Portfolio of People Management and Leadership Dimensions

In general

The new career policy for professorial staff explicitly includes dimensions of people management and leadership. Ghent University thus confirms the importance and the impact of good leadership. However, leadership does not stand alone, but is operationalized in educational tasks, research tasks and institutional and societal engagement. Therefore, this portfolio complements the portfolios for research and education dimensions. The career policy for professorial staff invites every professorial staff member to reflect on his or her own strengths and areas for improvement (through self-reflection and feedback) and make choices based on this.

The foundations for this portfolio can be found in Ghent University’s vision on leadership and the description of the leadership roles.

  • This portfolio provides inspiration for the qualitative and substantiated description of the ambitions regarding people management and leadership (in the integration text):
    • Which role(s) do I already take up (more often)? What gives me energy?
    • What do I want to achieve in terms of people management and leadership in the coming years? Which roles do I want to take up more / less? What do I want to do more often and what do I want to do differently? In which role(s) do I want to become stronger? What is the effect of this on my colleagues, staff and / or students?
  • <spaThis portfolio provides a vocabulary for describing the achievements in people management and leadership (in the reflection report and the evaluation report):

    • What have I achieved in terms of people management and leadership in the past period? In which roles have I grown? How can I illustrate this? How have my colleagues, staff and students experienced this? What did not have the expected result?

The suggestions below are neither cumulative nor exhaustive. This portfolio is meant as inspiration only and should not be construed as a checklist of objectives which must all be achieved.

Dimensions of people management and leadership

What can people management and leadership consist of?

Leadership at Ghent University comprises a wide range of responsibilities, commitments, skills and competencies. Supervisors often struggle with the multitude of tasks and the tension between them: control versus trust, guiding versus coaching, individual versus team, and so on. To shape and develop people management and leadership, the following roles have been differentiated: manager, coach, leader, expert and entrepreneur. This classification is purely structuring and is only meant to offer direction and tools to deal more consciously with the many tasks and responsibilities. Moreover, certain elements fit into more than one role.

Is each role important?

Everybody has one or more roles in which he or she feels more comfortable or stronger. Ghent University’s focus on talent and diversity means that a professorial career can lead to a deepening of one or more of these roles. The priorities may vary per job level and depending on the organizational context. For example, setting operational deadlines and enforcing procedures are mostly tasks that are part of the role as manager, while giving feedback fits in better with the role as coach.

However, focusing on a certain role must not result in a one-sided interpretation of people management and leadership. For instance, taking up the guidance of young researchers only in the role of expert is not in line with Ghent University’s vision of leadership. It is essential that a good supervisor also takes on the role of coach.

Development in the role

Leadership involves quite a few challenges which rarely require a simple approach. It does not mean that you are a superbeing who effortlessly solves all problems. Ghent University wants to support its supervisors and give them the opportunity to grow in taking up their responsibilities. In this respect, supervisors can choose to become even better in a role which they naturally like and are good at (deepening) or they can choose to stretch themselves and work on taking on a less developed role (broadening). Ghent University encourages professorial staff members to invest in their personal growth through feedback, training and coachingoverview training programmes.



As a manager, you coordinate the tasks so that your colleagues, staff and students can achieve a good result (together).
You run the research group / department / faculty / study programme by properly planning and organizing everything. You delegate, set priorities, evaluate, adjust where necessary and bear the ultimate responsibility for the optimal deployment of people, time and resources.

A few examples:

  • Clarifying and discussing the mutual expectations within collaborative relationships;
  • Encouraging the staff to take initiative and responsibility with regard to the commitments made;
  • Making clear commitments on the time frame and the reporting of the results;
  • Dividing the tasks among the staff in consultation with them, taking into account workload, individual talent and preferences

  • Setting priorities within tasks for yourself and for the staff (based on importance and urgency);
  • Taking up responsibility and addressing the staff for non-compliance with the commitments made;
  • Following up on results while keeping a balance between trust and control;


As a coach, you guide your colleagues, staff and students so that they grow in taking up their responsibilities.
You provide feedback, enter into a dialogue and look for solutions together. You stimulate development by creating learning opportunities and focusing on talent. You pay attention to their well-being, for which you actively take your responsibility. You are accessible, empathetic and supportive. You actively build a team that works together and supports each other.
  • Providing feedback on the staff’s strengths and areas for improvement so that they become better at their job;
  • Finding complementarity in the team taking into account the results to be achieved;
  • Proactively discussing career opportunities and career advancement (within and outside of Ghent University) with the staff and providing support;
  • Encouraging the staff and students to self-reflect so that they become self-steering when it comes to solving problems;
  • Creating an open feedback culture by encouraging the staff and students to give each other feedback and be open to receiving feedback yourself;
  • Taking the time for one-on-one conversations with the staff, during which their well-being is also discussed, using active listening and empathetic response;
  • Taking up an active role in strengthening the sense of belonging to the group (e.g. celebrating successes together and organizing informal team gatherings);


As a leader, you give direction to your colleagues, staff and students so that strategic and (educational and research) policy objectives can be achieved.
You motivate by means of an inspiring future objective, to which you link individual ambitions. You create involvement and collaboration through, amongst others, participation and transparent communication. You take up your responsibility and make (difficult) decisions.

A few examples:

  • Developing a strategy for the research group / department / study programme (together with the staff) in line with the faculty / university: Why are we doing this? What do we stand for? What is our objective?;
  • Linking operational decisions to this strategy;
  • Taking action so that the vision is supported and translated into the concrete work situation;
  • Defining common values together with colleagues ​​and making commitments so that these are respected;
  • Acting as a role model: exercising an exemplary role in, for example, Open Science;
  • Taking up responsibility with regard to the research and education policy of the faculty / university;
  • Representing the university in the societal debate and contributing to the public image of the institution;


As an entrepreneur, you actively promote innovation, taking initiative and creativity so that opportunities with a possible added value for the university / faculty / department are made use of.
You know how to acquire funding for research, set up new collaborations and generate new, useful ideas. You make risky decisions, dare to make mistakes and learn from them. You look for opportunities within and outside of the university by actively making use of your network.

A few examples:

  • Actively searching for academic research funding: applying for project funding and acquiring funds;
  • Encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and high-risk research;
  • Transferring research results outside of the academic context;
  • Initiating collaborations with external partners (industry, government, interdisciplinary programmes, etc.) on research projects;
  • Taking the lead in a spin-off process or academic organization;
  • Investing in networking opportunities for yourself and sharing this network with your staff;


As an expert, you actively use your professional knowledge and stimulate knowledge sharing among your colleagues, staff and students.
As an expert, you help others on their way to obtaining, for instance, a doctorate or funding. You actively safeguard principles such as those of ethical research and scientific integrity.

A few examples:

  • Sharing expertise (information, knowledge, documentation, insights) with your staff and students, tailored to their needs;
  • Supporting researchers, lecturers and students in their individual growth process towards being autonomous and critical researchers / lecturers / students;
  • Adequately guiding doctoral students as an experience expert on the doctoral process;
  • Providing tailor-made guidance for students as an experience expert on the Bachelor's and Master's dissertation;
  • Sharing important developments and trends within the own research / education field and familiarizing others with the different information channels;

Portfolio of people management and leadership dimensions