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The three most important leadership competencies and why I have always found it hard to fit in the “corporate sandbox” – Reflexions from an MBA study group workshop

I am now at a stage where I have had my first two workshops and am waiting for feedback on my first assignment. It has been confirmed that it was the right decision and choice to get onboard with the programme, but I am also a bit taken back at the amount of effort that I will need to put into this, as well as the impact that I feel the seriousness of the study group work can have on me.

I actually feel a strong commitment towards my team members, knowing that we will support each other as well as believing that this will be the glue that will keep us together through the tough times, which will undoubtedly come over the next two and a half years.

A wish to learn, transform and develop

I joined the MBA programme as I had recently started out on my own with Lysgaard Recruitment, wanting to take a more knowledge-based approach to recruitment and thereby organisational development.

After working with my first client, who hired me for a specific recruitment initiative, which actually developed into a four-month project, uncovered valuable insights from the recruitment process, as we saw a need to look into the overall organisational structure.

This was a key learning moment for me as it confirmed my beliefs for the potential of a more knowledge-based approach, but it also made me realise that I needed to update my toolbox and knowledge, I, therefore, invested my first pay cheque in an MBA programme.

Earlier post: An exclusive insight to the life of an MBA student, family man and business owner

From a performance perspective, I guess that this is a classic level to reach. Having spent +10 years with recruitment, I had reached a plateau in my performance and needed to make a change to get out of my comfort zone in order to further develop, and Henley was a great way to initiate this.

Malcom Gladwell identified in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours to reach greatness. This principle is to me a great rule of thumb but also over simplified.

Tiger Woods is an often used example on this, but what I find truly amazing in his case is that when he was at such a high level (after spending + 10.000 hours training) in his career, he actually chose to change his swing and lost performance for a while, only to rise to a higher level later on, as he worked at his new swing to further improve his golfing technique.

performance curve 10-000-hours principle

Reflections on the three most important leadership competencies

As part of the CBL (first year at the Henley MBA programme), I recently participated in a workshop run by Business Psychologist Julie Grenaa together with my newly appointed study group.

Meeting up at Henley Denmark and meeting the study group for the second time knowing that we had two intensive days in front of us, with a very practical- and group-oriented focus working only with real life cases that we had to bring to the table that was daunting. During the workshop, no slides were used, only flip overs and at the end of the workshop, we had the room plastered with flip overs from wall-to-wall.

How did the magic happen?

We had all signed up individually, and from my side of things I had not given much thought to the process of group work and dynamics, and felt no specific passion on that matter at all.

A quick look at the study group: 6 people, backgrounds ranging from supply chain, law, lean, sales, human resources and general management, with an age range from late 20’ies to the 50’ies.

On an obvious level, we had nothing in common other than having all started on the MBA and the fact that we were now labelled as a study group. As we got started on the workshop we did find out that we all had one thing in common – transformation, we were all undergoing a conscious transformation wanting to develop our professional careers.

It was exactly these differences in backgrounds and not being part of the same daily political hierarchy, combined with the wish to transform and working with our own real-life cases that made the difference and where the magic was beginning to happen.

Under the workshop, we worked with business leadership from different angles, and one of the angles that made the biggest difference to me was working with the three primary leadership competencies.

Three primary leadership competences.
  • Abstraction – to arise from context and do an objective analyse of any given situation.
  • Loneliness – to dare to stand on your own, stand by your decisions with courage and having a healthy balance between empathy and sympathy.
  • Separation – to separate from one’s own emotions and others in order to act rationally.

(freely translated from the workshop)

Why I have always found it hard to fit in the “corporate sandbox”

What really opened my eyes and made me do some deeper soul searching was separation, especially the part about separating from other’s emotions. In the workshop, I was faced with what for most would be simple questions on my competence to separate from other’s feelings but found that I was nowhere near coming up with a reasonable answer to this.

This made me start thinking, even to the point of lying awake most of the night between the two workshop days, and this made me look into my life, childhood, school, and through my entire career.

This epiphany gave me a fantastic understanding of why I love working as a consultant, being able to deliver value on specific projects but also being able to stay out of the “corporate sandbox” (hierarchy, politics and navigating the different interests).

I am still working on whether I should let my black spot be as it is, continuing as I do today – or if I should start working with it in order to gain control or raise awareness and thereby opening the door to new opportunities.

I can truly recommend that when you are faced with one of your own black spots (we all have them), that you should take it into consideration and consider whether it is something that will gain value from you working with it – or if it is something best to let be for now. After all: Our differences are also what gives us an edge and make us stick out from the crowd.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch, share or comment on my personal story.

Stay tuned as I will continue blogging. Next class is in Managing Processes and Systems, and there is a big chance that this will be my next blog post subject.

For further reading on the subject, I can recommend:

Or reach out to Julie Hauch Grenaa: https://dk.linkedin.com/in/julie-hauch-grenaa-3193345

By: Henley Business School Danmark

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