Monique van der Borg

Head of Legal Office
Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeals, Public Prosecution Office
Netherlands Public Prosecution Service

I work as Chief Public Prosecutor, heading the legal department at one of the four courts of appeal within the national Public Prosecution Office - a demanding job with considerable responsibility within a field traditionally dominated by men. Following a reorganisation at the end of last year, I came into contact with Huib when we were taking part in a series of coaching and internal review sessions.



Things are still rather unsettled within the organisation and that makes people feel nervous. Some colleagues tend to mask their insecurity by demonstrating typical alpha-male behavior - throwing their weight around generally. I find that difficult to deal with at times. In addition, my workload has been too heavy for too long, but after the reorganisation I had to forge links with new colleagues.

So Huib crossed my path at a good moment, because I was really in need of guidance. His strength lies in his ability to identify the 'tender spots' almost right away - any chinks in the armour that could potentially lead to conflict. He skips over all the ins and outs, the content, and gets straight to the underlying emotion. He probes in an in-depth way until you get to the bottom of things, yet always acts with integrity.

Huib uses 'experiential learning' in the process; by letting you act out and really feel your emotions, you learn how to manage them better back in the workplace. In one simulation, Huib acted out the role of an alpha male, which he played right on the mark. Reliving this macho behaviour got under my skin so much ­- there were moments when I was physically breathless - that I had to raise my voice and get him to stop. But it was exactly what I needed to learn: how to create my own space in that alpha male culture and set my boundaries loud and clear. We practised how to do this step by step. An invaluable lesson, and certainly one I'll remember.

Huib also helped me find a balance between acting on intuition and 'playing the game'. How, on the one hand, you can remain close to your feelings, yet also keep an eye on the game you have to play [in any organisation] - because, just as a sailing boat has to change direction to move through an oncoming wind, so too you can reach your goal better by tacking towards it.

Much of our interaction consists of only 10 or 20 percent content, while communication and impact constitute the rest. I now take much more time to establish a connection, rather than just substantiating my arguments. I'm much more conscious of the impact I'm making, and the impact I want to make. Since my sessions with Huib, I enjoy my work and 'the game' much more again. What's more,  I've become more ambitious and have set higher goals for myself.

Monique van der Borg

Written by Jannie Regnerus, based on a telephone interview