Key lessons learned from doing this exercise?

In July I started a new chapter of my life. I quit my job in Norway and moved to Singapore to pursue my MBA with the Nanyang Technological University.

The MBA is an intensive 1 year program spread over three trimesters. I’m being taught by world class faculty and I am learning from a class of rich diversity, with 16 different nationalities, from different functions and industry backgrounds. Every week is packed with modules leaving no room for much else but school.

We started the program with a 6 week course about leadership and how to lead people globally. For every lesson we have been debating real life cases on leadership from around the world, and the course have been truly rewarding. As part of my final assessment I was asked to write a report about my own personal development as a leader and to reflect over the lessons learned in class, applying some of the tools and methods we had been experimenting with.

The final question of the assessment was to identify the lessons learned from doing that particular exercise. With this entry, I would like to share my answer with you.

Questions answer as part of the assessment:

  • Identify your personal profile and key developmental experiences thus far in your life.
  • What were the key lessons you drew from the readings that were personally meaningful to you. How do you integrate the lessons from the readings?
  • What are your personal and career goals?
  • Leadership Philosophy: How would you describe your perspective on what leaders should do?
  • What are your key leadership strengths? What do these strengths deliver for you? Are there any downsides with these?
  • What are the key leadership development needs that you have identified for yourself? Why are these the key needs?

What were the key lessons you learned from doing this exercise?

At first when approaching an exercise like this, it is a little hard to figure out where to start. It would be logical to start with the first question and work your way through the paper, however, you quickly realize that meaningful thoughts and moments of clarity, doesn’t necessarily fit into the chronological order of the assessment. Personally I jumped straight to the goals section, believing that it would be easy and get me started. However, it became very clear to me that I wasn’t confident in stating a set of goals that I would pursue for the next years to come. Realizing that really sat my mind sparkling, because it forced me to reflect over my own personal experiences from my childhood till today.

In the classroom we have worked with a number of tools to identify ones personality type. The classroom experience has been great, however, when asked to put the lessons in writing, you are forced to reflect on your own results. As John Dewey said it “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” And that was exactly the feeling I had after completing this assessment. I forced myself to reflect over the topics and tools covered in class and I had this feeling of actually learning. I wasn’t learning quantum mechanics. I was simply getting to know myself better.

Reaching the final parts of the paper, I started to see this pattern of the lessons learned lining up on this invisible dotted line. Suddenly it appeared obvious that I could relate the leadership lessons learned at LEGO, to my own personal development growth. I could connect Argyris; Teaching Smart People How to learn, with the theory of Liz Wiseman on Rookie Smarts. And this would support my results from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. With other words. What previously appeared to be individual lessons, now seemed to come together as one.

I would like to thank Professor Patrick Gibbons, visiting faculty of the Nanyang Business School, for an inspiring 6 weeks on strategic management and leadership. It has been an enriching experience that has allowed for self-reflection and self-development.