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Ton Keunen on leadership: "Everything you need is already inside you"

'Bring out your best': with that phrase, Brout was born, which – as of 27th of June 2024 - will be part of Zorg van de Zaak. Over the past six years, the company has shown impressive growth figures. How? By choosing for awareness. Going Brout', that's what it's called. Because awareness is where leadership begins. That’s why Brout guides organizations in taking back control. With development programs, coaching and training at individual, team and organizational level.

uitsnede met logo Ton Keunen op kantoor
Ton Keunen

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Founder and chief visionary officer Ton Keunen succinctly summarizes the underlying philosophy: "Everything you need is already inside you. We take it out."

"We help people make intrinsic change."

Several years ago, Ton made a decision: in the field of leadership, he wanted to make a difference for one million people. "As a self-employed person, I had spent years dealing with HR and change processes," he says. "During that time, I discovered that everything in an organization stands or falls with leadership. You only achieve results if that is in order. That is why I started training people. And so the desire arose to help people in this area."

The number "one million" might be a dot on the horizon, but Ton keeps accurate track of the numbers. A physical counter has been set up at Brout's office, currently indicating that 147,000 people have attended a training.

Start-ups, corporates, councils, entrepreneurs: Brout's clients are diverse. They are attracted by the unique concept, which goes far beyond the average leadership training. "We help people bring about intrinsic change," says Ton. "You don't do that by just giving a training course. We really guide people from theory to practice. And we help them understand where their behavior comes from. We look at what role they have assumed from their system of origin. Did you used to have a sick family member? Then there's a good chance that you're taking on a caring role in the organization you’re working of. But sometimes that is not the best choice from an organizational point of view. However, you can only change if you first know what causes your behavior."

When people understand that, it is time to look at the impact they make: "You always have a choice. You think things happen to you, but change is something you can achieve yourself. And if you want to change course, you need to do it too."

"We take history with us as we innovate."

Ton Keunen achter laptop 4kant

Brout's approach is characterized by experience first, label later. That sometimes takes a bit of creativity. Ton gives an example: "We once worked with an organization where people had a very restrictive mind set. The goal was to work better together. We erected a large inflatable castle in front of our building - in such a way that everyone who wanted to enter had to go through the castle together first. That way people were 'forced' to experience working together in a fun way."

Brout's office, by the way, is interesting in it self. In early 2022, the company moved into an impressive mansion. Ton: "The advisory board had advised against this because it would be old-fashioned. But I was stubborn. To renew ourselves, we must first go back to old. I am convinced of that. This building dates from 1637. Isn't it great to build on such a ground full of wisdom? We take that history with us as we innovate!"

You can tell that Ton’s not your average leader when you see his title: 'chief visionary officer'. A variation on CEO? "No," says Ton. "I was the CEO for a while, but that just doesn't suit me. I'm a founder with a strong vision, but it's much better for everyone if someone else executes that vision. That's why I handed over the position to Annelies den Boer, our current CEO. She’s taking on the leadership of our company. I come up with ideas and provide training on the subject. That way we all do what we do best."

"We think a good transition from theory to practice is important."

According to Ton, the principle of blended learning fits perfectly with Brout's working method: "We think a good transition from theory to practice is important. LearningStone helps us build the bridge. For example, we share assignments through the platform. But also articles and leadership models so that participants can reference them. In the context of Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve, that’s important: you have to repeat information to make sure it sticks."

Why LearningStone? "It's very simple and it’s really great to work with," says Ton. "In addition, you can set up the environment based on your own look-and-feel and you can use it for communication as well . LearningStone really stimulates contact with participants. This is a blended-learning platform that contributes 100 percent to our strategic goals!"

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