Inclusive Leadership Training prompt: Attributes I have (good and bad) and skills I want to work on.

I’ve started doing a short course titled ‘Inclusive Leadership Training’ by Catalyst. It started on the 18th of February, so there’s still time to join if you want to, and it only needs an hour or two a week of engagement. It’ll take you longer if, like me, you find yourself thinking maybe too deeply about the information they present and the writing prompts.

One such writing prompt is below. I’ve already shared this in the discussion forums (as requested), but I thought it would be interesting to share it here and see if others have similar experiences.

What leadership attributes do you currently have? What do you do well as a leader? As a follower? What attributes do you see in the leaders you identified earlier that you want to emulate in your own life?

If possible, tell the community about specific situations where you’ve succeeded (or maybe failed!) as a leader. What did you learn from those experiences? And remember that leadership extends to all areas in our lives, not just work, so be sure to keep school, family, personal and community relationships, etc., in mind as well.

I find these kinds of writing prompts very difficult. It’s like writing a personal statement for a university application. Any positive points I write seem forced and like bragging, while any negative points make me sound like a bad and undeserving person. However, as I seem to keep saying, we’re all human, and no one is perfect, so I’ll give it my best shot.

Attributes I have

I would say my best attribute is that I encourage people to try things out on their own. I suppose I do that because I like it when other people let me just give it a go. I learn from doing, so maybe I assume other people will learn like I do. I try to be proactive and self-sufficient, and so I try to encourage this in others as well.

I think this also makes me a good follower, insomuch as I don’t need a lot of hands-on support. However, while I don’t need a lot of guidance, I do find that I need frequent praise/reassurance. This might be a weakness of mine, but I make sure that, in turn, I go out of my way to thank people and praise them on their work.

I would also say that I am able to discern what needs to change for the future. For example, I’ve recently convinced my company to get a new ticket system (I work in IT) because I knew it was a big thing holding us back and would improve the workflow of almost every department, not just my own. I pushed for months to get a new product, and the higher-ups eventually agreed with me. Since implementing it (and it’s not even finished yet), I have heard from just about everyone in the company how amazing this product is, and they didn’t even realise they needed it less than six months ago! I think ahead and work hard to help my company.

A negative attribute that I have and that I’m trying to work on is that when someone isn’t proactive, I get annoyed. I feel like I’m a busy person, so why should I spend hours showing you something that I’ve given you resources to look at and an environment to try it out without permanent repercussions? It’s unfair of me, especially since I work in IT, and the people I’m supporting aren’t computer specialists. I try not to show my frustration, but I know I can work harder to be more understanding.

Another area I need to work on is my ability to delegate on tasks that are important to me. I can and do delegate tasks on a daily basis at work, assigning incoming support tickets to the people best suited for the task. As we have a new member of staff, I also try to assign him tickets that he might not be able to do right off the bat, but that can stretch his knowledge of the systems we use a bit further. However, I am working on a big project at work at the moment, and I find it difficult to delegate any of the work that I don’t feel comfortable letting other people do, as I’m afraid they won’t do it the way I want it to be done. This means I am keeping a lot of work that I then need to do.

Attributes I want to develop

Here are just a few skills I’d like to develop:

  • Remaining calm under pressure, and not getting snappy
  • Patience and understanding
  • Trusting others with important tasks
  • Knowing when to let something go
  • Better communication skills
  • Trusting myself

Reads of the Day – 17th Nov. 2014

Research: How Female CEOs Actually Get to the Top
By Sarah Dillard and Vanessa Lipschitz (Harvard Business Review)
This is a really interesting article, particularly for a young woman who has great ambitions for life. It counters the often-touted advice of Go to College, Get an MBA, Jump Diagonally From Company to Company with an analysis of the 24 women currently in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies. More than half of these women actually worked from the ground up over decades in one company. Only a quarter of these women have MBAs.

What’s the impact on my own career? I’m not sure now whether an MBA is the right way to go. Is it maybe better to work my way up the ladder in a single company? However, this depends on finding the right company that you want to stay in and build a career with, which isn’t every company in my (somewhat limited) experience.

