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    A polarizing society, ever-changing politics and an administrative field that is fragmented: that is the present world of Dutch mayors. These three processes have had a profound impact on local government and on the office of mayor. The position of the mayor has become vulnerable and his or her functioning is being put under a magnifying glass, sometimes leading to negative imaging and even a premature departure of mayors. More and sometimes conflicting demands are being imposed on mayors on the basis of their different tasks and responsibilities, as a result of which their positional authority has come under pressure, among other things. Based on discussions with 20 Dutch mayors, the authors of this essay present five central leadership dilemmas for mayors: (1) internal versus external connection; (2) authenticity versus adaptability; (3) involvement versus distance; (4) setting the course versus being of service; and (5) knowledge of content versus process monitoring. Coping with these leadership dilemmas also requires a different set of skills. First, the mayor must be pro-active and have a good antenna for new developments. Secondly, it is essential that he or she not only keeps in mind the short-term perspective, but also the middle-term and the long-term perspective. Thirdly, the mayor is expected to be able to combine hard and soft personality traits: just being nice is not enough.


Dr. Saniye Çelik
Dr. S. Çelik is lector Diversiteit aan de Hogeschool Leiden. Zij is gepromoveerd aan de Universiteit Leiden op het onderwerp ‘sturen op verbinden in publieke organisaties’ en is mederegisseur van het leiderschapsprogramma voor burgemeesters bij het Centre for Professional Learning van de Universiteit Leiden.

Drs. Nikol Hopman
Drs. N. Hopman is directeur van het Centre for Professional Learning van de Universiteit Leiden en verantwoordelijk voor het leiderschapsprogramma voor burgemeesters. Zij is programmadirecteur van het Certified Public Manager Program (CPM) in Europa, daarnaast betrokken bij de International Leadership Association en Guest Editor van het International Journal of Public Leadership.
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