Leadership and Management

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.

Say yes more often…

New things used to scare me. Until recently, I had a long mental list of “things I don’t do” and would have no trouble saying no if there was even a hint that I might be asked to do something on that list. This attitude was fixed and applied both at home and at work.

You will note that I’ve been writing in the past tense and I hope you’re asking “so what’s changed?”, well here’s where the story begins…

Over Easter last year I went on a trip to New Zealand. This was a holiday and the chance to meet the rest of my in-laws (Laura’s mum is a New Zealander and the majority of her family live there). During the trip we spent a lot of time with Laura’s aunts, Sue and Sharon, in and around Wellington. Whilst getting to know each other we talked about our outlooks on life and plans for the future. Through these conversations I learned a lot about myself and took some valuable advice and inspiration from Sharon. When we were leaving she gave me this card and I have been using the words as my mantra ever since:

Say yes more often

What prompted me to write this post was an experience on the WAMP workshop a couple of weeks ago. As part of a session on performance management we did a role-play exercise. You know that mental list I had of “things I don’t do”? Role play was definitely on it and 12 months ago I would have found it difficult to take part. Now that I am saying ‘yes’ more often there was no doubt in my mind that I would give it a go. I was a little scared but my overriding thoughts were that it would be a really good opportunity to get some practical experience of performance management and that I could learn a lot from it.

I found the whole role-play experience tiring and challenging but ultimately extremely useful. As well as doing our own role-plays it was really good to get the opportunity to observe others in action and see how different people and personalities approached a range of issues.

New things used to stress me out, but I’ve found that by saying ‘yes’ more often I’ve become more relaxed about the things that life throws at me and I feel I can take them on with confidence. Give it a go and see if it helps you too!

On groups and teams

In the latest workshop on the management programme I am participating in we spent some time looking at the difference between a group and a team in the workplace. In our learning sets we were given 30 minutes to prepare a short presentation on this topic. Our group chose to illustrate this difference using the idea of a relay race. We ran two races around the room, one as a group and one as a team. In each race the baton being carried represented a task.

BXP135656 by tableatny, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  tableatny 

In the group’s race the runners encountered problems with lack of direction, dropping of the baton, lack of support and self preservation or competitiveness €“ they finished last. In the workplace this might represent the achievement of the task but with a poor result.

In the team’s race the runners communicated better, using each other’s names, they passed the baton in the right order, gave each other support and motivated each other €“ they won the race. In the workplace this might represent not only the achievement of the task but to a high standard.

Following this activity there was a lot of discussion about whether it was always necessary to work in a team in the workplace. In some cases, particularly working as a subject librarian, I find that the team I am in works most often as a group of individuals, each supporting our own departments in slightly different ways dependent on their needs. The important thing in this case though is that when it is required we can pull together to work effectively as a team.