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Janka Stoker and Harry Garretsen | Faces of FEB

The Faculty of Economics and Business is a diverse faculty full of bright people. But who are these people? In the column ‘Faces of FEB' we connect with different students and staff at the faculty to give readers a peek into their worlds. This week: leadership experts Professor Janka Stoker and Professor Harry Garretsen about the impact of the current COVID crisis.

Professor Janka Stoker
Professor Janka Stoker
Professor Harry Garretsen
Professor Harry Garretsen

Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your roles at FEB?

Janka: I am currently a professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at FEB, and director of the Centre of Expertise In the LEAD.

Harry: I am currently a professor of International Economics & Business at FEB, and director of the Centre of Expertise In the LEAD.

You’re both giving a speech at the ceremony for the Opening of the Academic Year FEB 2021-2022. The theme is Leadership in Times of Crisis. Could you tell us how the current crisis has affected you personally and professionally?

Janka: Personally, it affected me just like many other FEB colleagues: I had to work from home, teach online, and deal with combining work with my family live - I have two kids at high school who also had to 'work from home'. Professionally, I think one of the advantages of the current crisis is that it allowed us to study the relationship between leadership and crises - again! This has been a relevant theme for our Centre for several years now. So, notwithstanding the terrible and devastating effects of this major health crisis, such a pandemic is also an opportunity for leadership scholars like ourselves.

Harry: Like everyone at FEB, I was suddenly forced to work from home in March 2020. This change went along with interesting new experiences like online teaching and (a lot of) online meetings, but on the whole it was certainly not a change for the better for me. Things that I normally took for granted as simply 'being there", like seeing and meeting colleagues and students were sorely missed during the various lockdown episodes! It is also for this reason that I look forward to the new academic year where at least for now there will a return to some 'normality'. Professionally, the COVID-19 crisis turned out to offer interesting new avenues for leadership and in particular for research into impact of crisis on leadership behavior. Purely from a research perspective the current crisis turned out be rather inspiring!

Do you have any advice for students and staff navigating study and work during these difficult times?

Janka: On the basis of my own research I have an advice for leaders. The context is crucial for the leadership effectiveness, and a crisis is a very specific context. It is therefore recommended to regularly ask for feedback on your leadership behaviors from employees, not only to understand how they perceive your leadership behaviors, but also to get information about the leadership behaviors that they need from you during these times.

Harry: Yes, crises like the current one make you realise that you do not operate or function in a vacuum. To prosper as a staff member or student, it is not just your own skills and motivation that matter, always be aware that the context or environment in which you have to work or study matters a great deal as well. So try to find out in which working or professional context you will really thrive.

Last modified:06 September 2021 4.33 p.m.