March 12, 2012

Follow–up on Leadership

Session 3.

Workshop Tutor: Mary Sage

Here's a summary of how I've been getting on

This meeting was split into two halves, firstly a couple of role play exercises, followed by two talks from people involved in industry and entrepreneurial leadership. To begin with, we split ourselves according to preference into two groups to perform role plays aimed at getting the most out of everyone in a group (especially the most quiet) and negotiation of deadlines to resolve conflicts. In order to follow up on one of my action points posted in my previous blogs, I joined the role play exercise to get the most out of everyone in a group. At random, we picked positions within the role play - either as group leader, group member or observer - which came with a description of what to act out in the exercise. As group leader, I had to conduct a meeting between a group of Warwick students, new to each other, and tasked with a small fund-raising project. From the description it was clear that although the team is keen and committed, the majority of members will be very quiet, one in particular will be most quiet and another will be outspoken and eager to contribute, sometimes dominating the discussion. As team leader it was my responsibility to try to get more equal involvement from everyone without coming across as too 'authoritarian' in coming to decisions or having undue influence in the final decision.

In just 10 minutes I think the overall role play was a success. To begin with, we introduced ourselves as part of an ice breaker, important in the forming of new groups. In order to encourage full participation from the less vocal members I then suggested that everyone spend a minute writing down every fund raising idea they could come up with on a piece of paper in front of them and then we would go round each member in turn so they could pitch their ideas. This is an important tool which can be used to encourage contribution from those less comfortable speaking, as well as control members who may be more vocal in discussions. Whilst listening to the contributions from each member which I engaged directly in turn, I tried to provide encouraging feedback in order to maintain and comfortable and supportive environment. I then put the ideas raised to a vote in order to democratically decide which to take forward, whilst also being able to gauge the enthusiasm and commitment within the group. Via these methods, the discussions continued, the group warmed to each other and contributions became more open. I then closed the exercise with a summary of what we had discussed and decided on, which happened to be some cake sales and a fancy dress club night in Leamington.

I felt comfortable in my position as team leader and found myself interacting as I would naturally in such an exercise. On the other hand, other members found in particularly hard to play a quiet, introverted person or even an outspoken, very vocal person, as this goes against their nature. For example, I was expecting to have to control a very outspoken person in order to let the other members feel comfortable to speak but this turned out not to be the case. Comments from the observer of the group were also positive, mentioning good use of voting and engaging group members directly in order to encourage the articulation of the ideas they had put to paper in front of them.

The main points I gained from discussion with the other group exercise involving deadlines was the importance of negotiation and balancing opinion to find a middle ground the satisfies the majority. Such negotiations and re-evaluations can occur at any point, even later into the project and it is important that those members meeting deadlines are recognised and those that fail are accountable in order to encourage ownership of tasks and not undermine the efforts of those more organised.

Following from this, we were then given the opportunity to listen to the experience and advice from two speakers involved in leadership. The first was a young multichannel manager from Boots the pharmacist, who described his first experiences of leadership when quite literally being thrown into the deep end and expected to manage a store of more than 30 employees. The main points I took from this talk, were the well structured nature of management and the guidelines provided. The importance of understanding the roles of the people you manage. As well as the importance of:

  • "listening"
  • "managing expectations"

Whilst striving to achieve targets under certain deadlines, it is important to be aware of what is manageable and how this can be achieved inside or outside of company policy and to make those in positions above you aware of this.

The second speaker was a much older, inspiring and successful entrepreneur, who had set up his own multinational fishing magazine publication from the loft conversion of his house. This was his second business, the first of which he sold for 1/10th of its value in order to purse what made him happy.

  • "be happy!"
  • "focus"

These were the two main points for success I took away from this talk, among others. In terms of leadership he explained how he disagreed with "throwing people into the deep end" as this encourages failure and reiterated the fact that in positions of leadership you will have to give people a "bollocking" from time to time. Authority and mutual respect are essential to successfully managing people. Especially if you don't like the other person, because they will no doubt have the skills that compliment your own. To summarise:

  • know yourself
  • become the people that inspire you

These are the main points I took from this session and hope to implement to my future career.

As part of my studies and role as a PGSSLC, being proactive and engaging has proved successful. Students have been comfortable to come forward with issues and even simple tasks like getting the work room printers fixed (especially on deadline days) will hopefully encouraged confidence among the others in our roles as student representatives.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Mary Sage

    A great blog entry summarising your learning from both halves of teh session and your progress to date as SSLC rep.

    Well done


    28 Mar 2012, 14:06

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