44 participants; 23 nationalities; 15 industries. That was the diversity across the bright-eyed attendees at the High Performance Leadership course at the Saïd Business School I recently attended. Representation from all over the world included (among others!) a leading civil servant from Ghana, a mining engineer from South Africa (based in Siberia) and a senior wind turbine engineer from Denmark, as well as a smattering from financial services, charity and legal sectors. Nationalities included New Zealand, Jamaica, and Peru. What we all had in common was our desire to develop and hone our existing skills and learn additional tools to put in our leadership 'bag'. What struck me was the parallels in the issues we faced in our varied walks of professional life.
The program is a week-long intensive and immersive experience, in an open and supportive environment. There was pre-reading and 360 surveys to complete too. Our first task after introductions was to "draw the image of a leader". Despite limited artistic talent, we came up with some interesting themes, heavily infused with a range of cultural factors - from Indian Chakras to Botswanan big five mammals.
As we got into the meat of the course, we had a great blend of academic and practical sessions on topics such as developing high performance teams, improving decision making and leading change. One lesson stood out: Self-awareness is the foundation of any successful leader. Knowing one's own strengths and limitations is a powerful starting point. There were also group coaching sessions where we had an opportunity to talk through some of the issues we face and ask open questions to help tease out ideas and solutions. There were some inspiring stories in our "Leadership narratives" that were shared about challenges overcome and lessons learned.
The social events included dinner at one of the esteemed College halls which was great fun. Given we are a young company with lots going on, being afforded the time, space (and budget) for self-reflection and learning is a fantastic example of how seriously we at CyberCube take professional development. To be an Insurtech start-up mixing with industry leaders from all over the world is a fantastic way to learn best practices and continue professional development for me and all the company.
I for one hope I can deploy some of my new leadership tools in a meaningful way in the daily cut and thrust of building a business with the great team we have. One lesson for me is to articulate gratitude to others who enable me, and something I will try to show more of. So, with a refined toolbag I look upwards to the next peak. And thanks to those who support me.