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February 09, 2011

How can I do it better than my way?

By hearing what others think!

I want to start today, by talking about myself... I led my team in the Winning Strategy exercise. In the style of Vineet Nayar (who I find impressive, and a great example of an unconventional but brilliant-because-of-it leader) I wanted to post their feedback here, because I am interested in what other leaders were told, and I'm hoping you will post. I wonder where the common ground will be... I also wanted to be brave, and put this out there, so people can tell me in the future if they think I've improved or not. For the sake of not typing 5 sheets worth of comments, with differing opinions, I have tried to capture the sense of what was said while condensing. I feel I am being objective, but this may have introduced a degree of bias. If any of you feel I am being too generous, please say so! I can take it ;-)

I was told:


Strengths

  • Introduced the task well.
  • Regularly got the opinions of others, and took these in/responded to/noted them. Quite receptive.
  • Kept a close eye on time, and managed the necessary tasks well within it. Reminded team of times regularly.
  • Was cool/calm under pressure. Showed he felt it, but also that the pressure was on the team, not just him.
  • Delivered a successful outcome.
  • Had the support and engagement of most followers.
  • Impressive style, with a very balanced, democratic approach.
  • Indirect leadership/He's a thought leader.


    Areas for Improvement

    • Needs to make sure everyone is engaged.
    • Should try to give more direction and a vision from the outset, and show the strategy to get there.
    • Make more effort to directly assess people's skills at the beginning, and make use of their strengths.
    • Easily swayed by arguments. Needs to be 'flexibly' firmer with decision-making and own opinion/vision.


    My own opinions on this? Well, I was reasonably happy with my performance. I think it was a very difficult task, but only because of the lack of time. I made the point that what we did in an hour and a half, you would probably have a few weeks to do in reality. One interesting thing: most of the group thought I was very calm. In reality, I was going a bit crazy in my head! I didn't enjoy having to try and pick one strategy over another, without having the time to fully understand any of them, and this was made harder as most of the team had conflicting views about what was the best way to go.

    Ultimately, I took everything in, and made the decision myself about two minutes before I had to present it. The time pressure forced me to lead instinctively rather than methodically. So, not much time to assess skills, or organise my own thoughts. It was uncomfortable, as I am a reflector, but I guess that was the point. From what I can gather from the above, I do some things quite well. BUT, I need to work on being more direct when the time calls for it, outlining my vision so others have something to follow, and being more decisive, while making sure that everyone contributes, in the way that they best can.

    Not bad for a few hours' learning, I think!


    December 14, 2010

    The Other Kind of Module

    Having now had two modules specific to MBE, and two that were not, I am absolutely certain that I picked the right course for me. CBE and PIUSS were run and presented in a way that was quite innovative and unique to me: I can barely recall a dull moment, other than occasionally perhaps during repetitive group presentations! ;-)

    FACS was actually really interesting once we got into it. The pre-work was soul-destroying and full of innacuracy that made it difficult and frustrating to learn from, but the tutors made a lot of the contact time so interactive that it made up for it. That said, there were certainly a lot of times when we lectured to (rather than partners in a dialogue) for long periods that put me to sleep. The element of learning by doing was there though.

    Having just endured ReMe 1, I remembered why I didn't enjoy most of my undergraduate degree here. So much of it was set up in the same way. A single lecturer attempting to 'deliver' material to 300 tired, bored students, 80% of whom probably spent more time fiddling with their phone than keeping up with what was going on (I include myself here), all against a backdrop of 100 mini-conversations at any given time. I don't think there was a single lecturer who didn't have to pause or ask for quiet more than once, which is rarely the case when people are engaged.

    Obviously, from a logistical viewpoint, it probably has to be this way. When you need to get the same information across to so many people, how else can you do it? But while it might be fast and efficient, it is certainly not effective as a means of conveying information in a useful way. Plus, a lot of people have probably been turned off from getting into their literature review, or are not scared at the scope of the task ahead.

    So, was it a waste of time and effort? No, of course of not. What I can say - and it's not a bad thing, maybe it was their true purpose all along - is that at least I didn't have to try and read through all that information in one go myself. I feel I have a basic overview of what is required, and where to go to learn more. But I think the lecture style of teaching is outdated, and not really fit for purpose in general.

    To add balance here though, the mindmapping session was great - not because the concept is new (it couldn't possibly be to anyone on MBE), but because it opened it up in my mind from being a brainstorming tool, to something you can actually use to structure sections, PMA's, projects, etc. The aspect of the software that allows you to effectively create a full writing plan when you export to word is pure genius!

    Overall, it makes me so thankful for the Learning Environment the MBE tutors have developed. Probably, because it's actually possible, and even quite likely, that you will learn something within it!


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