Dutch civil service chooses Berenschot for senior management leadership training

Published on 5 August 2019

The Dutch civil service has asked Berenschot to develop a leadership training programme for its senior managers. The briefing was that the training programme must reflect the level and influence of the target group.  At the same time it must fit seamlessly with other high-quality training courses for civil servants. In response, Berenschot developed the two-day HEAT approach to support these senior public sector managers in their leadership challenge.

Senior civil servants interact every day with many different actors, each with their own interests and agendas. It’s important for these senior managers to work effectively on their own goals within these relationships, so it’s essential that they follow certain principles: not just knowing that they are in the right, but convincing others that they are in the right while at the same time working to enhance trust and improve relationships with their partners. Which is why the Dutch civil service (known as ‘Bureau ABD’ in Dutch) requested a dedicated training programme for public sector leaders. The goals are to raise participants’ awareness of the effects of their own influencing style on partners and train them to move beyond their preferred influencing styles to deploy a variety of influencing styles to better effect.

Confrontational approach

In response to this request Berenschot developed the HEAT approach, which stands for ‘High Intensity, Existential, Adaptation Training’. “The ABD target group consists of very experienced people. They work in senior positions and are certainly not novices when it comes to influencing skills. At the same time it’s important to point out that many professionals within the ABD feel very comfortable when dealing with substantive aspects,” explains Tim Masselink, senior advisor at Berenschot. “Our vision is that those personal ‘influencing comfort zones’ only show through when people are under pressure, be it time pressure, emotional pressure or other tensions. Which is why we chose a confrontational approach for the training. The main idea is to focus on specific experience, reflection and experimentation. For instance, participants discover how to make strategic preparations for collaboration with different partners. In this case it’s not just a matter of possessing a range of influencing skills: participants need to know how to deploy them in parallel from a strategic perspective.” The first training sessions started in autumn 2019.


Tim Masselink-klein

Tim Masselink

Senior consultant