All 4 entries tagged P8 Portfolio

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January 29, 2012

Final summary of Leadership section

Follow-up to Follow Up 2 from Matt's blog

So here we are, at my final post for the leadership section of the Skills Portfoli!

The skills that I have learned here, through planning how to lead a group project, as well as general skills that can be applied to other areas of life, I think will be useful as I continue through life. I have learned that leadership oppertunities come in all shapes and sizes, and although I am not seeing many clear-cut situations in which to lead a group of people in the formal sense, I can apply the skills to other areas of my life, and these work equally well! For example, setting checkpoints was one of the things I learned in the original seminar, and I am applying this to all my work, hence effectively "leading myself" through it, in a structured way. Furthermore, I really think that through reflecting on social situations, I'm becoming more of an assertive person (another seminar I attended), with regard to looking for circumstances in which I can take charge and make a difference (something which I would rarely do before; leaving these kinds of things to other people was something I was often guilty of!)

I have decided to leave the leadership scheme until next year, when I hopefully have some more clear-cut experience of leading formal projects, as I feel this would be more beneficial to me. However, I fully intend to continue the reflection I have started here, and am always on the lookout for leadership oppertunities!

One final though; I think one of the main things that I have learned through all of this reflection on Leadership skills, is that being a leader is more a state of mind affair. I am no longer of the opinion that some people are born leaders, and others are more about following. I think before I thought of myself as someone who could lead small projects, but would shy away from taking on anything challenging of this kind, but now I have learned the skills to take charge, and the confidence is there to actively take control and aim for something bigger that I can really get involved in!

Thanks for the seminar, and the feedback pieces :)


January 17, 2012

Follow Up 2

Follow-up to Follow Up 1 from Matt's blog

I thought I'd leave the post until back at university (as the whole holiday has been devoted to numerous essays and revising for a methods exam!)

My first action point that I've been focussing on throughout not only my essays but also my revision, has been to split large tasks down into manageable chunks, and effectively "lead" myself to achieve certain milestones with relation to these pieces of work. If we take a look at the first task: revising for my exam. This involved reading nearly 50 case studies, and become familiar with the problems and subsequent solutions that related to the methods. I decided to make a conscious effort to set milestones of reading a set number every day, and make notes, before a certain date on which I would review my progress. In addition, with regard to making notes, I effectively recruited 3 other people and organised which case studies we would each make particularly detailed notes on, and collaborated with them when term began.

I also organised a house meeting to limit the amount of electricity being used, as well as putting a cap on the heating allowance each day. This was completely against how I would normally act (running the meeting) but i feel gave me good experience in effectively running a debate, as well as organising where everyone should meet, and at what time etc.

The team project is coming along nicely - we have lost a team member, but added another to the group, so more organisation was needed here to bring them up to scratch on the ideas. I was thinking about what I learned in the first seminar with regard to setting up mind mapping sessions, to see what everyone's ideas were, and I set up a meeting with this in mind within the first week. We now have the proposal for our project sorted, and I have designated wider reading areas to each person!

In search for new leadership oppertunities, I've applied to be a research assistant for two lecturers in the psychology department, looking to run experiments and lead groups of people through these. I figure, if this teaches me nothing else apart from how to organise when the experiments are run and so forth, it will look pretty good on my CV!

That's about all for now!

December 15, 2011

Follow Up 1

Follow-up to P8 Leading a Group Project from Matt's blog

Tutor: Mary Sage

So, once again, there has been a distinct lack of leadership oppertunities in my life (not for lack of trying to find them!), so I shall focus on the action points set in the previous blog post.

Alrighty, so the first action point involved splitting large tasks down into smaller ones. In the last few weeks we have been swamped with pieces of assessed work (they seem to spring them all on us at the end of term!) so the silver lining of this situation is that I've been able to put into practice my plans here. I attempted to split many of the assessments into manageable chunks, and with hindsight this seemed to work well at first. However, on further reflection I think the part of this that let me down involved not making these milestones very clear in the first place! For example, thinking back, "I will write the first two paragraphs, and it will be done in three days time" seems like a good target at first, but it isn't specific enough. The problem lies in the fact that more planning is needed to work out what each part of the overall task will involve - not just splitting it into arbitrary sections (and milestones). One to work on there!

Haha, the kitchen project. This overlaps a bit with the assertiveness seminar I went to, but as I mentioned, I'm not very good at making people play their role in a group environment, and often end up doing their work for them so that the job gets done. However, with my kitchen it may be a small achievement, but I have acheived an environment in which people realise what they need to do, especially coming up to the end of term. I organised an informal meeting, and expressed what had to be done (a side note, the sink flooded part of the house the other day, as the sink was too full of dishes - that may have woken people up to the issue!). By drawing up a vague plan of everyone's duties, the room is looking in a much better state, and I feel like I've actually led a "team" of sorts! Reflecting on this experience, I'm going to attempt to keep this up, and attempt to lead a new situation that has arisen - sorting out the electricity bills, as we have been charged an extortionate amount (something I would not normally take a lead on).

With regard to the team project, I've discussed with my potential team members what ideas we have for the project next term. So far, I'm trying to organise a planning stage, but hopefully when we've got some of these ideas down, I can start delegating research to different people, and take more of a leadership role in this!


November 18, 2011

P8 Leading a Group Project

Tutor: Mary Sage

Date of workshop:16/11/2011

Let's do this. So, the first workshop based on leadership was a few days ago. We began by thinking about what a project is actually defined as, followed by working out what made projects successful. Bingo, straight away hit on my first action point: setting milestones with projects. You see, when I have a project to do with or without others, or any large task for that matter, I generally throw it all into one big category - THE PROJECT. Hence, it always seems daunting, and I often end up avoiding it like the plague. However, when I start it, I really get into it, and end up wearing myself out by working long hours that should have been separated out! So, first action point - aim to split large tasks (not just projects), into smaller ones. I've also noticed this then leading other people; I don't see the overall aim as a series of small goals.

Next, we learned about authoritarian, participative and delegative leadership styles. Authoritarian is the standard "you do this. I'm the boss." style of leadership, participative is more "let's all contribute to decisions and live in harmony", and delegative is "I'm the leader, but you guys decide everything on your own". Thinking about my own style, I definitely have to rule out authoritarian: I'm pretty rubbish att telling people what to do (cue assertiveness skills seminar!). Conversely, I'd say my strengths lie in getting all opinions and making decisions that keep everyone happy; I'm not a big fan of conflict! This leads onto my next action point; delegation and chasing people up. If people aren't pulling their weight in group projects, or anything in life, I'm the last to force them to do things. A polite suggestion is just about as far as I'll go; I find it hard to make people do things they don't want to do. So, since there aren't many oppertunities to make sure people are working in group projects currently, I figure the next best thing is looking outside my academic life. The kitchen in my house (bear with me here) is constantly a complete mess. I'm only really bothered when it's my cutlery etc. that's used and not washed up, but it's getting pretty ridiculous. Anyway, the skill I'm going to try and implement is encouraging people to play their role in putting the work in to keep the room tidy. This skill is obviously transferable to any projects I have to lead in future. I guess you could call it being team leader of "Project Kitchen"! Except maybe not, because that sounds super lame.

Hmm, third action point... considering we have a psychology project coming up, which involves team work, I think it would be wise for me to get the team I'm probably working with together and come up with some ideas about what kind of thing to do a study on. This kind of planning this far ahead isn't normally something I would do, but neither is a seminar on leadership, and both will help me in the long run!

Summary: Break things into smaller tasks, delegate and enforce tasks, and work out an early project action plan to save time later. Sounds do-able, we shall see!


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