TLP Participant Story: David Simpson West Spring 2022
I particularly liked the focus on leadership rather than management. As a manager in the community and voluntary sector for nearly 40 years I’ve been regularly reflective and quite self-critical about my leadership skills and qualities. I felt this programme seemed the right duration to be substantial but also manageable. Coming off the back of a very difficult two years associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, I also felt this was a good time to refocus and re-energise my leadership role through a training programme. The local (Colin/Dunmurry) makeup of the programme participants was also a plus. Finally, the joint role of NICVA and WBPB (both of whose committees/boards I’ve been a member of in the past, and organisations which I regard highly), as well as the promotion of the programme by Urban Villages (which funds one of the services I manage), acted as good recommendations for the programme.
Firstly, leadership styles. I’ve done a lot of stuff at work in the past around personality types – Myers Briggs etc. – so I know what my principal personality traits are, as well as the impact of different personalities on team development. I found it really useful to revisit this within a wider organisational management and leadership framework. The most useful part was the time to reflect on how different leadership styles can be used for different organisational needs and within different team contexts.
Secondly, I found the discussions on communication really helpful – such as the importance of utilising different communication modes at particular times, taking account of who the audience is and what type of communication will work best for them. Sometimes, in the email age, it’s easy to under-estimate the importance of individual and group face-to-face communications at the right time.
The combination of ‘teaching’, group discussion, smaller breakout groups, and questionnaires that we used during the course helped to develop and reinforce some of this learning.
I found myself thinking during the course about a major project with large numbers of staff that I managed a few years back, and the challenges that emerged between project requirements (targets, programme fidelity etc.), individual team members’ experience, and organisational culture. It was hard to manage, and although the project’s outcomes were relatively successful there are aspects that I regret we underachieved in. I absolutely do feel that this course has given me information and resources to reflect on and employ if a similar situation arises in future.
In terms of how I engage in my interface area, I think it will make me more open, and possibly proactive, to developing a wider set of working relationships in future, and to seeing where this leads. Some of us on the course have already begun to look at a potential shared project, and I’m pretty sure others will find themselves working together in combinations that mightn’t have happened previously. I think though that courses like this, and relationship building generally, are often a ‘slow fuse’ and that this is a positive thing which shouldn’t be forced or hurried too much.
I think that this course has provided a timely re-energising for me after the challenges of Covid-19 on my working practice over the past two years. I feel that this course was fast-paced and full of learning, and quite varied in how that learning was delivered. I do genuinely feel quite motivated to use the learning from this course in my work over the next couple of years.
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