All entries for February 2012

February 20, 2012

Follow–up on Leadership

Workshop Tutor: Mary Sage

Here's a summary of how I've been getting on with my action points

  1. I would like to learn effective techniques to get the most out of even the most quiet people.

    Having attended the leading a group project workshop we were introduced to the use of 'post-it notes' as a tool of communicating ideas in order to remove the disadvantage to those less confident in speaking. This was a useful insight into engaging everyone in a group on the same level and something that can be applied to my academic group work. I would like to learn of any further techniques like this in the following leadership meetings, to continue to get the most out of everyone in a group. Plus, the effectiveness of communication in writing was also illustrated in my role as a PGSSLC, as a letter which we submitted detailing the major course concern of assessment feedback resulted in the immediate improvement in student tutor communications relating to this, via email.


  2. I would like to implement the understanding of my preferred leadership style and Belbin roles to my continued academic group projects.

    After first being introduced to the Belbin roles in the working in a team workshop I have continued to keep this in mind when engaging in academic group work. I am very much a co-ordinator and like to keep an eye on the big picture of the task we are completing whilst also trying to provide the characteristics of a monitor evaluator which I have found so far, is usually the most neglected role. After reading week, I'm now moving into my next module and hope to carry this understanding into my next group assignment. I would also like to learn the best way, or techniques to encourage those driven by last minute deadlines to complete work sooner in the following leadership meetings.


  3. To further my understanding and empathy with others I will try to spend more time with individuals with course concerns.

    As well as spending more time talking to students with course concerns I will also try to be more active on the course facebook pages in order to encourage more discussion. To illustrate that we listen and address the students concerns we also post the minutes from our meetings and we have been surprised that students do indeed take the time to read and comment on these. This has been encouraging and to further my understanding of leadership I have been reading through the "explore and develop your leadership potential" booklet we were provided at the end of the last session.



February 16, 2012

Follow up on Working in a Team

Here's a summary of how I'm getting on with my action points

1. Try not to avoid my least preferred roles ('implementer' and 'specialist') and improve on them by working closely with these kinds of team members, in order to learn from them and make these roles more manageable.

As previously discussed, it may not be as important to improve on my least preferred roles, but I have many manageable roles which I could 'flex' into, in order to get the most out of a team environment.

2. Continue to emphasis my strengths in team work by co-ordinating, promoting discussion and exploring multiple opportunities.

To demonstrate my preferred roles and maximise the opportunities here at Warwick I have also joined the Warwick Leadership scheme where I hope to further understand my leadership style and apply this to my group work during studies, future employment and role as a PGSSLC member.

3. Understand that I will not get on with everyone or understand their methods but accept these so called 'allowable weaknesses' in order for the team to be happy and productive.

So far, this understanding has been beneficial to my studies as I'm involved in a lot of group work activities. I believe it has also been valuable in diffusing conflict and tension, nonetheless, sometimes members of the group have had to be pushed in order to maximise productivity.


Follow up on Developing Your Critical Thinking at Masters Level

Here's a summary of how I've been getting on with my action points

1. To increase the amount of material I read whilst balancing my time by using the filtering techniques described.

Whilst the structure of my course so far involves two week modules which are particularly lecture intensive, the majority of extended reading is done as research towards the essay assignment. As we move towards the end of core modules, I now have to think more in detail about my final project. This has led to an increase in the material I'm reading, and the filtering techniques described has helped to increase my productivity.

2. To not take data for granted as fact and try to critically engage with it, always ask why?

Time constraints often make this question hard to ask from every piece of information I engage with and as a result I try to stick to peer reviewed documents which are already cross referenced for validity. This will definitely become more important as I begin research towards my final dissertation project.

3. To remember that there is always more than one side to any argument and this continuum is important to understand and can be applied to strengthen the position of my own arguments in work and life.

This was most relevant to a recent submission where we were asked to argue if "Gene Therapy had come of age?" Throughout I tried to demonstrate that enthusiasm for such research will inevitability come from the scientific community and opposition will come from investors losing money where no apparent commercial returns have been established. I hope to continue to apply this understanding to my future work including my project dissertation.

 


Follow up on Effective Seminar Participation

Here's a summary of how I've been getting on with my action points

1. To remember not to allow my body to move too much when delivering presentations i.e. to stop myself from swaying as this can communicate insecurity.

The start of this term has been very busy, involving many seminar presentations, the majority of which have been a group effort. Nonetheless, my confidence in conducting myself during presentations has increased and I have found myself making less of a conscious effort to stop myself from swaying. I believe this has been reflected in the feedback I have received which explains I demonstrate a confident presentation of material.

2. To be definite in my presentation of information and questioning. Not be back down to interruption or question my right to speak.

Again the feedback from my presentations have been positive. Sometimes questioning during the presentation is encouraged and I believe I have handled this appropriately and swiftly so as not to distract from the material I'm presenting. On the other hand, I believe I could still improve my contribution to questions and discussions at the end of presentations even if to confirm my understanding as I know this can be of benefit to others as well.

3. To end clearly and present alternatives to the cliche 'are there any questions?' For example, 'I'm sure you have plenty you would like to contribute and I would be happy to hear this now.'

