Developing-Leaders-issue - 23- Spring - 2016

Executive Development Developing Leaders Issue 23: 2016 | 35 Exercises Summary The following gives an overview of a selection of the exercises that we led executives through during the day. Exercise # 1 -- ‘First Impressions’ The goal of this first exercise was for participants to get to know each other and the horses and to practice observing own and others’ behaviour and to report back on it with specifics. Each team got a set of tools (e.g., brushes) to groom one of the horses. Participants did not receive instructions on how to use these tools; instead, the ‘task’ was to figure out the likes and dislikes of their new ‘teammate’, the horse. To prepare for the subsequent reflection and discussion, we asked participants to pay attention to how they were entering into a new team/situation, what the first impression is that others form of them, and how they form first impressions of others. In this exercise, what becomes immediately apparent is the division between those who are task-focused -- participants who literally go and groom the horse and come back -- and those who are relationship-focused, petting the horse and building a relationship with the animal (while sometimes even forgetting to complete the task at hand, namely, grooming). The exercise provides executives with an instant mirror against which to view their leadership style. “One of my development areas in building trust, is the intimacy portion as in the trust equation. I have been taking steps to develop this area further, but they have all been conscious active efforts. So I was blown away to see that without even knowing I was doing it, I had my hand on Blaze the entire time. Is this a part of me that I have always had, but didn’t know? Or is it easier to connect with animals at the most basic level, without words? I think I will need to reflect on this more, but this simple experience did prove one thing, I do have it in me, naturally.” Executive MBA Student. Exercise # 2 -- ‘Building Awareness of and Modifying Leadership Styles’ The goal of this exercise was for participants to become aware of their leadership style. We emphasized that there was no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to lead, but that different people have different styles and that different approaches may be effective in different situations. In this exercise, participants were guided by the questions ‘How do you lead a new team member (the horse)?’ and ‘Which effect does your behaviour have in this specific situation?’ Their task was to lead a horse away from their group to the end of an enclosed area and back. While completing the exercise, one of their peers recorded a video that they later reviewed together. In a second round, participants had a chance to re-do the exercise, incorporating their own and their peers’ suggestions for changing their approach. We prompted them to think about what it felt like to adopt a different leadership style and what effect it has. In this exercise, executives adopt a variety of leadership postures -- some leading assertively from the front with others leading gently from the back, some leading with energy and conviction with others leading with fear and doubt, some holding the horse on a short line with others giving the horse freedom to explore. These are typically the leadership styles executives use back in the workplace and, in this way, the exercise provides executives with real time feedback on their leadership style. “As we learned by looking at the videos of our interaction with the horse, when we believe we are acting in full confidence, there are small gestures, body positions, voice tone or looks that will either tell others about a lack of confidence, doubt or create contradictions. It is surprising to see how what I was thinking I felt, was not