MBA students take a leap of faith in the intensive three-day program designed to give future leaders insight into themselves – and each other – with help from their coaches 

One of the reasons I chose IMD of all the business schools was that IMD is very keen on developing leadership, and invests a lot into it. I was therefore very much intrigued at what the three-day ‘Leadership Lab’ would bring to the cohort.  

Today, coming back from the last Leadership Lab, I would like to reflect on what I have experienced and learned throughout the three days, each stretching from 8am to almost 10pm. 

Working as a team: Yonjai Lee, Kieran Sy, Thiago Nascimento, Bent Bille-Brahe-Selby, and Shiv Shwetha in the Leadership Lab. 

The group exercises 

Similar to the first day of IMD, we were all in groups to do some exercises together. Those exercises allowed us to observe the group dynamics, characteristics, and roles that were habitual, natural, and newly formed. By going through the activities – which brought us much joy and some frustration! – we experimented with roles and objectives in the ‘safe environment’ created within the group. 

This led us to open up more to each other, and it felt like we had a peek into each other’s souls. Some were very brave to bring up what could be very uncomfortable to put in the light, but the truthfulness rippled through the group, creating a chain reaction which led to more genuine talks. Also, through sharing, we realized that despite being from different backgrounds, we shared many commonalities that strengthened our cohesiveness with each other.  

Group feedback 

At the end of each activity, we had review and feedback sessions with coaches and the group members. Some were expected, some were uncomfortable, some were enlightening, and some gave food for thought. The constructive feedback we exchanged caused us to reflect on what we are good at, what we can work on to improve, and what we could explore to make an impact on ourselves. 

Teamwork: students gather to present their projects to the group

Once, I was given a comment, “You have excellent observation skills. When you use it, it will be of great value. But if you don’t use it, the value it can bring to the table will be zero.” While the comment was fortifying what knew I had as an asset, it also lifted a blindfold that I did not know I was wearing.   

One-to-one coaching 

Coincidentally, a recent event outside the classroom was pressing in my mind. Although I initially thought to ask for the coach’s feedback about myself on the three days’ activities, we ended up talking about the event, and the coach, Alison Andersen, asked me about my day. Through talking with her, I realized that what forms my actions, reactions, and thoughts today are all connected with my past. Changing the past is impossible, but changing the future is possible by making different choices from what past me would have made. To bring it forth, my coach gave me the advice to keep a log of ‘datapoints.’ 

I know that I will need to change myself to have impactful leadership in the future. Though I acknowledge that changes are difficult to make – I have, after all, spent decades forming them to become the person I am today – I am working hard to make those changes happen.   

Yonjai Lee

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