The Fundamentals of Leadership

Ten years ago, I traveled to Germany to take part CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), a leadership and global friendship seminar. As one of Canada’s selected delegates, I met people from all over the world and gained insights into team-working strategies and other fundamental group-based skills. This experience provided me with a basic groundwork, skills that I have made consistent use of over the past few years. Until this year when a higher level program took my leadership ability to the next level.

Earlier in 2020, two colleagues and I took part in a 2-day Leadership Fundamentals course put on by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), the number one most attended leadership development program in the world. I assumed it would be a higher level course based around similar concepts as my previous experience in Germany and was excited to refresh and expand my skills.

Once we arrived in Greensboro, NC, I was struck by how impressive their Global Headquarters was. As our facilitators shared their professional achievements and the company’s history, I realized then that this was not going to be like anything I’ve done before.

The class was made up of just under 40 professionals from all different fields spanning across the United States and even abroad. As we dove into course content, we frequently found ourselves on our feet and learning actively – which I loved! All lessons were experimental and applied directly to our work environment, past, present, and future. I learned about the components of leadership: direction, alignment, and commitment, and analyzed which of these may be strengths or weaknesses in my current projects.

The activity I found most engaging was an analysis of individual learning types. In the CCL model there are 4 different types, ranging from experimental or researcher, listener or doer. Out of the 40 people in attendance, I was the only person categorized as learning type 4: an experiential doer, someone who is a risk taker and jumps in to act upon the circumstance. This was crazy to me! Yet, all of the examples and explanations resonated perfectly with me. I felt this was very beneficial to learn for the future, mostly to analyze and work on the cons of this learning type. Shannon, one of the two incredible facilitators, stated that a lot of quadrant 4’s are entrepreneurial. I enjoyed hearing that news since that’s exactly what I hope to become in the near future. Being able to analyze and research are two weaknesses of type four learners. With the help of our facilitators, I practiced some strategies to improve upon these weaknesses including exercises in patience and collaboration with other team members from different learning types who may be more adept at research but might have a tougher time taking immediate action.

Being able to work hand-in-hand with all types of learners and facilitate actions based off each individual’s strengths was a key lesson they taught. When building a leadership team, it is valuable to include members from different learning types for a more well-rounded approach to diverse projects.

Some other interesting learnings from the course were how to influence others, the ability and need to reach outside of one’s comfort zone, and how to effectively collaborate quickly and efficiently with others.

My key takeaway from the course is to be able to analyze a room more thoughtfully and understand what motivations each individual has to be able to lead them with greater purpose. I’m excited to take my learnings from the CCL and utilize them for my own team one day. Being able to understand the importance of collaboration over the past few months in the Executive Meetings at CB have greatly improved my knowledge for the importance of direction, alignment, and commitment. When hiring or looking for someone to join the team, understanding their learning type will be crucial to complementing what will hopefully be an already diverse group.

Lastly, I would like to thank both Shannon and Jonathan. Our two facilitators taught the material incredibly thoughtfully and were excellent at getting every student involved and attentive. If you’d like to learn more about the Center for Creative Leadership I urge you to read about them here: https://www.ccl.org/about-the-center-for-creative-leadership/

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