Florus leaves the PLF board but will always be MAD

“In 2015, the NVVB, Erasmus University and FUTUR took the initiative to organize a MAD event. Approach; How do we motivate as many people as possible to make a difference to their environment, institute or society and thereby to discover and learn their own leadership skills. The result was an energetic and inspiring day with students, (young) professionals and academics who came together and shared experiences.

This day gave so much enthusiasm that we decided to continue the movement and establish the Public Leadership Foundation. Meanwhile, the movement has grown into a serious Public Leadership Forum with professionals in or around the public sector, students and the scientific world who work together to make a difference.

I consciously say a difference and not the difference. If you have the dream to change the whole world tomorrow, you will quickly get out of energy and get disappointed. Any small difference in your immediate area is a step forward. A colleague who helps you in advance, a family member who helps you or just someone on the street who needs a smile. Just remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

In recent years, I have been able to contribute to a few of these small steps, by connecting people or just challenging them. The foundation has grown with new members help develop the movement to the next level. From my new working context at Disgover, I continue to make a difference for an even more beautiful world. Although I “formally” leave the board, I continue to support the MAD movement. Also by making (small) differences; by sharing my umbrella with someone who has forgotten his or hers; by challenging my colleagues to pushing boundaries; by continuing to learn and to be inspired by others. Do you join the MAD movement!?”

– Florus van der Linden

MAD story: Young Climate Summit

The Young Climate Summit is one of the guestspeakers during MAD2017. Get a sneak preview on their story (in Dutch, subtitles available)


The Young Climate Movement will be present at our MAD event on 23th of November, where you will hear more about their ambitions, social contribution and inspiring leadership. YCM will contribute to the plenary session of the event, but also facilitate one of the more intimate break out-sessions where you can discuss public leadership and your contribution to climate with representatives of this very inspiring organisation. See you there?

Also have a MAD story you would like to share? Contact us here!

SAVE THE DATE: MAD event on the 23rd of November!

The Public Leadership Foundation is proud to announce that this year’s MAD event will be held on the 23rd of November! #MAD2017 is all about getting inspired to be MAD (Make A Difference) in our lives, institutions, and society as a whole. The purpose of this annual event is to bring students, (young) professionals and academics together to connect and learn from each other and get inspired to show public leadership.

  • For students, (young) professionals and academics
  • About Making a difference through EPIC leadership (Energy, Purpose, Identity and Courage)
  • On 23rd of November, 12:00 to 18:00 pm

So what to expect? During the event, you can join the conversation in small-scale meetings, get inspired by the MAD stories of other public leaders or put your own leadership skills to the test in a serious game. Check the sneak preview of one of our guest speakers: the Young Climate Summit. 

Are you ready? Come share your MAD story on the 23rd of November and subscribe here! (By the way; there will be no entrance fee, because inspiration is for free)

Yosha’s view on generations, stereotypes & assumptions

My name is Yosha van Droffelaar and I am currently doing an internship at the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom relations and I am also one of the apprentices at the PLF. One of the projects I’m working on is the generation research.

Reflection Focus Groups

There was a pleasant ambiance as the participants of the first focus groups of our Generation Research slowly began to consume the breakfast we catered in the early morning silence at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom relations. Despite the fact that it is always difficult to make statements based on a small number of participants, that particular morning of May 18th I nevertheless noticed that the outlined generation profiles appeared to closely match that which the focus groups revealed. And although our objective is to question generalisations, a first impression of the focus group would, for example, suggest to me that generation Y corresponds well with the generational ‘stereotype’: creativity, authenticity, openness and innovation are of great importance to them. Yet, they also, seem to decidedly dislike status, contrary to expectations. I wonder though if this was not just a socially desirable answer.

Where generation X mainly left a pragmatic and realistic impression, generation Y and the babyboomers appeared to have a more idealistic mindset. Generation Y and the babyboomers mostly care about the same values: meaningfulness, creativity and innovation. This in contrast to generation X, where values such as solution mindedness, growth and development took center stage.

Notably, amongst the babyboomers values such as cooperation and connecting stood out. In the context of connection it is worth noting that all three generations indicate to greatly value meaning and significance. This provides an interesting starting point for the continuation of our research, since every generation is likely to interpret these values differently.

