” explains Valerie.

So when CFE chose for a leadership trajectory with Outward Bound Belgium, they didn’t opt for the powerpoint bullets in the classroom, but created a training with an outdoor module. That would set the atmosphere where people could practice - in a challenging but safe environment - what kind of leadership is most effective for project teams.

Together with Valerie and Sofie Vaesen from L&D, the following key objectives were defined:

  • As a project leader, how to bring together different stakeholders in a constructive manner?
  • Where should your focus and attention go to leading a group. And how does the diversity in people affect your leadership and group effectiveness (as your team may consist out of suppliers, subcontractors, labor workers, …)
  • Strengthen the connection with people with similar functions within CFE as they have,
  • As leaders, increase self-awareness and self-knowledge.
  • Explore the impact of your own behavior upon the others and learn what impact the behavior of the others have upon you.

The design of the program was well embedded in a longer trajectory.

After each module Outward Bound and CFE linked back to each other to see and evaluate where CFE and the respective participants of the program were standing and what steps were to be taken next.

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