Laurent Ledoux

The barefoot manager
Tranform organizations to transform society

Laurent Ledoux (1966)travelled, lived and worked in so many countries that it would be difficult to mention them all. In summary, Laurent travelled around the world to acquire knowledge about the different ways of living, to learn seven languages and transformed organisations always with the objective of increasing their impact on society.

This “barefoot manager” has worked for important firms, banks, public institutions and NGOs while developing a very unique management philosophy, driven by the reading and meeting of important philosophers.

He speaks French, Dutch, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and has a good basis of Russian.

Thirst for independence

Born in Leuven, Laurent Ledoux grew up in a small town near Namur with four siblings. At a very young age, Laurent wants some independence and asks his parents to go to Maredsous Abbey boarding school. Laurent was then nine years old. Living in a community is what he likes. “We did a lot of sport. There were people from all around the world: Irish, Dutch, Congolese, etc.”
When, at the age of ten, a friend tells him that he wants to be a doctor, Laurent says: “I also want to be a doctor, but not for people, for companies.”

Laurent’s desire for independence is far from being over. At the age of twelve, he spends three months in an Irish family. Then, thanks to his girlfriend’s father lives in Congo, Laurent works there over summer. And so on. At the age of sixteen, he goes to the United States to spend his last year of high school. “My host family lived in a ranch in California, there were plenty of animals, a lot of manual work to do and every day at school was fun.”

Linguistic experiences

Very young, Laurent wanted to learn languages and discover new cultures and ways of living. Even at university, Laurent didn’t follow a traditional route: He applied for courses taught in Dutch at the University of Leuven but then did a Bachelor in Economics in Spain and a Master in Italy.
During holydays, he works as a volunteer in Congo, Nicaragua, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

50 countries

This desire for exploring won’t stop, even when Laurent starts his professional career. Consequently, for his first job, he goes to Mozambique and work for Doctors Without Borders as a financial and administrative officer. After that, he will work around Europe and especially in Eastern European countries where he manages projects of restructuration and privatization on behalf of the European Commission.

During his studies and professional career, Laurent Ledoux travelled, studied and worked in more than fifty countries. The most important lesson for him was to have learnt “to live in other cultures, see the world from a different point of view. This is my greatest assent, after my family.”
To relax, Laurent listens to jazz, does a lot of sport (jogging, cycling, tennis) and meet philosophers through seminars he organises for the association he is in charge of.

The societal need as a priority

Laurent Ledoux runs his career “without any specific plan but with always with a common thread: understand and help organisations that have a societal impact.” To this end, he works in both public and private sector, between banks like ING or BPN Paribas Fortis or in major institutions like the European Commission or today as chairman of the Ministry for Mobility.
For Laurent, both sectors are expected to change radically to meet contemporary societal challenges and have a lot to learn from each other.

Profit is not the essence

Laurent’s strongest conviction: profit maximization should not and is not in essence the primary purpose of a business. Whereas profit is obviously essential, the primary objective should be to help meet societal needs, while help creating a working environment in which employees are able to grow and thrive, for themselves and not just for the purposes of the company.

The establishment of such working environments is what motivates Laurent. A few of his colleagues call him “The barefoot manager” as he often walks without his shoes; it is “a way of being connected with the ground, a legacy of my stay in Africa.”

Yes, Laurent Ledoux has his foot on the ground. No doubt that with such a career and vision of the world, he has many lessons to pass on.

The released company: how to prepare as a leader?

Entrepreneurs, HR, Corporate Culture, Leadership, Strategy, Management, Motivation, Topmanagers, Socially responsible Entrepreneurship

There is a lot of talk around enterprise 2.0: more collaborative, less hierarchical; in a word, relieved. Though, there is little talk about the personal transformation that business leaders must realize for such a transformation to succeed.
This conference or seminar offers an approach to initiate such a personal transformation.

Intelligence of nature: can it transform traditional management?

Entrepreneurs, HR, Corporate Culture, Leadership, Strategy, Management, Motivation

Most of our problems come from the gap between our way of thinking and the way nature functions.” (Gregory Bateson, philosopher and ethnologist). Based on this observation, the seminar aims to question the nature and discuss the lessons we can learn from it to better manage our companies and institutions. The conference does so with a philosophical and critical method; thus without considering nature as a new ideal model.

But damn, who is responsible? Think about Corporate Social Responsibility

Entrepreneurs, Globalisation, Leadership, Strategy, Management, Socially responsible Entrepreneurship

While globalisation seems to increase corporations’ power, at the same time, it reduces states capacity to control them. This new distribution of power seems to imply a redefinition of responsibilities.

Is the sole mission of a company to make profit or should it assume other duties towards its employees, the environment and states that host them? What is the nature of these responsibilities: moral, legal or political? How can they be implemented and by who? Where do my personal responsibilities start and stop? How should I exercise them?

What kind of management for tomorrow’s society?

Belgium, International, Globalisation, Globalisation, HR, Corporate Culture, Leadership, Strategy, Management, Socially responsible Entrepreneurship, Philosophy, Spirituality, Religion

Our companies are facing strong upheavals. Would not it be naïve to think that we could deal with them without even questioning the methods of thinking and management that help implementing them? To face the unknown with confidence, to create a future we want rather than suffer a future we fear, isn’t it urgent to question our models, identify relevant questions to draft alternatives to these models and approaches?
To assist us in this process, who to call if not the philosophers whose research may shed new light on our management practices?

A leadership with no easy answer

Leadership, Strategy

Let’s think about tomorrow’s leadership. Through practical case studies inspired by Ronald Heifetz (Harvard), this conference aims to help participants to adopt a style of leadership that mobilizes teams to take initiatives and support themselves rather than merely following those they think they should follow.

The ethical imagination:

Leadership, Strategy, Socially responsible Entrepreneurship

The ethical imagination: how do moral dilemmas reveal who we really are and how are they crucial for modern managers?
Through practical case studies inspired by Joseph Badaracco (Harvard), this conference aims to help participants become more aware of the ethical dilemmas that their organisations may face and address them as opportunities instead, as much on a personal level than on an organizational one.

Philosophy: the best friend of the manager?

Business & Management, HR, Corporate Culture, Leadership, Strategy, Management, Philosophy, Spirituality, Religion

Given the deep crisis of modern capitalism, philosophers are increasingly called upon to help rethink the foundations of our economic system and our management methods.
This conference addresses the lessons managers can learn from reflections with philosophers and what philosophy as a whole can benefit from thinking about management. More than ever, our society requires the establishment of a constructive dialogue between philosophers and managers.

Change management: how to start the "relief" of your organization?

Creativity, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

The "relief" of organizations following the principles of Getz, Laloux, Semler or Bakke attracts more and more organizations. Laurent Ledoux has implemented these principles successfully at a major bank, and now does the same with an administrative public service of more than 1000 civil servants. In this conference or seminar you will become familiar with the fundamental principles of the "relief" of a company through practical examples. It is also an opportunity to think about the best way to get the dynamics of change in your own organization going, a dynamic that will encourage your staff to take initiative.

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Languages of the keynote
English, French, Dutch