Becoming a Leader: 1 month in

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This is blog post #2 of my experience on the Capgemini Future Leaders Programme 2018 so far.

For those who read the first blog post, in which I spoke about my anticipations for the programme kick off, you might be wondering what actually happened at the kick off and what has happened since. Timed to perfection (depending on which way you look at it!), the day of the kick off also coincided with the first day of my holiday.

So – precisely 1 month later – I am going to recap on the day of the kick off and some of the key messages that I took away from it and some final updates on what has been happening in the programme since then.

Recap on the kick off

The programme kick off began at 12pm on Monday 16th April, at which time the members of the class of 2018 were sent to the hotel buffet to have lunch and begin to get to know one another.

Regardless of what was to happen next, I thought this was a fantastic start! In my last blog post I wrote – albeit as a little joke – that people bond better when food involved. Joking aside, this turned out to be a great way to get people talking which, unlike more conventional courses, didn’t rely on the instructor to facilitate an ice breaker.

The responsibility was placed on us to speak out, and in doing so, I was both overwhelmed and intrigued by all the people around me. I discovered teams and departments within Capgemini that I didn’t even know existed, and I met people who are all on different stages of their leadership journey; some who are about to be in a leadership role for the first time, some who have been leaders before but want to better adapt to modern challenges, and some who anticipate their potential as a leader and are looking for encouragement and confidence to get started. It was extremely humbling to learn about different areas of the business, the challenges that people face, and what they are seeking from the programme.

After lunch we sat through a couple of presentations from both the Capgemini programme team and the coaches from Maynard Leigh. For those who might not have heard of Maynard Leigh (which was me before April this year), a simple Google search will tell you that many of their coaches come from theatre backgrounds and specialise in communication coaching, as well as leadership coaching more broadly. So whilst I use the term “presentation”, the way in which the Maynard Leigh coaches introduced themselves was actually far beyond a presentation and left me feeling highly impressed, if not a little speechless too! I won’t give the game away for those who may get the opportunity to meet Maynard Leigh in the future, but safe to say it was definitely a special way to mark an introduction! The rest of the afternoon involved 3 activities, all of which we did in different groups, allowing us to get to work with almost everyone out of the 50 members.

Ending the day on a high, and admittedly a little exhausted, there were some closing statements from the alumni of the programme and the opportunity for us as the class of 2018 to ask any questions from those who have been through it before. The resounding message I remember from all of them was to make the most of it, which doesn’t just mean turning up and doing the work. It means being honest about your strengths and weaknesses, being willing to be vulnerable and allow the coaches to support you, and to truly practice what we learn both at work and at home.

Next Steps on the Future Leaders Programme

Since the kick off, a few other things have been happening.

First, I returned from holiday and found myself with what seemed like a never ending to do list which left me feeling quite stressed. I was conscious that, as I take on more leadership responsibility in the future, I wanted to find a better way to deal with situations like this. So I sought some advice from my boss about how I could better manage my workload, which you can read more about here.

Second, We were each given a book to read in preparation for our leadership coaching session in Les Fontaines (Capgemini University) in June. The book is called “Leading The Way” and it focuses on the 7 Is of leadership; Insight, Individualism, Initiate, Involve, Inspire, Implement and Improvise. Together, these form the core structure of the coaching programme that we will go through, and as I read more of the book, I will write more posts about what I am learning along the way (caution – I am a slow reader!)

We have also started the process of undergoing a Leadership Assessment, as a way to analyse and understand where we are now, so that our coaching can be tailored and focused. This involves us as individuals completing the assessment about how we see ourselves, but also sending it to 3 other people to complete anonymously. This is a really great opportunity to not only gain greater understanding about our leadership capabilities, but also about our self-awareness – in other words, does our assessment of ourselves differ from how others see us? And that might be for positive or negative reasons, but both are reasons and opportunities to reflect and improve. This is very easy to say on paper, and I am sure that I will be overflowing with nerves before receiving the results. This is part of the reason why the programme advises on making sure that you have support around you, whether that be through colleagues, friends or family, because some of these messages might be quite difficult to face, or might be something you need everyone’s input on in order to take the next step forwards.

Given that we are in month 1 of 8, I’m still feeling more excited than nervous at the moment. I fully expect this to change, but for now, I am looking forward to finding out who my coach will be and occupying my train journeys with a new book!

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