Leadership can be hard to define. If you ask three people what leadership means, you’re likely to get three very different answers. It has been said leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Perhaps that’s why, according to a recent study, last year over 1,200 books were published with the word ‘leadership’ in the title.
How does one make sense of such an integral yet broad-ranging and diverging topic?
Last month the 2017-2018 Leadership Winnipeg class dove into that question, knowing the answer was probably a little bit different for everyone in the room.
The morning began with a presentation from Volunteer Manitoba. Did you know the organization originally began as a way to provide volunteer assistance for wartime community projects in the 1940s? Or that Manitoba ranks among the top provinces for volunteerism and donations per capita?
Following the presentation, the class took a condensed session that could be described as ‘everything you need to know’ about board governance. The class learned the different ways boards are structured, an individual’s role within a board and about Board Connect, presented by the Winnipeg Foundation, which aims to create a new way for boards and volunteers to connect.
The Leadership Winnipeg program does a great job covering the wide range of topics required to be an effective leader. No two days are the same, and additionally, each class is often broken up into different segments designed to deliver a well-rounded experience.
In the afternoon, the class shifted gears and divided into teams. Each group tried to lower a lightweight, skinny wooden stick about two meters long from shoulder height to the floor – using only one finger from each team member. This surprisingly difficult exercise was a lesson in teamwork and designed to illustrate how people with different personalities work in the context of a team.
Perhaps not immediately obvious to all, the program reminds you that to be an effective leader you have to know yourself. While we all intrinsically understand who we are, we don’t often spend enough time understanding why we are. Leadership Winnipeg carves out two sessions during the year to provide a better understanding on why we are the way we are. Upon understanding your own personality – including strengths, weaknesses and work style – you are better able to understand those of others. This is very important, because when it comes down to it, good leadership hinges on being able to work with others in an effective and cohesive way.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with such discussion, centered around the Informz personality profile, which helps people understand themselves and others. A recent study confirmed that 90% of top performers are highly self-aware, compared to the bottom fifth of performers, who were shown to have low self-awareness. Clearly, knowing oneself can help develop traits needed to be a great leader.
So what is Leadership Winnipeg like? In short: a journey. You could peruse those previously mentioned 1200 plus books that were published last year or you could ask those around you but perhaps one of the greatest gifts from the program so far is the surprising revelation that you shouldn’t forget to look within.