George attended a one-day, in-person course at the IMechE’s London HQ in September 2022. He acknowledges he was a little apprehensive at first: “I was expecting there to be some quite high up management personalities, since the course was on leadership practice. So, I was there, thinking, ‘I'm not a leader!”. But his concerns were quickly assuaged; of the six other attendees, he says there was a broad range of backgrounds and experience level. Some were like him, with no leadership experience, others had just been promoted and wanted a grounding in theory, while others were already quite senior.
The day involved a mix of teaching on leadership theories as well as a variety of discussions and groupwork. One thing George instantly liked was that there was no PowerPoint: “rather than just sitting there for eight hours looking at a screen” he says, the class was much more dynamic, and it allowed for plenty of discussion.
A lot of ground was covered during the day, but one thing he really took from the course was the notion of the learning curve, and “how you should tailor your leadership depending on where [the person you manage] is on the learning curve”. For example, a junior employee who has fewer skills and less confidence requires a leader who can give adequate instruction and feedback. More experienced employees might need different kinds of motivation, depending on where they are on the skill and confidence matrix.
The course also provided valuable insights into needs within a project. “You've got your task needs, individual needs, team needs, and how to balance all of those, as well as different levels of delegation”.
There were also discussions around the sorts of soft skills that leaders need. Using the learning curve concept, George explains that the class would break into groups and talk about “at this stage of the learning curve, what do you say to that person? And also, how do you say it?”. This helped with understanding “how to approach each situation”.
Looking back on the course, George says he would certainly recommend it. And he stresses that “you don’t need to feel you have to have leadership experience to do it; everyone’s got situations where they’ve had to lead and can apply it in their own life”.