Tensions and Stereotypes

Although we will only further explore the possible existence of intergenerational tensions during future focus groups, I noticed that about generation Y especially negative statements were made. Generation Y would be lazy and pampered, not used to working hard, individualistic and rude.

American author and researcher Jessica Kriegel confirms that persistent stereotypes chiefly exist with regard to generation Y (Vleugels, 2016). Surprisingly, Kriegel set out to demonstrate that millennials are fundamentally distinct from other generations with her thesis. She discovered, however, that there was no consensus whatsoever, and that many conclusions were based on assumptions, not on actual differences. Kriegel goes as far as to suggest we should stop using terms as ‘millennial’ and ‘babyboomer’ altogether. According to her, these labels are tainted by negative stereotypes, and moreover legitimise age discrimination (ibid.).

Occupational psychologist and emeritus professor Human Resource Studies Rob Vinke, on the other hand, suggests that the distinction between different generation is not a problem in itself, but that the focus on negative characteristics is one all the more. Vinke asserts that organisations can only function optimally when the pros and cons of each generation are known. His advice is therefore to strive for sufficient diversity within your organisation (Vleugels, 2016). Our research adopts a similar conviction.

However, there also exists a counter-message concerning generation Y. Nadine Ridder (2017), for example, discloses, in reaction to the frequently expressed negativity, that generation Y does not think that highly of themselves at all. Luckily, we are more or less done with the ancient Dutch ‘doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg’ [just act normal, that is weird enough already] mentality. Generation Y has learned that a bit of confidence helps a person get further in life, and that we prefer to reflect on ourselves so as to continue growing and developing. ‘This self-reflection and online validation gets often associated with egocentrism, since we are busy with ourselves all day. That is correct, because we were taught: a better world starts with yourself’, said De Ridder (ibid.). Additionally, she expresses that generation Y is not pampered, instead they achieve great things at a young age, because they believe in theirselves thanks to positive stimulus from their parents. Ridder concludes by saying that the discussion now is mostly about dealing with millennials in the workplace, whilst the question people should actually ask themselves is: ‘How do I, as a non-millennial, learn to survive in a millennial-world?’ ‘We millennials need our doubtful mentality in life: in an ever-changing society we have no idea what the world will look like in a few years time’ (ibid.).

Although there is no consensus on generation theory here either, there is nonetheless plenty to think about. It is important that we continually reflect on any assumptions and that we are aware of the influence of above-mentioned stereotypes.

Wanted: ‘Firesoul’ with great communication & wordpress skills

Do you want to engage in (new) public leadership activities? Are you a communication talent with experience in WordPress?

The Public Leadership Foundation (PLF) is looking for a ‘Firesoul’ with great communication & wordpress skills to strengthen our movement!

The purpose of the PLF is to encourage, identify, develop and support leadership in the public sphere. We are setting out to be MAD (Making A Difference) through EPIC leadership (Energy, Purpose, Identity and Courage).

The PLF is a young and ambitious foundation. We want to anchor public leadership in society by connecting public, private and third sectors based on shared purpose. Last year we organised multiple events and gave workshops at several congresses. This year the first (four) EPIC Apprentices started with their development program. Next year we want to continue growing, both in The Netherlands and Europe. Therefore, we need YOU!

We are looking for someone who can:

  • Develop our website, publicleadership.foundation
  • Bring our communication to the next level!

Do you:

  • Get energy from developing websites
  • Want to contribute to the MAD Movement?
  • Communicate with courage

And are you:

  • A communication-talent (to be)
  • Looking for an ambitious platform and an energetic team to work in?

Than we really would like to meet you!


Corinne Sol (+31 6 52390763) can tell you everything about the PLF and especially this position.

Rune Todnem By: We need MAD leaders!

rune-byexpertexplainsNote: A version of this text was published as a comment by PLF Chairman Rune Todnem By in The Sentinel newspaper (UK) on the 20th June 2017 under the title ‘Leadership is all about being MAD and EPIC.’


Every time there is a crisis we talk about the need for strong leadership, and since there is always a real or looming crisis we find ourselves obsessing about this topic. Often assuming that formal leaders perform ‘leadership’, we obsess about Theresa May, Mark Rutte, Barrack Obama, Donald Trump, Jose Mourinho, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and others. We obsess about our own bosses and politicians, and as on the topic of football managers many of us believe we can do a better. However, obsessing about formal leaders only takes the focus away from leadership which is not solely the responsibility of individuals at the top. Furthermore, obsessing about others only takes the focus away from you and me.

