leadership - Symposium Learning

June 2, 2021
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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Can a 20-years-old guide still be actual and provide insights that resonate with modern managers? Indeed, it can! Leadership skills for women delivers over 90 pages of exercises and ideas that will help all aspiring managers, women as well as men, to achieve valuable self-knowledge to boost their career.

The authors foreword anticipates this as a “book to read with a pencil” (p.vii): thought out its pages it guides the readers from the discovery of the qualities that make people leaders to the learning of key skills, via the unique challenges and opportunities that leader face, with direct consideration to women managers.

The workbook opens by listing the characteristics of the effective leader: values intuition, ethical believes and great listening skills are what differentiate a leader from a follower.

Of great insight are the 2 core leadership styles that can be recognised in leaders: the “Quite style”, that divides in The Supporter & The Perfectionist and the “Outgoing Style” which includes The Director and The Motivator – simple and easy to follow indication of characteristics and preferences that can be observed and reflected upon.

The statement “your attitude as a leader will set the pace and the tone for your employees” (p.10) sets the expectations high and the authors suggest that conflicts raising directly from the private sphere will lead to stress to trickle in the business life affecting one’s own effectiveness as a leader.

Management evolves around “planning, organising, staffing and controlling” (p. 13) and those four basic functions are essential to both man and women to become effective leaders.

It is not until page 15 that the authors begin to address unique challenges that women leaders face: by listening the stereotypes the readers are guided to truthfully ask themselves if they have engaged in such stereotype and what resolutions could be taken to change perception. Accepting that some of the challenges are differently worded today, I have wonder if the stereotypes are still actual despite the semantic. “Women are too picky” or “women are difficult to work for” are surely some two I have found myself confronting.

The workbook reads easily and it can be completed in 2-hour setting or over a few sessions, depending on what the reader is really searching for.

Insights on team players types (p.24), values as motivators (p.27), time management (p.37) create an active workbook. The reader can get fully involved by naming individual team member, list traits that makes them difficult and then work out effective resolution techniques such as coaching and feedback (p. 51)

Very Interesting the notion to use Positive Anger in conflict resolution and the proposition that women, being raised to “be nice”, are directly challenged in using this technique. The ethics that guide “raising girls” continue to resonate in most contemporary discussion around women leadership. The benefits of leadership that the authors provide e.g. leading a more interesting life thanks to the ability to travel, could be modernized in a new edition by including closing pay-gap and increase equality in participation, without decreasing the great insight offered by this useful workbook.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR WOMEN

Boost your career with new techniques and skills.

Marilyn Manning and Patricia Haddock

Kogan Page – Better management skills

(1999)

96 pages

ISBN: 0749427310

Interactive Worksheets

Further Reading

Available on Amazon


March 30, 2021
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Reading Time: 3 minutesInteraction with specialist trainer gives the highest level of assurance that the training courses selected address the real learning needs of managers. While e-learning makes vast and high-quality content easily accessible, blended learning offers calibration by expanding and clarifying on leadership needs.

What is Blended Learning

Blended learning can be generically defined as a structured learning interaction between learners, subject contents and a learning facilitator. 

Technology-mediated education includes synchronous learning, when students and instructors have a real-time interaction as well as asynchronous learning, when the learner has independent and autonomous access to subject matter content from digital resources like videos, case studies as well as the traditional text books. 

Blended Learning and E-Learning

Independent access to digital content is often simplified by the term e- learning. E-learning makes vast and high-quality content easily available to learners by removing obstacles of time and place. Thanks to is affordability it has been used extensive for workplace learning: from tactical skillsets like Data Analytics to more complex subjects such as leadership and motivation.

The advantage of e-learning is the variety and quality of method of delivery of content when compared to traditional text books. Webinars and videos tutorials are engaging and are powerful resources, often of brief length, that focus on specific aspect of the programmes helping the learner’s understanding. Gamification allows a learner to interact independently with the content, to experiment and it dynamically supports the prerequisite of repetition as a learning tool. Both video and gamification provide the learner with instruments to experience knowledge progression and reward systems which support engagement with the subject matter. 

The disadvantage of e-learning is the one-sidedness of the experience. As e-learning that does not include real time interaction with the author, e-leaning offers extremely limited opportunity to relate the content with the specific supervisor’s learning needs. Most digital content is generic and not necessarily beneficial to the leader’s progression.

Assurance that the training courses address the real learning needs is best achieved via interaction with a specialist trainer. Most subjects require contextualisation and specifically for leadership and management trainings this is grounded in a two-way process of communication. The facilitator has the ability to calibrate the content by expanding, simplifying, paraphrasing, reducing and clarifying key learning points by anticipating the learning needs based on observation and interaction. When a learner has direct contact with an expert trainer opportunity of deep learning, which translates in behavioural change, can occur.

Organisations therefore must provide hybrid learning educational plans and give to the learners the opportunity to access high quality and quantity of content via e-learning as well as to benefit from interaction with subject matters experts. 

