Before spending the entire semester learning about leadership, I was very suspicious about the outcome of the class. I thought to myself, “Is leadership worth learning? Shouldn’t it be coming from experiences and practices, rather than from a classroom setting?” The truth was, I would probably never pick this class, if it was not for graduate.
So there I was, in my first day of the C-suite class in my last semester of graduate school, feeling reluctant and passive. “Let’s just get this over with.” I didn’t think my attitude could have changed a bit. However, now after three months, before the semester is about to end, I look back at what I have read, learned and reflected upon the materials we went through for the entire semester, I realize my perspective has completed reshaped. This class has taught me so much about myself, my leadership style and how to become a better leader in the future, that it’s a perfect touch to end the program, before going back to the workforce (aka “adult world”) again.
It’s hard to describe exactly what I have learned. I guess it is a combination of many things;, as some of them being very new to me. At the end of the day, it gives me a refreshing and enlightening reflection of my life, about myself, others and past (good or bad) leadership experiences. I learned about the importance of self-awareness and understood how different types of leadership play their roles, how to solve conflicts through communication, how to stay ethical, ways to form a leadership structure and why diversity matters. It was certainly also fun to learn about sociopath and psychopath.:)
However, if I have to pick one subject as the most meaningful lesson I have learned through the course, it will be the art of communication. As I have mentioned in my earlier blog, I was never a strong communicator. But after learning in class and reading the book “Crucial Conversations”, I am more confident with communicating in the near future, as I feel that now I have the tools and techniques to become a better communicator and negotiator in disagreement or conflicts, either from work or from life in general. I will remind myself that knowing “what do I want for myself, the other person, and the relationship” is crucial before handling a difficult situation. I will remember to create a dialogue, to have the free flow of meaning between everyone, and also keep in mind that the five elements of a dialogue: mutual intent, creating safety, speaking from the heart, focus on self not other and create mutuality, are the golden key to unlock the success of communication.
Throughout the course of learning, I also put in thoughts of who I am as a leader. By reading the materials and cases, I constantly asked myself this question, “if I was the leader in this situation, what will I do? Will I handle it differently?”.The ILS workshop also confirmed some of my leadership traits and helped answering some of the questions such as how to utilize these traits as strengths and work with people from other leadership styles. In a way, it provides me a new perspective of the people I come across in everyday life. I start to understand why we behave differently and more importantly. how to appreciate and work with the differences.
Yes, I still believe that leadership comes from experiences and practices in real life. However, leadership also need to be learned, Only by learning more, we know how to improve to be better. Learning and practicing are not contradictory. Rather, they come hand in hand. That’s why finishing this course does not mean an end. It’s more of a new start that involves improvement through consistent practice and continued learning.