When I was two years old, James McGregor Burns suggested that although we know all too much about our leaders, we know far too little about leadership. I am now 41 and this situation has hardly changed as we continue to obsess about individuals. Either individuals we don’t want to be like, or individuals we would like to emulate. However, true leadership is no more predetermined by being like someone else than by age, gender, experience, physical stature, sexuality, nationality, level of education, income, wealth or cultural background. We don’t need a title or someone’s permission to lead. Nor do we have to be charismatic extroverts. In fact, we don’t even have to set out to be leaders in order to provide leadership. Many formal leaders don’t provide leadership, and many who do provide leadership don’t necessarily perceive themselves as leaders. All it takes – and I mean ‘all it takes’ – is for you to be you, and me to be me. All it takes is for us to step up to the responsibility of making our relationships, families, workplaces, local communities, institutions, nations and globe better than what they already are. Leadership is all about the ability and willingness to step up.

So, how do we do this? How do we ‘step up’ as Professor Rosabeth Kanter at Harvard Business School puts it? There is a whole industry out there making a good living of leadership development. Whilst scholars have used tons of published papers identifying leadership traits and categorising leadership approaches, consultants have spent hundreds of thousands of invoiced hours providing leadership advice. Still, we are no better off. Hence, I suggest that when it comes to leadership there is only one right way, and that is our own way.  Not Theresa’s, Mark’s, Barrack’s, Donald’s, Jose’s, Steve’s, or Richard’s.  Ours.

Here at the Public Leadership Foundation we are facilitating for an individual approach to identifying, developing and supporting emerging leaders. This approach can be summarised by two words: MAD and EPIC. We simply suggest that leadership is all about being MAD – Making A Difference. This is the sole purpose and key ingredient of leadership. If you are not MAD you are not a leader in our book. The way to true MADness goes through EPIC leadership. It’s about embracing and developing our individual Energy, Purpose, Identity, and Courage. It’s about knowing who and why we are. It’s about exploring who we want to be and what we want to achieve. It’s about believing in ourselves and others. It’s about challenging our very own comfort zones and taking risks.

The beauty of it is that we can all be MAD. No one has a MADness monopoly. We can all be Making A Difference to our relationships, our families, our workplaces, our local communities, our institutions, our nations, and our globe. Sometimes all that is required is a word of inspiration, support or correction. Sometimes all that is required is to start college or university. Sometimes all that is required is not to litter. Sometimes all that is required is to take on the responsibility of making something happen. To stop talking and start doing.  If we want cleaner streets, let’s clean them up. If we want better education for our children, let’s educate them. If we are not happy at work, look for alternatives. And, if we don’t agree with our politicians, let’s create change.

However, too often we decide to moan and abdicate from the responsibility of Making A Difference… We like to moan as much as the next, but moaning for more than five minutes a day makes us worse than those we moan about. Let’s take back control of our lives and futures. Let’s make sure there is only one side to our beds before getting up in the morning, and that is the right side. What is essential for our individual wellbeing and leadership responsibility is to take control. Imagine there are three circles. One inside of the other. The inner circle represents what we can control as individuals and groups. The middle circle represents what we can influence. The outer circle represents all that we can’t currently control or influence. There is of course no point moaning for too long about the weather being too cold or too hot, because we don’t have divine powers. There is no point in worrying about ever-declining hairlines or wrinkles. Doing so will not as if by magic make the hair grow back or the wrinkles to vanish. So, let’s focus on areas where we can make a decision or influence someone else’s. Let’s focus on growing these two inner circles of control and influence.

When talking about leaders, we are referring to leadership. When talking about leaders, we are referring to you. So, when we are saying “We need MAD leaders!”, what we really mean is that we need you, Making A Difference.

MAD2017 – delayed

For the third consecutive year the Public Leadership Foundation organises the annual MAD event. Due to logistic difficulties unfortunately we have to change the date of the MAD event 2017. This means that it will not take place at the 7th of September. However, we cannot wait to meet you all and to discuss the future of public leadership with you! Therefore we will soon announce a new date for MAD2017 on this website. We will keep you updated!