My thoughts on #EDCMOOC Week 1 (Part 1)

I’m participating in #EDCMOOC through Coursera as a sort of side endeavour to my main studies and work. The purpose of this is to get a feel for the University of Edinburgh’s Masters in Digital Education, as it is a potential future direction for me, particularly with its online, part-time mode of study (meaning I can continue working – yay!).

The first two weeks of study are about Utopias and Dystopias, and how people have portrayed online learning in these two ways. Week 1 looks at past views on online learning and how it affects society.

I’ll take a look at each section of resources in turn: portrayals in popular culture/media, ideas and interpretations, and finally perspectives on education. As there’s a lot to say about the videos, I’ll write a separate post for the readings!

Popular cultures

Film 1: Bendito Machine III

This video by Zumbakamera takes a dystopian view of technology, depicting a village that effectively worships one kind of technology until another member finds a new and ‘better’ one to replace it. The new technology and its founder become the idol and the high priest, while the displaced technology is discarded in a pile of other old technologies. There are two interesting things about this video that I’d like to comment on.

The first is that it shows different technologies having different power relationships with the people. The radio bull is static and unmoving, and it doesn’t seem sinister. On the other hand, the TV is far more controlling, kicking a women who isn’t exercising with the rest of the group (a form of fat-shaming, ‘you should be suffering like the others to be skinny’?) and chasing/scaring children. It spreads fear and control through depicting war scenes until the people wear gas masks. The people have no control over what is shown. Finally, the computer/Internet seems to represent knowledge and powerful words (weapons come from the mouth). It is controlled by whoever sits atop it, so finally people have some power. But again, the people worship it (relinquishing control). Also, who’s to say whoever is onboard will use it for the benefit of society?

My second comment is on the portrayal of the junk pile of technology lying at the bottom of the cliff. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We have mountains of rubbish, holding plastic, metal and other materials, a lot of it being old phones, TVs, refrigerators, etc. People are so quick to discard their old (working) technology for the latest thing. I’d like to think I’m fairly good, despite loving gadgets – I don’t jump up and get the latest thing (particularly because I’m not rich), and I try to recycle old electronics when they break. However, I’m not perfect, and this video did make me feel a bit guilty!

Film 2: Inbox

From the title of the film, you can quickly make the connection between the bags and email/SMS/other digital communication tools. I actually really liked this video by Curio Films and thought it was rather sweet. I think the deeper message here is that it shows ‘technology’ as being able to connect people who may have not previously been able to connect. The context of India is particularly striking, as men are portrayed as leering and creepy to women. The female character seems put off by the men around her, while the male characters seems awkward and doesn’t know how to interact with women. The red box gives each the power to interact with each other in small bites and without the pressure of in-person interaction (and judgments of person). However, it does show that these connections are frail and can be broken by a fault in the ‘technology’ (e.g. the internet goes down, your phone breaks, etc.).

All-in-all, I would say this video is primarily utopian in nature, as technology brought the two characters together.

Film 3: Thursday

I have to say, watching this Future Shorts video made me feel very, very uncomfortable. The way humans have brushed aside nature both in terms of physical space and lighting is scary. The birds struggle to survive in the cityscape that’s been created with few green spaces. This is all too real in so many cities, though there are efforts in parts of the world to increase green spaces. For example, the Mayor of London has a Big Green Fund to improve London’s green spaces. However, this takeover of nature generally makes me uncomfortable, hence why I live on the outskirts of Oxford (balancing my career and my need to live somewhere that isn’t too industrial).

Also, on a side note, this is also shows how our society is so enamored and controlled by mundane routine and technology, that we have nothing to do when it breaks! Definitely a dystopian video.

Film 4: New Media

Ok, so creepiest of the lot. Probably also the most dystopian I think. People are brainwashed by machines while the world around them decays. I can’t really think what else to say other than, ‘Get outside people!’

So, I’m done with the videos now.

I’ll just throw in a few sentences about the TV show ‘Almost Human’, which lasted one season and was set in a future where technology could no longer be regulated. Each episode showed a potential future scenario (like a smart house turning on its owners), and it really made you think about the speed at which technology is progressing and evolving. It’s a shame the show ended so early on, though I’m not entirely surprised. While posing some very interesting philosophical and ethical questions, there was something a bit off with the pacing of each episode…

Anyway, tune in to my next post to read about the rest of the resources!