Becoming a Leader: Day 1

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Today marks the first official day of the Capgemini Future Leaders Programme for the class of 2018 #CFLP2018.

With participants travelling from as far afield as India, this is the day where we will all get to meet each other for the first time in London and kick start what will be an 8-month journey together. I am going to refer to this day as D1, and I will write other blogs as the programme continues.

Being careful not to give the game away for any future classes, I won’t provide too much detail about the activities themselves, but I will provide an account of what myself and the group learn, the challenges and progress we make, and the feelings that I experience throughout each stage. The latter, as you will soon read, is an important part of the programme.

So, for D1, I am going to introduce the programme (for those who might not have heard about it), a summary of my reasons for applying, and my feelings in the run up to meeting my fellow FLP team members!

What is the Future Leaders Programme?

While I am only at the start of this programme, from what I have learnt throughout the application process and from alumni, I think one word that I would chose to describe it is “unconventional”.

Intrigued?

Well, if we think about what it takes to be a leader at Capgemini, be that of a team, department or project, there are certain traits that might come to mind. You might expect a leader to be an expert in their subject matter, able to have challenging and persuasive conversations, motivational and encouraging to the members of their team, and innovative in generating new ideas. These are all fantastic traits, and are skills that can be supported via various training courses. However, what this programme recognises above and beyond other courses is that at the centre of it all is an individual – you. It recognises that what makes you tick is different from the next person, and that a huge part of being able to become a leader is gaining a greater understanding of yourself so that you can adapt, change, or stay consistent where necessary.

While that might sound obvious to many of you, we don’t often get the chance or time to focus on these aspects of ourselves, let alone know how to address them if we have had the time to reflect. The programme provides time and activities to enable this self-reflection, and trained coaches to help you move forwards.

Additionally, some of the traits that we have as individuals, or the things that make us tick, can be deeply rooted in our life history. Confronting them and changing them can be nerve racking and scary at times. This is one of the main reasons that I felt the Future Leaders Programme would be useful to me at this stage of my career.

Why I applied to the programme

The first thing I should say here is that the programme is not a self-application process. Business sponsors from your Delivery Unit (in my case Apps) nominate you in the first instance, which you then follow up on with a written application, explaining the reasons why you think you would benefit from what the programme has to offer.

There are many reasons I could list, but I am going to focus on explaining one of my traits that makes me tick. Not unlike many people, I am most content when those around me are also content. This might sound like a “nice” trait to have, but it can cause me difficulty and confusion at times. For example, because of this, I often find confrontation difficult, and at risk of offending someone or hurting their feelings, I might often hide what I want to say and tell people what they want to hear. On the other hand, I know that difficult messages sometimes need to be conveyed in order for our work to progress, and that giving the message in the right way should be helpful. This is a catch 22 that I often find myself in, and sometimes I think the old adage of “treat people how you would like to be treated” doesn’t always apply. We are all different, and will give and receive messages in different ways. I am hoping that the programme will help me understand this more, and what I can do about it to find a balance that helps me convey what I want to say in the right way for those around me.

Feelings for D1

As is usually the case for kick-off events like this, part of me is expecting there to be some form of ice breaker to help us all get to know each other. However, anticipating the programme to be “unconventional” I am intrigued as to what this could be – or if there will even be an ice breaker at all!

As I mentioned earlier, fellow colleagues are travelling from various offices globally to be here for the kick-off event. Not only are we from different locations and offices, but different delivery units, of different grades and specialisms. Having been somewhat cocooned in the world of Apps and my own capability team for some time, this is my first major encounter with so many different areas of the business. This partly makes me feel nervous – thinking about how I might strike up a conversation with someone new or try to understand what they do. It also makes me feel excited though – as I will be in a room with fellow colleagues who have also decided, for their own reasons, that the programme is going to benefit them. I am looking forward to understanding their own stories, and to see if we have any similar traits that we are looking to develop.

So here’s to D1 and getting to know my fellow team members, and I will be sure to report back on any intriguing team ice breakers, surprise activities, and the food – because I’m a firm believer that people bond better when food is involved!

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