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November 30, 2005

Leadership & Excellence module

Yesterday was a very intensive day of seminars and presentations and today was only slightly less intense. I am most impressed by the commitment to learning consistently demonstrated by the participants in this module. A couple of groups are making considerable use of forums – one extensively. The other groups appear to be meeting to discuss and make progress on their projects. The Learning Grid appears to be a popular venue.

There is some concern that there should be more time available to prepare for the seminars. The seminar subjects are decided on Monday morning and because there is a lot of work to be done to complete the projects, little time is available to research seminar topics. One suggestion was to decide the seminar topics the previous week. Another is to reduce the number of seminars. We seem to spend about 11/2 hours on each topic.

Looking at the output of the seminars I am starting to think that there is more to their composition than just common sense. I feel that the research done over the past week has informed their knowledge. Even if much of it is common sense, is that a problem? If common sense was in common practice then the practice of leadership would be greatly improved in many organizations. Need to think about this more – leaving it until the module has run its course and studying all of the opportunities to enrich the learning environment.

Today the groups presented their findings on performance appraisal and promotion and firing policies. There wasn't anything of significance that was missing in their presentations which were delivered with conviction and followed by intelligent discussion. Methinks there is a lot of learning going on at a deeper level than is often found on a 60-hour module.


November 24, 2005

Leadership definitions

Yesterday the groups working in the Leadership & Excellence module presented their definitions of leadership. I was impressed by the effort that had been put into this task, which was reflected in the quality of the output and their ability to discuss with passion and understanding the nuances associated with the practice of leadership.

I feel that this mode of learning through research/discovery rather than through lectures is leading to a better understanding of the topic being studied and certainly more energy is apparent.


November 22, 2005

Lifeboat leader

Yesterday the participants on the Leadership and Excellence module took part in an exercise named 'Lifeboat Leader'. They worked in groups of 4–6 and the scenario was a cruise ship that was expected to sink in just over an hour. Lifeboats were plentiful and the task was to select one from 6 people the group would prefer as their leader. The groups had to select a second choice as well. They were given short biographies of the candidates for leader and based on this information they had to make their choices.

I thought that the outcome was most interesting. Three of the four groups chose candidate A and the fourth group chose candidate B. This is not a question of right or wrong choices. The needs of the members of the fourth group were different to those of the other three groups, based on their expectations of a leader in that particular situation.

What are the implications of this for the practice of leadership?

If a leader is appointed to lead a group rather than be elected by the group as leader, the appointee should be conscious of the needs of the people following to ensure maximum influence towards the achievement of the goup's (leader's) goals.

Candidate B was second choice as leader for one of the groups but last choice for another. Therefore, if you find yourself in a position of leadership in which you would be the least natural choice of leader for the people you are intending to lead, there is some work to do to develop a positive influence in your group. On the other side of the coin, if the appointed leader remains blissfully unaware of the needs of the group, what is the probablilty of the group performing well?

This exercise was conducted as part of a study of what is leadership. Definition of leadership to follow tomorrow's presentations.


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