LEAD After Party: Leadership Practicum (Part 1)

Coming from a non-traditional background of majoring in biomedical engineering and working as a software developer, I have to admit that I was nervous about coming to business school. Not only did I have a lot to learn in the classroom (since I had only taken one business course during my entire undergraduate experience), but I also had a lot to learn outside the classroom when it came to management and leadership styles. The flexible curriculum at Booth really helped me brush up on my business skills for the former, but Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) was what really helped me excel at the latter.

As Michelle mentioned in an earlier post, LEAD is a dynamic course where first-year students focus on developing the most critical aspects of leadership. While it was a great experience, it only lasts for the first quarter of your first year. Personally, I felt there were additional leadership skills I wanted to develop beyond what I gained within the 3 months.

Fortunately, last year, the LEAD office developed the Leadership Practicum program, a series of modules that focus on different aspects of leadership. Unlike LEAD, Leadership Practicum is a voluntary experience outside of the classroom, so you can apply for whichever module you feel fits your needs best. Each module consists of a bit of individual work, leadership coaching, and a final deliverable. The four modules are:

  1. Potential: Explore your signature strengths and areas of development through assessments and research
  2. Development: Select a growth area you’d like to improve and work with your coach to create and implement a self-development plan
  3. Engage: Build your communication and public speaking skills through learning how to effectively engage an audience
  4. Vision: Develop your leadership vision through exploring the concept of purpose and how it can guide your ongoing development

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take three of them: Potential, Development, and Engage.

During the Potential module, I took the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) and the Hogan Motives, Values, and Preferences Inventory (MVPI). Using of these assessments along with regular leadership coaching, I became more self-aware of my strengths and development needs. The HDS helped me determine my derailers under stress while the MVPI showed me what motivates and drives me. Working with my coach, I came up with a game plan of how I will leverage my natural strengths and interests to determine a leadership style that works for me.

The next module I took was the Development module, which helped me put my game plan into action. Working with Terri Brady from the Leadership Development office, I laid out the differences between leadership and management and figured out what I needed to become an effective leader. We worked on developing an executive presence, something I felt that I lacked from my career in software development because I rarely had to give presentations or lead people. My fear of public speaking really inhibited me from believing in and fulfilling my potential, which is why the Engage module was so great.

Next time, I’ll talk about my experience with the Engage module!

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