Together We Build Dreams
I have the feeling that I have something to tell. […] I hope that my learned lessons can help others to stand up and take their role too.
To begin with, please tell us a little about yourself.
Marijke Fleuren: “I am from a warm family with 5 children (3 girls, 2boys). We all played hockey and tennis. Noisy kitchen table. We all had to participate in the household, washing dishes, cooking, etc.
My husband and I have tried to copy that in our own life. Seems to work out well! All children (also in law) play hockey, as do my grandchildren. Still quite a noisy Christmas table! Study is important for all of them. They are educated to take care of the people around. Our main value.”
Can you tell us about your “Why” and how you came to leadership position?
MF: “It is a mixed story. I started to be a person who was enjoying life enormously, not really taking up roles. Getting grown up, I started to take the lead, after being surprised that some leaders seemed to miss real interest in others. I thought that my people deserved a more emphatic person.”
What is it you want to achieve and what made you decide on your professional and personal pathway?
MF: “For me it is important to think in solutions. So many people are always complaining; someone has to act differently.
My slogan is: I like to hear what is possible, not what is impossible.
I don’t think that I really took a decision to become a leader, except when I was standing for president.
The other roles were more a logical consequence of things I was doing and how I was performing. Sport in general got the best out of me. The companionship, the joy, the laughter: Lovely!”
How do you achieve your goals and keep up with the fast-changing society?
MF: “Sport is a part of society. So you have to be informed about what is going on around you. As a leader you have to be proactive.
You can overcome barriers by acting together, by having good relations, interest in others, listening to them.
But I know that in the end I have to make the decision.”
Who inspires you? And why?
Marijke Fleuren: “Angela Merkel has inspired me. To take care for the refugees. I know all the comments, but she understood that she couldn’t leave them alone. Thomas Bach has inspired me by the way he is supporting women. He is a real HeforShe advocate. My husband inspires me, because of the way he listens to our children. The real connection. Fantastic to see.”
What kind of resources has proven to be the best help throughout your journey ? And where did you find them?
MF: “Humor has helped me the best and secondly: good preparations.
Of course you need to have intellectual and emotional capacities. You have to be able to decide your priorities and you must be interested in people.
I act as a leader by example, by being interested, by summarising the topics during a meeting, by giving a clear point of view, by giving speeches. In these speeches I always try to involve the bigger picture. To take into account more than only your own point of view is key.”
When did your leadership story begin and where is it now?
MF: “I think that it started at my 30th year of age. That was the moment I started to be the in parents representation at the school of my children, followed by all kinds of roles in my hockey club, district and so on.
Now I am a president, an International Hockey Federation (FIH) Executive Board member and member of the IOC “Women in Sport” Commission. I am a partner of SWinG, an independent chair of an election committee of Dutch Athletics, speaker on many occasions etc. I have the feeling that I have something to tell.
My roles are a sum of my education at university and of everything I have learned in life. I hope that my learned lessons can help others to stand up and take their role too.”
What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome in your election journey? How did you overcome it?
MF: “Honesty. To get the real opinion of people. In sports, everybody wants to be friends/friendly.
I overcome it by trying to get such a majority that in the end I could afford to miss some votes.
My election speech was about my head and my heart. I promised to use my head to run the business, but my heart to give people a chance.”
Finally, what words of advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Marijke Fleuren: “Stay near to yourself. Listen to your feelings. They are right!
Take your time.”
Do you want to know more about the SWinG project? Have a look here.