During the month of May I attended a course on leadership. It is a course with a good reputation in our neck of the woods, plus a number of coworkers have also attended it and gave it rave reviews. The course is scheduled during 4 sessions (1 per week), 4 hours a session; if you choose the morning schedule like me, after 4 hours you still need to drive to work and spend the other half of the day there. In a way this setup works nicely: you can immediately start applying in real life concepts discussed and analysed in class. The areas covered in those sessions were:

  • What it means to be a leader and goal setting for success
  • Conflict management: dealing with both success and failure
  • Time management, communication
  • Team building

During the entire course the discussions moved loosely in and out of these areas.

The emphasis is on participation: each one must contribute throughout the course with their own daily experience. It is interesting to note by the second session all participants started to open up and shared their own real challenges with the class. They also brought back feedback on how they applied suggestions picked in class and the results they saw.
Example: one team leader used to do most of the work the other team members had difficulties with. Her challenge was that over a period of time, the team would simply expect her to do it. She began to step back and slowly coach them how to do it (regular or new situations). It worked!
The above example fit very well with part of the course: each one of us got a monkey toy as a reminder not to pick up other peoples’ challenges and/ or work; ever since I have one on my desk as a reminder.

The workbook we got was mostly used as a reference and for writing down important concepts, impressions or for analyzing our own current situation. Homework was required between sessions and it involved working on our own areas of weakness.
Example: show up first and sit in a different place at any regular meeting, forcing the team to change their regular seating. That would disturb their stereotype and make them more alert as participants.

Many tidbits were shared by the instructor and all of us during the entire duration. The ones I liked the most were:

  • Embrace any questions
  • Do not interrupt deep thinking
  • Rule #1 of feedback: it is a gift

Conclusion: it is a good course to take, especially for those with no previous training. For those with project management expertise the course adds different angles to the areas of time management (the new schedule management as per PMBOK Guide 6th Edition) and communication management. That goes well with the hands-on, real life approach; sometimes we take things too academically in project management. The course also exposed each participant to different industries and leadership challenges of the others based on their teams and company cultures. Last but not least it opens the door to different aspects one might be interested to pursue and explore in more detail. One colleague shared with me a couple of worthwhile sources to explore as we were chatting about the course:
5 Levels Of Leadership
Get Things Done
You might want to check them out as well.

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