Becoming a Leader: The Finale

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In this final blog I try my upmost to summarise what has been a genuinely life changing year for myself and others on the Capgemini Future Leaders Programme 2018.

If I am honest, I have been putting this off for a while because I didn’t think I could ever sum up in words the journey that I have been on and the brilliance of the programme that has helped me achieve it all – but I will try my best.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, the self-exploration process that you go through on FLP leads everyone to have very individual and unique journeys which, for some, has culminated in quite significant life changes. From our class of 45 people in 2018, at least 2 have made substantial career changes within Capgemini and 2 have made the leap to actually try something different outside of Capgemini. Whilst this is a leadership programme, yes, I like to think of it as more of an encouragement programme, and whilst it is sad to see a few of our friends leave us, it is even more wonderful to see that they have found the thing that is best for them, and that they have had the encouragement and confidence to go for it.

My journey was a little different in that it has been made up of what I like to think of as lots of mini life epiphanies. These mini moments didn’t lead me into taking a full 180 in my life, but, when added together day by day, they have made a substantial difference to the way I work, the way I lead, and ultimately the way I live my life. I have called them my Mini Turning Points.

My Mini Turning Points

(1) My first turning point came during the “Emerging Leadership” part of the course, the residency in Les Fontaine where I was faced with the (somewhat brutal) honesty and awakening around the extremes of my Leadership – very controlling in some situations, but too nice and too democratic in others. The reason this was a turning point for me was because I was made to see that impact that those extremes were having on other people. That was a difficult pill to swallow, but then again, we all had difficult pills to swallow. And so with the help of my fellow classmate and coach buddy, I have been able to put into practice leadership styles that are on a scale rather than extremes! This has certainly made things less stressful for me, and I know has been valued by my teams and my clients. #insight.

(2) The second turning point was the series of masterclass sessions run by Capgemini leaders in areas such as commercial, Active Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability. Beyond having my eyes opened and learning important information in these ares, what struck me the most was the realisation that it is my responsibility to put these into practice. That might sound trivial, but we often assume that there are other people in other areas of the business whose job it is to look after these things, and so we don’t need to worry about it. But we do. And ultimately, it always comes down to people – we rely on people to implement these practices and to change them when they believe they are no longer fit for purpose. Our Active Inclusion initiatives are a prime example of this, and something that is changing continually thanks to the efforts of individuals. As a team leader, I have started to work by example in making conversations more inclusive, widening my view when resourcing for a project, and closing the shutters on my unconscious bias. #initiative #implementing change.

(3) My third – and perhaps favourite 🙂 – turning point has been the change that I have made in my presentation style. Prior to our second residency in Reading, I think I had largely taken this for granted and – if I’m honest – didn’t think I needed to work on it. Boy was I proven wrong! I had my eyes (and my voice) opened to different styles of presentation, through the hilarious mediums of role play and acting.Shameful acting aside – what this gave to me was the confidence and the proof that I can bestow a different presence and a different impact on my audience – being bold and assertive, or light hearted and friendly. As a leader, my presentations often have an aim or objective of something I want from the audience, and by utilising the right presentation style, I have been able to ensure this happens.

For me, this particular journey culminated in our final residency in London where we had to present our pitch to Capgemini VP’s and sponsors. I pushed myself to deliver an impactful presentation in a different style, and was proud to receive a prize for the change I had shown (yes – all the chocolates are now gone!) #individuality

(4) My fourth turning point has been a little longer in the making but certainly worth it. For a long time, I have been given the feedback that I need to learn to delegate more. I’m sure this isn’t uncommon, and it is almost a fact of life that leaders need to go through. But I really struggled with it – how could I delegate work to others when I know they are already busy? How could I delegate work to someone that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself? These, and many more worries, were holding me back quite significantly. Through the help and support of my fantastic coach, Deborah, from Maynard Leigh, she helped me unpick these mental blockers and have the confidence to try. I have since delegated much more than I have before (though it is still a progress) and as a result I have had much more time to focus on other things, and I have been able to witness others around me flourish in being given additional responsibility. That in itself is enough to make me want to try more and encourage others. #involve

(5) I can’t finish off without mentioning the spectacular finale of our residency in London which ended with our class putting on a (self-written!) play at the Savoy Theatre. Whilst it might seem like a bit of fun on the face of it, this for me epitomised everything that the Future Leaders Programme had enabled us to do. As a team of 45 people, we were able to collaborate in creating a half decent plot line, encourage one another to play a part, and put our impactful presentation skills to use on the stage for the final performance. From those watching in the audience – colleagues, friends and family, the resounding message was astonishment at the difference they had witnessed in all of us from our first tentative meeting back in April. #improvise #inspire

 

Knowing the changes that I have made and being able to see the difference that those changes have made for myself and those around me has been hugely rewarding, but my year was absolutely topped off recently when I heard from both my Manager and my Reviewees that they had noticed the change in me too.

 

A programme like no other

As I mentioned back in April, writing blogs about the Future Leaders Programme is hard, partly because we can’t give too much away, but also because the title in itself does not do justice to the gravity of the programme.

We are all different and our differences are celebrated. Most other leadership “courses” or programmes are geared towards teaching you a specific skill or tool for your toolkit, which can only lead to a very dull place where everyone is doing the same thing and trying to become the same leader. The Future Leaders Programme is infinitely more subtle and yet powerful in the changes it encourages in all of us, and made possible only by the fantastic support team across Capgemini and Maynard Leigh. I am immensely grateful for having the opportunity to make my own progress, but I am also privileged to have shared this with others and witnessed their growth too.

Our leadership journey has only really just begun, and I can’t wait to meet those of you who might make up the cohort of #CFLP19.

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