Carl Haspels, founder and CEO of Aircargo.nl, argues that the most effective leadership approach is to be anti-leadership. An entrepreneur since he was 19, Carl believes that companies function at their best when their teams, partners, and customers are expected to participate in a culture of accountability.
Carl has always resisted doing what others tell him to do. His strong will has fuelled both his entrepreneurialism and, perhaps surprisingly, his leadership style.
Carl believes in anti-leadership. He explains that this means there is not just one leader in the company telling everyone else what to do. For Carl, anti-leadership indicates a shared understanding that everyone in the company is responsible for its success.
This culture of responsibility and accountability can exist because Carl vigilantly practices open communication — and he relies on his team to do so too.
Trust Your Gut
Carl recognizes there is a balance between his aversion to having a boss and his company’s need to grow. He maintains this balance by making decisions in a split second. It may sound counterintuitive, but his rationale is rooted in truth.
[14:35] “The first thought you have is always a good one.”
It’s easy to get caught in analysis-paralysis when you dedicate lots of time to making decisions. However, it is important to be prudent, even if you need to decide quickly. Carl provides some wisdom here: If your first reaction is doubt or not a strong “yes,” say “no.”
And if you do end up making a poor decision, remember to approach it with perspective.
[19:01] “You can always solve problems.”
Praise Your Employees
One problem that needs to be solved as quickly as possible, Carl says, is the tendency to manage employees one-dimensionally.
[21:16] “Nobody is the same, so you can’t manage everybody the same way. No way. And a good manager is a good coach.”
When you treat a top performer the same as an average employee, you fail to acknowledge their hard work and skills. Praising your employees’ unique gifts and talents is essential if you want them to remain loyal and engaged. Top performers leave when they don’t feel recognized.
Carl welcomes the opportunity to let go and delegate. He looks at his company’s numbers every day and this gives him the peace of mind he needs to be able to hand over responsibility.
He says if you’re afraid things will get off-track without you, that could be a sign that you don’t have the right people in place.
[25:00] “If you have good people around you and you have . . . the figures where you can check if [business] is going really good…yeah, you can let it go. It’s not easy . . . but in the end if you want to grow, you have to let go.”
Carl strikes a chord here: If you have the right people you can let go. Hire employees who share your vision and values and are passionate about their work.
Carl shares advice for young — and stubborn — entrepreneurs: Finish school and recognize that there are lots of people who want to help you — and help is free. All you need to do is accept it.
- Aircargo.nl’s website