Global Leadership Summer Programme – what I’ve learnt
Today is my final day on the University of California, Berkeley’s Global Leadership and Innovation Programme – and it’s been the most fantastic and transformative experience. We’ve worked in global teams, practised global leadership skills, and improved our intercultural communication, all in a short-but-intense two weeks. I’m sad to see the programme come to a close, but the knowledge I’ve gained and people I’ve met means that the experience will stay with me for a long time. There are a few key lessons and mindsets that have really resonated with me throughout the programme, so I’ll share them here.
Practise active listening
At the start of the programme, we were introduced to various community agreements, and I found this one particularly fascinating. Active listening is the practice of listening to understand, rather than listening to react. It encourages the listener to truly understand and engage with the perspective of the speaker, rather than focusing on what their own response will be. Active listening fosters a deep awareness and curiosity for other people, and allows us to decentre from our own perspectives. It’s a skill I’ve been focusing on strongly throughout the programme, and a skill that’s actually a lot harder than you might think – but it allows us to see things a little differently.
The need for perfection hinders progress
We were also introduced to Design Thinking; a certain way in which to develop innovative ideas to solve problems. The process was structured, fast-paced, and often very challenging, but truly worthwhile. One of the facets of Design Thinking is the generation of lots and lots of ideas to get to a really good and well-rounded idea. As a perfectionist, I wasn’t particularly great at the idea generation stage, as I much prefer to focus on developing one idea until it’s my version of ‘perfect’. However, my team and I were pushed to abandon our perfectionism in favour of creativity. We were pushed to generate a ton of ideas – many of which were fairly average or simply unrealistic. That didn’t matter, because the point was to be creative. In fact, the focus on making progress rather than making perfect meant that our end product really felt innovative and interesting. In a mere two weeks, we’d been creative and felt like we really had, well, innovated. Aiming for progress was way more effective than aiming for perfect, and actually, being forced to break from perfectionism was liberating. I hope that I can continue to focus on making progress rather than being drawn into perfectionism, as I’ve seen quite clearly that perfection hinders creativity.
Push your boundaries and take up space
From the start of the course, we were taught that we can and should take up space, whilst making sure to create space for other people. We were taught to push our limits and take various opportunities throughout the two weeks, and to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones. From the get-go, I found that this programme made me push my boundaries, in a good way. I first heard about this programme through Warwick, who were offering fifteen funded places. I had very little hope that I’d receive one of the funded places because of its competitive nature, but I applied anyway. It is through Warwick’s and my department’s support, through pushing my own boundaries, and through taking up some space, that I have had this fantastic opportunity. I encourage you to take up some space too – and perhaps to consider applying for this programme in the future.