Portfolio of People Management and Leadership Dimensions

In general

Ghent University opts for an organisational culture focused on trust coupled with responsibility. Every supervisor plays a key role in helping to achieve this. That is why people management and leadership is an explicit performance area in the career of every professorial staff member.

Within a context of education, research and institutional and social engagement, each professorial staff member takes on leadership tasks and is responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and stimulating working environment and promoting the (psychosocial) well-being of the staff.

Ghent University is based on a vision of 'agile leadership . This inspiration framework elaborates on the principles of this vision.

The starting point for an agile supervisor is self-reflection. Through this self-awareness, you can develop an authentic agile leadership style. Ghent University expects each professorial staff member to reflect on their own strengths and areas for improvement and to make choices based on this. This inspiration framework offers help in this regard.

  • It provides inspiration for the qualitative description of the ambitions regarding people management and leadership (integration text):
  1. Who do I want to be as a supervisor? How do I want my colleagues to experience me? Why do I supervise? What do I believe in? What do I need as a supervisor?
  2. Which role(s) do I already take up (more often)? What do I typically do in those roles? Which roles do I want to take on more/less? How can I achieve this?
  3. How do I portray agility? How do I consider my own needs and those of my colleagues, the team and the organisation? How do I align my leadership style with this by offering sufficient trust, giving direction and connecting?
  4. What do I want to achieve in the future? What would I like to do differently?
    • It provides a vocabulary for the qualitative description of the tasks and achievements in people management and leadership (reflection report and evaluation report):

    1. What have I achieved in terms of people management and leadership in the past period? What is the effect of my leadership style? How do my colleagues, staff and students experience my leadership style? How do I know they experience me like that?
    2. How did I develop as an agile supervisor? How can I illustrate this? What was the result (or why did the result not materialise)?

    The inspiration framework is neither cumulative nor exhaustive. It serves as inspiration and should not be taken as a checklist of elements that all have to be achieved.

    The performance area of people management and leadership

    What is people management and leadership?

    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. To shape and develop people management and leadership, the following roles have been differentiated: manager, coach, leader, expert and entrepreneur. This classification is purely structural and is only meant to offer direction and tools to deal more consciously with the many tasks and responsibilities. The description of the 5 leadership roles provides an answer to the question: what does Ghent University expect from its supervisors?


    How do you interpret the roles? 

    In each of the roles, the agile supervisor has an eye for what they, every staff member, the team and the organization need, and tries to tailor the approach to this as much as possible. This is done by starting from the 3 basic attitudes: offering trust, connecting and giving direction. This is how the agile supervisor aims to enable staff to be themselves (autonomy), to build authentic relationships (connectedness) and to develop themselves (competence). In this way, the agile supervisor promotes the well-being, cooperation and performance of the staff and the team.

    Agile Leadership

    Leadership - me as a supervisor

    Is each role important?

    Each supervisor has one or more roles they are better at or in which they feel more comfortable. Ghent University’s focus on talent and diversity means that a supervisor chooses and adopts roles based on their own authenticity and the needs of the team. The priorities may vary per job level and depends on the organizational context.

    However, the emphasis on a certain role should not lead to a one-sided interpretation of people management and leadership. An agile supervisor can switch between the different roles in function of the circumstances and needs. The roles may also be distributed among the team, with all responsibilities at the team level taken up in a qualitative way. An agile leadership team is therefore a complementary leadership team, in which everyone uses their own strength(s).

    In each role, an agile supervisor and a complementary leadership team create a safe and stimulating working environment and promote the psychosocial well-being of the staff they lead.

    Development as agile supervisor

    Leadership involves quite a few challenges that rarely require a simple approach. This does not mean that you are a superhuman who solves all problems (effortlessly). Ghent University supports its supervisors and gives them the opportunity to grow in taking on their responsibilities, tailored to the job profile. Supervisors can both broaden and deepen their development. Deepening means that supervisors develop extra skills in behaviour that they are already good at. Broadening is strengthening skills that are less developed.

    Ghent University expects supervisors to invest in their personal growth through feedback, training, exchange of experience, coaching ... A wide range of training courses is on offer in order to support supervisors in their personal growth.

    Detailed description of the 5 leadership roles 


    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 a manager, you coordinate the tasks so that your colleagues, staff and students can achieve a good result.

    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 in a safe and stimulating working environment.

    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, exhibiting disrespectful behaviour…;
    • 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 explicit attention to their (psychosocial) well-being, for which you take proactive responsibility. You are accessible, empathetic and supportive. You actively build a team that works together and supports each other in a safe and stimulating work environment, in which you yourself play an exemplary role.

    A few examples:

    • Providing feedback on the staff’s strengths and areas for improvement so that they become better at their job. By extension, creating an open, stimulating work environment where employees and students dare to give feedback to each other and are open to receive qualitative feedback
    • 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 inclusive and respectful environment that provides safety for discussing wellbeing, teamwork and difficult situations
    • Taking the time for one-on-one conversations with the staff by actively listening and responding empathetically;
    • 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 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. This contributes to a safe and stimulating working environment.

    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