My takeaways from the leadership experiential

As is evident from two fantastic entries by Sylvia and our guest blogger Neha, leadership experiential is clearly the flavor of the week. Let me carry the baton forward and share with you what I thought about it.

It was intense, at times discomforting but always insightful. In a way I am a bit sad that the experiential is now behind us but I am glad that it prepared us for what lies ahead. When I came back from the experiential it took me a while to assimilate all that had taken place over almost 3 days. In fact at some point the whole purpose of the exercise just dawned on me. The “experiential” was meant to make us experience things – simple, Isn’t it? But what does that really mean “experience things”?
In my opinion much of the leadership training is about enabling us to look at ourselves and the world around us in slow motion. It is as simple as that. When we are genuinely able to observe our behavior and that of others around us then we are able to formulate an appropriate “response” to situations as opposed to “reacting” to them. After this experiential I believe that most people who are studying at IMD or any other MBA college for that matter and those who aspire to be here have all the elements of leadership in them – and the discovery journey is really about bringing out those tenets to the surface.
Anand Narasimhan, professor of leadership at IMD, said something that really resonated with me. He said that in any multilateral situation there are two things happening, one is the communication between the parties and the other is generation of enormous data in terms of body language, stances, response times etc. that results from that communication. Too often we are so busy with assimilating what is being said that we miss out on all the other useful data. Given my engineering background this thought isn’t very intuitive to me. I always believed that data is something I create and use during the preparation phase of any interaction, and often behind the computer screens, and once I am called upon to be in a group my job is to present that data or perform that is. So you see, often there is a tendency to separate the preparation and performance phase of any interaction with data relegated to the back chambers of preparation. The “experiential” however was an opportunity to challenge that paradigm and test this hypotheses of using “in-situ data” to make informed and thoughtful decisions. With the tools that we picked up in the experiential we realized that we have the ability to be sensitive to minute details during our interactions and use them skillfully to enhance our performance in the very situation. And that in turn helps to bring out the best in us.  
Having done it once is no guarantee of being able to repeat it but with practice and patience we should be able to enhance our ability to be sensitive to the situations and more thoughtful in our actions. Simulation is always the first step in bridging the gap between theory and real life and this experiential was one great example of that. I think it is safe to say that many lessons learnt in this experiential will serve me well for a long time and hopefully will help me become a better leader.
Kunal