Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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3 Reviewing your own leadership experience

Reviewing your own leadership experience provides a personal starting point for this course, allowing you to develop a clearer idea of what to do next as you learn more about the different facets of leadership.

A word cloud incorporating words such as leadership, creativity, experience and risk.
Figure 3 Key words that capture the essence of leadership.

There are numerous situations or contexts in which you might have developed your leadership skills. Here are just a few:

  • undertaking a leadership role in the workplace either for a project or team
  • organising a fundraising event or social gathering
  • mentoring someone
  • volunteering to lead a project or a group within your local community
  • taking responsibility in your home due to the illness of a parent or guardian
  • being captain of a sports team
  • holding a committee position within a university society
  • leading a group project as part of your course.

Rebecca Fielding adds her ideas about ways to build your leadership experience both within and outside of the workplace.

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Activity 4 provides some prompts to help you to reflect on your experiences.

Activity 4 Reviewing your leadership experience

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Use the space below to note any occasion, role or activity that has involved you leading in some way. If you were part of a leadership group, think about your specific role.

For each of your examples, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you asked the other people involved who was the leader – would they have said it was you?
  • Did you make a conscious decision to take a leadership role or did the situation evolve around you?
  • Did you enjoy being the leader?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?
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Discussion

The context in which you took on the leadership role may have influenced your perception of the experience. For example, if it felt like a negative experience that was forced upon you, you may be underestimating how much you learned from it. Try to detach your emotions and view the experience more analytically.

Maybe you took on the challenge expecting to fail or dislike the role, but you surprised yourself. Look for a new experience that pushes you further.

Perhaps you sought out the experience but felt disappointed by the outcome. Think about why you feel dissatisfied. Would others agree with your assessment?

Don’t worry if you don’t yet have many examples. Later in the course you will look at ways to build your leadership experience.

Asking yourself if you would have done anything differently is a useful learning tool.

Reflecting on your experiences so far is one aspect of identifying your starting point for this course. Another is to consider your aspirations, and in the next section you’ll reflect on your reasons for choosing the course.

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