In this interview, we talk with Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen, a businesswoman from The Netherlands. She recently stepped down as Chairman of the Executive Board of Aon Holdings. She tells about her journey to her current position and her interest in supporting and encouraging women in leadership roles. She emphasizes the importance of trust in her career success and the success of the organizations she has led. Trust is particularly significant in the insurance industry, where she started her career, as it is based on the principle of ultimate good faith. Marguerite explains that building trust involves logic, empathy, and authenticity. She believes that trust is crucial in relationships and leadership and highlights the role of trust in women’s leadership.
The interview also discusses a study that suggests women are less prone to losing trust and more likely to regain trust even after repeated transgressions. Marguerite attributes this to women’s optimism and relationship-driven nature. However, she notes that personal experiences and the frequency of trust violations can influence individual responses.
When it comes to balancing trust and empathy with making sound business decisions, Marguerite mentions the importance of trust but verify approach. She emphasizes the need to gather all relevant information, maintain competence and confidence, and have realistic self-awareness. Building trust with underrepresented groups requires leaders to foster an inclusive and belonging culture. In her former role at Aon Holdings, trust is vital in providing risk and insurance solutions to clients. We talk about a recent report on sexually transgressive behavior in a TV show and the importance of independent and unbiased investigations to maintain trust. She offers advice to young women aspiring to leadership roles in underrepresented industries, the importance of continuous learning, asking questions, making oneself visible, and believing in oneself.
Trust But Verify
So I’ve learned to trust but verify, which is a quote of Warren Buffett. And Warren Buffett always also said, I like this one, as soon as the tide comes out, you can see who’s been swimming naked, so seriously looking at trust-but-verify, making sure that you put all the facts together, as many as you can, based on which you actually provide a meaning and then form an opinion. For me, it’s always been about we already mentioned competence, but it’s about having a nice balance between competence and confidence in this respect, whereby also you have some realistic self-awareness and self-reflection, you know, I always say I strive for perfection, but I settle for excellence and think back to trust in relationships or I’ve always looked at long term relationships, which is interesting to know today in this world where a lot of people, especially young people, move jobs every two years.
Success in the Workplace
if you look at high-performing teams, mutual trust is one of the key elements of having a high-performing team and that of course, drives results and drives growth. Other elements of high-performing teams are good communications, you know, internal support, clear goals, effective leadership, negotiating skills, etcetera. But what’s really important is that back to the internal support, if you have a team, you need to make sure that you actually not only have a diverse team in respect of gender or generations or bicultural or disabilities, but you need to have a team which represents diversity of trust and opinion. And if you provide trust as a leader to your team, they will be able to give you that diversity of thought and opinion, and that allows you to have effective and balanced decision-making. So it’s really important to make sure that trust is a key element of how you relate. And that mutual trust is built and, you know, as Doug Conant said, Severin, you can only be successful in the marketplace if you’re successful in the workplace first.