Earlier this week I attended the last formal event on the Warwick Administrative Management Programme (WAMP) that I have been participating in over the past 6 months.
The event took the form of a presentation day where each member of the learning set delivered a presentation on what they had learned from the programme. The audience was the rest of the learning set, our learning set facilitator and our managers. The task was pretty daunting as for many of us WAMP had been a very personal journey. I particularly feel like I have come out of it with a different perspective on more areas of my life than just work. I am not going to share my presentation here, instead I want to pull out a few themes and ideas relating to the programme that are on my mind.
The first thing is something that I hadn’t really considered prior to the programme and that is the distinction between management and leadership. I often hear the words used interchangeably, but now it is so clear to me that they are two very different things. Put simply I see management as being about process and leadership as being about strategy. This is given a great visual metaphor in the quote below from Steven Covey which I have split out into its two elements:
One of the cornerstones of WAMP is the idea that in order to understand the people you manage/lead you need to fully understand yourself. A lot of time at the beginning of the course is therefore spent looking into MBTI and Belbin’s team roles. As a learning set we also covered Kiersey’s four temperaments. I found this particularly useful in identifying the ways I like to work and to communicate. I began the programme with quite a fixed view of myself and my practices. What I came to realise over the course of the programme was that this was an ideal – this view was built on what I wanted to be. Now that I’m at the end of the programme I feel I have a better understanding of the reality and a reassurance that although it does not match with my ideal this is not a bad thing.
Communication was a theme that we covered at all three stages of the programme; managing self, managing others and managing change. I’ve already touched on one aspect of this in a post about levels of listening. Another idea that has stuck with me came out of an exercise on emotional intelligence. In an off-the-cuff remark the facilitator said “You cannot challenge someone’s emotions, only their response.” I have been thinking about this specifically in relation to change, not only in how others deal with it, but also from a personal perspective.
The final thing about communication, and specifically about communicating as a leader, is something that in a recent post about effective leadership Jo Alcock described as “being authentic”:
You’ll earn more respect and trust this way and it will be a far more natural process. There is no cookie cutter personality type for a successful leader, the key is to be authentic.
I’ve also heard this described as leading with character and it’s something that I hope I will never lose sight of.
Throughout the programme I really benefited from the time away from the office to think and reflect on my development. Something that I have been struggling with, and found particularly difficult when preparing my presentation, is getting into the right head-space when I’m immersed in the everyday work life. I set up a private blog for WAMP and continuing that is one way in which I hope to continue reflecting on my development in this area. My learning set are also planning to meet periodically to offer support and a forum for discussion.
If you’ve got any suggestions for how you can create an atmosphere for reflection alongside the hustle and bustle of your job I’d love to hear from you in the comments.