We are a little over six weeks into the MBA program, with our first exams in 10 days. Now we face the last lap of what has been a challenging, exhausting and rewarding module. Most of us have mastered the art of juggling multiple assignments, quizzes, startup deliverables and diminishing levels of sleep – with style.
An important “pitstop” during this period was the 3-day Leadership Lab that my friend, Juan, wrote about recently. Since that experience, we have been working in our teams for about two weeks, and the impact is quickly becoming visible.
Working in teams is central to the IMD MBA experience. In this high intensity environment, teams have a higher chance of succeeding if they leverage on the strengths of all members. That may sound nice, but first the team needs to be aware of what these strengths are. The process of reaching this awareness is incomplete without the equally important understanding of each person’s weaknesses. And this is where things get interesting.
In our business lives, we are hard-wired to present the best versions of ourselves. Our weaknesses slide into our blind spots, and most business ecosystems are happy to have us believe they don’t exist. During the Leadership Lab, our coaches facilitated a series of simulation group exercises. These brought to the surface our “helpful” and “not-so-helpful” team behaviours. The invitation then was to have candid discussions within our groups on our mutual observations. We soon realized that honesty and care for each other must be well balanced for the best results.
In this regard, I would describe the role of our coaches as that of an orchestra conductor. In an orchestra, all parts must play to their strengths, individually as well as together. We also learned firsthand that the maximum growth takes place in the zone of discomfort. This is especially true when it is approached with humility. Our coaches constantly nudged us to stay in that zone for the period of those three days.
A few days later, we had the first of many “Right vs Right” conclaves, another part of the Leadership Stream led by Professor Jennifer Jordan. We debated on kindness v/s honesty as an effective communication mechanism, which neatly tied up our team learnings. With these experiences, it is safe to say that we have all turned a corner for the better. Now we are ready to approach the rest of our MBA journey with heightened awareness.
Is that all? Of course not. To make sense of this “pizza oven” process that each of us are going through at an individual level, we will each have a dedicated psychoanalyst. This person will work with us throughout the year, as a safe “parking space”. They will help us make sense of our intense and continuous personal transformation process. We have already had some very stimulating introductory conversations with our probable analysts. Once we have found our fit, our first sessions will commence in March. Stay tuned!