April 25, 2017, by Carla
Q and A: Developing Leadership Skills at University – For Free!
By Martina di Costanzo, second year, BSc Hons Psychology
Last year, I applied for a free two-day leadership course sponsored by the Careers and Employability Service. Day one explored how to lead yourself and day two covered leading others. I sat down with this year’s organiser, to answer some questions about my experiences.
1. Why did you apply to take part in LeadNow?
I applied after receiving an internship offer from Newell Brands as an assistant brand manager. Although I’d been nominated as course representative for my year, I didn’t feel like I had enough leadership experience to succeed in this role.
I wanted a deeper insight into managing conflict and groups as I knew that working in such a big company would mean managing projects as well as teams. The course was super helpful, providing practical insights into managing groups and myself.
2. What were the highlights?
The theory was inspiring. It opened my eyes to all different types of leadership. A particularly fascinating insight was when we were told to look at the generational shifts in Disney movies – the princess no longer waits for rescue in a castle, you now see princesses doing it for themselves.
We also had the chance to practice some exercises together. It was simply mind-blowing. We all felt very confident that we’d understood the theory, but when it came to practical group exercises, it took us three seconds to forget it all and get into a massive conflict over a silly task. This opened our eyes to our weaknesses and taught us how to remain calm in a conflict situation.
The most amazing thing was that thanks to the exercises we did, we built a great team in just two days – getting to know each other on a much deeper level. We created a Facebook group and still keep in contact now.
3. Have you put anything into practice?
As yet, I’ve not had to manage teams or conflict, but I have put into practice what I learned about leading myself. I am no longer worried during presentations or by talking to new people.
One thing that particularly struck a chord with everyone was how to build a working relationship with someone you don’t see all the time. The answer was “you talk to them about everybody’s favourite subject: themselves.” This principle helped me build relationships with senior people as well as my peers – by showing interest in their lives, they showed interest in mine.
4. Did it help your career development?
It made me understand I have the potential to be a good leader and I’ve started applying for roles that would allow me to develop this. For example, I’ve just been accepted on the Nottingham Advantage Award Capital One: Business Decision Making module. This required a lot of confidence in proposing a strategy to Capital One experts. I’ve also been offered a role as a project manager at Rolls-Royce.
5. What would you say to a fellow student thinking about applying this year?
Take this opportunity to challenge yourself and apply for LeadNow, now! You won’t become a leader in two days, but you will understand your strengths and weaknesses, which will allow you to work on your leadership potential.
Aside from that, if you’re not confident at building professional relationships, then LeadNow is your chance to practise these skills. You will get the opportunity to get into conflict and learn how to resolve it.
If you’re interested in developing leadership skills, applications for LeadNow are open. But be quick, they close on Tuesday 2 May 2017.
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