At the end of my presentations I have continued to make an effort to end clearly, and this point was also recently raised by a tutor in our general feedback. He explained the importance of "standing up, speaking up and then shutting up." Stressing the importance of a clear finish to a presentation to remain professional.


February 05, 2012

First entry on Leadership

Workshop Tutor: Mary Sage

Introduction

Studying for an MSc in Biotechnology, Bioprocessing and Business Management at Warwick's Life Sciences department, I decided I needed to demonstrate application of the skills employers value. This is the reason I decided to participate in the Warwick skills portfolio award and naturally the Leadership scheme as another opportunity to make the most out of my time here at Warwick University. I decided I wanted to take part to further develop and demonstrate my leadership skills in order to participate more effectively in my role as a PGSSLC and benefit my applications to managerial positions in the healthcare industry.

As an elected member of the PGSSLC representing the views of the students on my postgraduate course, it is my responsibility along with two other students to encourage our class mates to bring forward issues about the course that concern them and then forward these to the relevant staff in order to resolve them. As a group of students we take turns to chair the discussion and record minutes from the meetings. Therefore, I hope from attending this scheme I will not only understand what type of leadership style suits me, but approaches to get the most out of the people I represent.

From the first session I further developed my understanding of my preferred roles according to the Belbin self-perception profile and the importance of balancing the types of roles within a team. Furthermore, the results from the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) and dimensions we answered during the session highlighted a slight difference between my (ENFJ) Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Intuition and (ESTJ) Extraverted Thinking with Introverted Sensing.

ENFJ preferences are highly attuned to others, using empathy to quickly understand emotional needs, motivations and concerns. Their focus is supporting others and encouraging their growth. They are considered friendly persuaders who often act as catalysts, including everyone and drawing out the best in other people.

ESTJ preferences like to organise projects, procedures and people, then act to get things done. They live by a set of clear standards and expect the same of others. Therefore enjoying interaction and working with others as long as the others are responsible about meeting deadlines and completing assigned tasks.

Comparing the two, although I would prefer to complete a task step by step, building towards the deadline and maybe finishing with time to spare I understand that others operate differently and believe I have developed to accommodate different approaches to work effort. Considering this, I think ENFJ preferences are my most suited leadership style.

As a leader I would like to be:

Understanding and show empathy to others. Take the time to get to know people in order to draw the best out of them. Be inspiring, warm and strong minded and decisive when needed. Basing decisions on principles, system, overall impacts and rational assessment of outcomes. Plus, strive for harmony and a supportive environment where followers know I respect their values.


Actions

  1. I would like to learn effective techniques to get the most out of even the most quiet people. For example, to draw out opinions from our class mates concerning the course we have set up facebook pages where people can post issues from the comfort of their own home. However, this is still not entirely anonymous - therefore we could implement a feedback or petition which members of the class could sign if they agree with the issue.

  2. I would like to implement the understanding of my preferred leadership style and Belbin roles to my continued academic group projects. Although often these assignments are too short to consider effective group work in great detail I will try to asses the contribution of others and understand which approaches will get the most out of each other.

  3. In order to further my understanding and empathy with others I will also try to spend more time with individuals with course concerns to improve their confidence in bringing issues forward and illustrate that they will be listened to and addressed.

To write a follow up, go to http://go.warwick.ac.uk/skills/leadership/blog


February 01, 2012

First Entry on Leading a Group Project

Workshop tutor: Mary Sage

Date: 31-Jan-2012

Introduction

In this workshop I saw a return of some familiar faces working towards completing the portfolio award and some new. It began with a discussion on what we consider defines a project and the factors needed for a successful group project. Ideas included:

  • Leadership
  • Communication via relevant technology
  • Co-ordination/organisation/delegation
  • Commitment/motivation
  • Mutual respect/responsibility

Many of which were also relevant to similar workshops such as working in a team.

From this we then moved on to what we understood by the term leadership and what makes a good project leader? This raised a lot of interesting debate and discussion from which introduced us to Lewin's 3 leadership styles.

  1. Authoritarian - autocratic
  2. Participative - democratic
  3. Delegative - Laissez-faire

Each of these leadership styles has their respective advantages and disadvantages and the main thing I gained from this was to considered their importance as part of a continuum. Democracy of course has advantages, bringing more perspectives, understanding and experience to decision making but sometimes it is necessary for a leader to be authoritarian - in order to move projects forward and remove compromise and conflict.

Other models of leadership include Adair's action-centred leadership involving inter-related responsibilities for the task, team, individuals and Tuckman's model of group formation:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

This highlighted the often neglected first stage of forming, where a group gets to know each other. Essential to improving group dynamic and efficient task delegation to members with the most appropriate skill sets.

From my past and present experiences it is often the case that groups are too eager to dive into the task and from this workshop I will take an understanding of the importance to familiarise, plan and then establish effective 'ground rules' and targets to achieve the most from my group work. Due to time restrains the use of Gantts charts to establish timescales and milestones is not always applicable to my work, nonetheless it is an important tool to bring to future extended assignments. As a result of reflection on this workshop I plan to implement the following action points:


Action Points

  1. Remember that leadership styles operate on a continuum and recognise when and where the most appropriate style is applicable and adapt accordingly.
  2. Remember to get to know group members or at least their preferred roles, experience or skill sets.
  3. Familiarise and understand the task before delegating and setting ground rules which must be achievable and realistic.

February 2012

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