Blended learning programmes combine effectively and seamlessly expert know-how with e-learning content and gamification programs.  

How to Create a Blended Learning Plan

To build appropriate blended learning plans, an organisation can

  1. Invest in an e-learning library for all managers and encourage completion of programmes 
  2. Engage specialised trainers to supervise the creation of the library and selection of the content.
  3. Invest in building case studies repositories personalised to the specific industry and size of the organisation
  4. Encourage leaders exchange of feedback on e-learning programmes offered.
  5. Create opportunity for practice with support by expert trainer in application of the knowledge 
  6. Offer Virtual and/or In Person real time sessions with expert trainers to expand on specific subjects 
  7. Recommend Mentoring Programmes with experts in the leadership subject matters 
  8. Assess regularly effectiveness by appraising key business performances and employee engagement.

The leaner supervisor will access high quantity of content and diversity of points of view while being guided in self-reflection by experts. Trainers encourage motivation to progress further in the learning journey and identify specific learning blockages in a timely manner.

Leadership and Performance Management rely on the enhancement of specific skills which cannot be fully explored via e-learning resources. Organisations must pay sufficient attention to how key competencies such as Emotional Intelligence, Change Management and Diversity are acquired and ensure that contextualisation is made available. 


January 30, 2021
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Reading Time: 3 minutes

A selected a Question & Answer featured in a leading magazine and myattempt to provide constructive answers. 

The objective of Q&A? To build a dynamic relation between speakers & audience.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

Answering the question in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic one feels compelled to answer isolation. However, like many others, I do find a sense of purpose in this time of physical distance. The biggest challenge I’ve faced as a people manager was the opening and closing of calls centres in Europe. Closing a centre in Dublin while transferring operations to a newly created centre in Romania was very demanding: to guide a team and give it  a sense of purpose, while making oneself redundant, took a lot of effort and empathy.  I then had to do the same 3 more times. Each time I had to renew my sense of professional drive and find more than financial benefit for the organisation as a motivator

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I feel I have never really received clear and direct career advice – plenty of interesting encounters that have directly, or indirectly, made an impact. I became a Trainer thanks to one of those: as I was looking for the next adventure, the Call Centre manager suggested a course in Train the Trainer. I completed a 3- day course at Jefferson Institute in Donnybrook, back in 1999. It completely changed me: I had found my vocation.

And the worst?

The worst episode relates to my professional dress code: just weeks after I began my journey as a freelance trainer, I attended an event in Bank of Ireland and I stood close to the buffet table. I wore a white shirt and a pair of black trousers – a quite distinctive professional uniform, I though. While there I was asked for coffee: milk no sugar! I answered “I take it just black” and the unfortunate attendee was immediately aware of the mistaken identity and apologised. Since then I  no longer wear white shirts!  and I am confident that his networking skills have greatly improved.

Who do you most admire?

Teachers and university professors. The responsibility they carry is enormous. Knowledge is very powerful and, when mis-used, it can be very damaging – even more than ignorance. Teachers and professors are seen as the foundation of what we believe to be true. Things that we learn in early education will remain with us forever. To hold such a role in somebody’s life is admirable.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

Might sound a naïve answer, but I must answer: my father. His work ethics and etiquette still guide me today. Those include the simple motto “be on time and do your best.” And when it is time to go home, get changed and go. Very simple but very effective. This helps me today to be present when at work and present when at home. Clear and simple boundaries essential when working freelance.

What practical things do you do to help your personal development?

I attend course every year. Would it be a diploma or a certificate.  My husband says I like my “gold stars” and that I collect them. But as an educator, I believe that to be able to actively learn something new is the best personal development I can engage in. Learn directly how new tools are used and how those effect the learning, how group dynamic in a course can develop. To be a good educator I must allow others to educate me.

What location do you return to for a sense of calm and time out?

The physical location is the library room in my home, in North Dublin. We have space for music, writing, game boards and a beautiful window over a park. We see trees and a lot of sky. My mental location  a view over water. Glendalough, Shannon River or SeaPoint – near the James Joyce tower. Very important mental image in this time of travelling restrictions.

What’s your biggest flaw?

I am relentless. A dear friend of mine once told me that I will never know how to feel content, as I profess that there is always room for improvement.

What aspect of yourself or your behaviour do you privately admire?

Courage – I am a very courageous person. Many aspects of my life have been scary and, even though I felt frightened and nervous, courage and willingness to move forward have helped me to overcome obstacles. This “trained” courage is now integral part of my being.

How about an unfulfilled goal you don’t tell anyone about?

Learning to play the piano. My husband many years ago bought me a keyboard and now it is used by my daughters for their junior piano lessons. I still believe that one day I will learn how to play music and allow myself to express emotions and ideas without letters but my sound.

What are you most proud of in your life?

My knowledge. It is something I actively and constantly work on and it is enough to see the two bookshelves I have in my home to understand how proud I am of what I “know”. I hope I will be remembered as a polymath.

Inspired by “Life Lessons” Irish Times Magazine, Spring 2020