A Transformative Leadership Journey on the Residential Course

 

Jesie Dyos, Operations Manager at Thames Water, one of the UK’s leading water supply and sewage networks in London and the South East, and member of the WISE Young Professionals Board,  embarked on a transformative journey in April 2024 by participating in the 5.5-day residential element of the Leadership Trust’s flagship leadership development programme, Leadership in Management.

Facing challenges in her role such as financial constraints, recruitment issues, and the complexities of leadership, Jesie sought to enhance her leadership skills and overcome various obstacles through a journey of transformative leadership development.

The Leadership in Management delegate embarking on their transformative leadership journeys

Jesie’s Role as a Leader

Jesie, who leads the frontline workforce on clean water at Thames Water, reflected on the parallels between her real-life challenges and those encountered during the course. She shared, “I’m the only female in my team and I’m the youngest, which is a bit similar to the course because I was the only female and the youngest in my group. So, it replicated my real life.”

Having taken on her first leadership role, Jesie acknowledged the challenges of navigating leadership for the first time, “I’ve been in my role a year, and before this role I had no people management skills and I had never done a people management job. I had to just pick up management as I went along.”

Overcoming Obstacles in Leadership

Acknowledging financial constraints, recruitment challenges, and the trials of becoming a leader, Jesie viewed these obstacles as opportunities for growth and improvement in her leadership role. Jesie highlighted the importance of good leadership for a successful business, including navigating team morale and operational pressures to ensure the effective delivery of essential services.

She said, “As a large organisation, there are hurdles in getting orders signed off, which affects the replacement of certain assets. This can lead to single points of failure and supply interruptions. Another challenge is recruitment. We are unable to fill the positions we have lost, putting additional pressure on the technicians. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain high morale in the team.”

Expectations and Gratitude for the Course Opportunity

Embarking on the residential course with curiosity, Jesie expressed her gratitude for the opportunity provided through the WISE Young Professionals Board. WISE is a group of young STEM professionals of diverse backgrounds advocating for opportunities for the next generation in STEM. She shared, “I didn’t really know what to expect, but way before the course had been offered to the WISE Young Professionals Board, I saw a friend at Christmas, and she talked about some of the things that she did when she took part in the course.”

Jesie appreciated the engaging and practical nature of the programme, aligning with her preference for hands-on learning experiences.

Reflecting on the Course Experience

Describing the projects as progressively challenging, Jesie found the feedback sessions invaluable for self-reflection and skills development. She highlighted, “The feedback sessions after each challenge were invaluable, highlighting both strengths and areas for improvement.”

She continued, “some of the feedback I gave to one of the delegates made him cry because he appreciated it so much and that was really touching for me. It’s nice to have that emotional side of it. And I’m trying to bring that more into my team now because when you’re so focused on putting out fires and dealing with issues and then moving on to the next issue, you don’t actually really sit down and go, “that was a really good job” and actually ask people how they feel or give them some emotional feedback.”

Jesie emphasised the transformative impact of the programme on her leadership understanding, particularly in areas of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, assertiveness, and understanding diverse perspectives – integral attributes for successful and effective leadership.

Jesie discovered the power of emotional intelligence through her transformative leadership journey

Valuable Leadership Insights and Key Takeaways

Course Structure and Support

Through the course structure and pacing, Jesie valued the practical aspect and gradual increase in task difficulty and intensity. She shared, “The practical aspect was a lot longer than the theory. Doing is better for me as a learner.” The practical element combined with the feedback sessions gave Jesie valuable insight into the impact of leadership on project success and team dynamics.

Jesie emphasised the importance of celebrating successes, addressing improvements, and implementing key learnings in subsequent challenges to drive personal and professional growth. Jesie also praised the course director, facilitator, and course materials, “Our facilitator was great. He facilitated, but he didn’t lead the conversation. He was good with prompts and making sure that everyone was heard. And if there was anything that was difficult to talk about, he tried to bring it up so we could discuss it instead of it looming over us.

The presentations and the models that the course director went through are great because it’s something that we can refer back to. I’ve actually got them all printed out and laminated in my office just so that I have them there all the time. I think if you have a visual there, it’s a reminder. So having those tools available to us that I can print off and put in different places was useful.”

Adopting Active Listening

“Something significant that I learned on the course is listening. I didn’t realise how much of a selective listener I am. I finish people’s sentences and I start thinking and talking before the person is finished, so that’s another one that I’m trying to embed in work. I start doing two things at once so I can be on a meeting listening to someone while answering emails and then I’m not really listening to the person. I now put my phone in a different room so I don’t look at it, and I put myself on do not disturb every meeting I go into so that I can’t look at any messages and I’m fully listening.”

Truly transformative leadership journeys unlock the power of active listening

Embracing a Transformational Leadership Journey

When asked to describe her experience in one word, Jesie opted for “rewarding,” highlighting a newfound emphasis on emotional intelligence and assertiveness in her leadership approach. She recognised the impact of her behaviour on team dynamics and the significance of prioritising people within the organisation for sustained success.

Communication for Leadership Success

“While I already cared about my people, [the residential course] has taught me how important people really are and how important it is to talk about emotional factors. Without people in an organisation, you wouldn’t have an organisation. You could have all the best assets, but you wouldn’t have an organisation, and it is vital to keep those people happy. You won’t have a high performing company without that. The experience has also shown me how your behaviour has an impact on others.”

Recommendation and Commitment to Continuous Growth

With unwavering certainty, Jesie expressed a 100% likelihood of recommending the Leadership in Management programme to aspiring leaders. She emphasised the incredible impact of the course and the need for more women to take part.

“It’s the best course I could ever, ever imagine going on. What I’ve got out of it is incredible. The people I met were lovely. And I just think it needs more women on it.”

Conclusion

Jesie Dyos’ journey on the Leadership in Management residential course exemplifies the transformative power of embracing continuous learning, self-reflection, and practical skills development as key leadership success factors. Her experience stresses the importance of emotional intelligence and understanding in navigating complex challenges to drive organisational success.

Thank you to Jesie for kindly sharing your experience. If you are curious to learn more about our transformational leadership development programme, you can contact us at info@leadershiptrust.co.

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