The purpose of the MAD event is to bring people together so that we can connect and learn from each other. The event is all about getting inspired to be MAD – Make A Difference – in our lives, institutions, and society as a whole.

The annual MAD event with its great diversity of themes, connections and networks coming together is at the very core of what we do as a Foundation. With a focus on students and young professionals from all sectors, MAD 2017 will be all about connecting and inspiring people to be MAD. Our intention is to kindle the fire in people so that we will all Make A Difference in our lives, jobs and networks. Will you join us and start Making A Difference in 2017?

Who is this for?
MAD 2017 is for everyone who is willing to Make A Difference. We believe in cross fertilisation of ideas and cross boundary thinking. Students can learn from professionals and vice versa. If you want to contribute let us know!

What’s in it for you as an individual and/or as an organisation?
You will get inspired by influential speakers and fellow MAD people. Through often surprising conversations with new people you may be influenced and motivated to make even more of a difference in your life.

Will you join us and start making a difference in 2017? We will soon announce a new date for MAD2017 on this website (By the way; there will be no entrance fee, because inspiration is for free).

Generation research update

In the meantime we’ve made much progress with the generation research. We’ve been very busy with the preparation of the first focus groups, which are planned on May 18th. These focus groups aim to give insight into each generation’s motives, incentives and drives. During the focus groups we will examine the extent to which members of each generation identify with an outlined generational profile. With our research we approach careers as being a dynamic social constructs, which means that during the focus groups we emphasize each individual’s interpretation and active fulfillment of their work values. After May 18th we will continue with organizing more focus groups and interviews, which will be all about exposing intergenerational tensions and similarities in the public sphere, as well as collecting good practices. All in all we are very excited to get started and discover our first findings!

Example & Accelerate

Example & Accelerate. An example where language shows us that some topics are remember more strongly when the same tone is used twice. As is the word EPIC, which shows as another function of language because the word itself has meaning but at the same time it means more than the word itself. EPIC speaks to the mind as is the EPIC apprenticeship itself.

You can let your imagination run wild, own initiative and ideas can be brought up and are stimulated. Wherever your imagination brings you in regard to your development goals, in consultation with the team everything is possible. For who does not know the meaning of EPIC beyond the word, it stands for Energy; Purpose; Identity and Courage. Capacities which will make sure that you can contribute to contemporary society. My own purpose has brought me to this apprenticeship, because I wanted to take the opportunity to develop myself. At every corner there is a challenge, a challenge which I hope one day to solve by experience and making a difference.

What are my goals? With help of a personal plan for development you get the opportunity to put on paper what your personal goals in live are. Further, we discuss and talk about this within the team. You will see that putting things on paper is making a difference already, because you are getting aware of your own ambitions and your own pitfalls. The EPIC Apprenticeship teaches me to be aware of my own capacities and therefore my own development goals.

This are meaningful lessons which I directly put into practice. As the foto shows I had the chance to meet one of the most inspiring people in Dutch society; the CEO of Schiphol. A man, who in my opinion, has one of the most interesting and dynamic job within the Netherlands. During this meeting I directly implemented one of the lessons which I had learned during the apprenticeship. First, being aware of the situation which I was in. Who was I speaking to and what was an appropriate way of behaviour? Next I try to remain calm and relaxed by using my body language and choosing my words carefully. This in combination with a normal dose of enthusiasm of course! But, the difference is that I now know to adjust myself in accordance with the environment and people around me.

This type of lessons seems small, but are crucial in contemporary society. With help of this learning experience you get the chance to look in the mirror and make mistakes! Because after you are aware of them we collectively take action and help each other by improving the mistakes. I am looking forward to coming weeks, because I get the chance to improve my pitfalls with help of a coach. My coach is a man with different qualities and another personality and that makes me excited. Because of this I get the chance to accelerate and improve my own qualities. By widening my own comfort zone I get the chance to get more out of my own internship.

These lessons are also helpful for making use of chances you get along the way. Do you know what you want but are you afraid to take the chance? Or do you take the chance, but you do not know the right way? All kinds of questions can be brought in during this EPIC Apprenticeship. For everyone who wants to make a difference; be EPIC and take this chance!

Lisa van der Heijden


Also have a MAD story you would like to share? Contact us here!

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