I am in the final leg of the Concordia MBA program. I am only two semesters away from walking across the stage and adding three little letters to my business card. In past blogs, I have detailed overcoming struggles; I have talked about overcoming fears and accepting change. I’ve learned a lot through these struggles.
This semester has been my most challenging for many reasons. This semester I took two 15-week courses (Operations Management and Marketing, Economics and Competitive Strategy). The second year has really taken a shift from “learning” to “applying” as I was introduced to case studies in both classes. As we prepared case studies over organizations like Smucker’s, McDonald’s and Carnival Cruise Line, we applied principles from other classes such as Finance, Marketing and Organizational Change. In our papers and presentations, we acted as consultants communicating to these organizations board members. It took me a while to adapt to this style of learning but ultimately I know it has prepared me for my future career opportunities.
I have also been challenged through working with my teammates. The Concordia MBA strongly emphasizes teamwork, as many projects in “the real world” are done in collaboration. We are placed on assigned learning teams and this semester, the game was changed when we were assigned new teams. At first, I decided to take a backseat on the team to adapt to my new team members. After frantically preparing our first case study the night before, I decided the backseat was not the place for me.
I began emailing my teammates on Fridays (we have class Thursday), to outline any projects we had been assigned and to begin dialogue on deliverables. This worked well for us for many weeks. However, one week, I made the assumption that no response meant we were all in agreement. With that, I moved on with our assignment. A few days later, as I presented my research to the team, I was questioned on why I was making decisions for the team and was called a “dictator”. After we addressed the issue as a team, we came to a consensus on how we would handle the project.
As my instructor so brilliantly put it last week in class: “Beware of the Jesus Christ Syndrome.”By this he meant, the one to first speak their voice and step up as a leader is often torn down or crucified. As I learned this semester, answering the call to leadership is not always sunshine and rainbows.Sometimes it’s just downright ugly. It takes courage (and thick skin!) to step up as a leader. But someone has to do it! Otherwise we’d be looking at policy makers drafting bills the night before or coaches developing a game strategy at kick-off. It takes courage and will to answer that call to leadership – and hey, maybe at times your leadership journey is in the backseat and not the driver’s seat.