Sometimes you’ll be wrong
Matt Grinsted is Head of Registrars and Deputy Inventory Manager at Sotheby’s. He’s taken two Leadership Trust courses — Leadership Foundations and Leadership in Management — and says the experience is transformative.
What were you expecting?
“Ha! When someone says words like ‘management course’ you can’t avoid that preconceived notion of pretentious language and some Americanized idea of ‘motivation’.
“But it’s so far from that. Informal isn’t really the right word, but there’s something about the course that’s… welcoming. You’re not following a dictated timetable; as the ‘student’ you’re the focus and the participant and the leader of it all at the same time.
“People talk, theoretically, about experiential learning and very few actually manage it. But this is what I see true experiential learning as being: rolling up your sleeves and working on something where what you’re learning relates to real, day-to-day life, and pinpoints your needs.”
What would you say to others about to give it a try?
“No matter how much people warn you — and they do — you’re just not prepared for how emotionally shattered the end of the course leaves you.
“You walk away and all you want to do is get straight back to the office and put what you’ve learned into practice. You recognise there are so many areas where you can be better, and where you can have an impact on others; an instant impact.
“But then there are the longer-term strategies too, the bigger changes you need to make within yourself. The takeaway you get, particularly from that last session of the Leadership in Management course, is something that stays with you forever.
“Whatever beliefs and thoughts you have about yourself, the experience of hearing positive feedback about yourself from others is transformative. You go away thinking ‘I can achieve things’.
“For example, you start to care more about how your team are feeling than how they are performing, because now you know that the better they feel about themselves, the better they will perform. It goes hand in hand, and you can influence that.”
How did it make you feel about leadership generally, particularly in the current business climate?
“In generations gone by you could predict, accurately, where teams and businesses were going. At the minute, the question of where we’ll be, even in the next five years, is not something anyone can answer with confidence.
“But that’s fine. The fact that you don’t know the answer is acceptable.
“The old, prescribed view of a leader is someone who makes decisions and makes them instantly with complete confidence of what’s going to happen and never has to change their mind. But that’s not now. Now it’s about choosing a path you hope is the right one, knowing you might need to row back on it at some point… and that’s ok.”
What did the courses give you the confidence to do?
“They helped me deal with areas like being consistent, being confident in your own abilities, and being comfortable with the fact that sometimes you’ll be wrong. Each and every one of us will be wrong at some point, and that doesn’t make us less of a leader.
“Also, when you sit around a table with people who may be far further up the food chain than you, they’ll ask you to make a decision and you’ll probably try to give one quickly in order to impress. What you should say is ‘well, I need a bit of time on that’. It’s challenging, but it’s the right thing to do. The Leadership Trust courses showed me that, and they gave me the confidence to actually do it.”
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