This week Anderson's Class of 2015 got down to business and began its first MBA course, Leadership Foundations. At the moment, we're only a few days into the class but we're already laying the groundwork for our next two years at b-school and beyond. As its name implies, the course builds on leadership frameworks and uses them to reinforce the Anderson credo, "Think in the Next."
Hey, Summer Bloggers! What has this week taught you about leadership and what it means to "Think in the Next"?
Alena Kostenkova: This week's experiences were not easy for me, but who said that they would be? I think I didn't realize how much teamwork means until the Odyssey day of Anderson's Leadership Foundation course. When I was climbing the pole (see below) and fighting with my fear to step up to the top, my team was cheering me on, giving advice and support. Buzz was the one to realize that I am in trouble and he took the initiative of guiding me step by step: he told me where to put my legs, how to help me overcome my fear and finally stand up on this very high pole. Buzz demonstrated the true leadership of giving a hand to a teammate who was struggling: he was calm, patient and very supportive. All of these characteristics will be very helpful in the workplace in the real world.
Buzz Black: From leadership case studies, to classroom debate, to standing on a pole 25 feet high, Leadership Foundations at UCLA Anderson orientation has been an exercise in breaking the mold, questioning assumptions, and "thinking in the next."
Most of us have preconceived notions of what leadership looks like and how leadership is displayed. It can be charisma, organization, powerful rhetoric, or a combination of myriad personality traits. But from the beginning of Leadership Foundations I began to notice that leadership as it should be practiced is a living, breathing thing. Leaders adapt and make sense of differing situations. They know when to take control and be autocratic (ex. leading soldiers in battle or an inexperienced team with a deadline) and they know when to delegate and be democratic (ex. leading a group of highly skilled and experienced workers on a project with a comfortable deadline). Simply put, a leader is able to utilize the best of his/her personal talents and the surrounding resources.
A leader is also courageous and willing to set an example. One of the pinnacles of the Leadership Foundations course is to participate in a day long ropes and team problem solving course provided by Odyssey Teams. We were challenged to climb up a 25 foot totem pole and stand on top of it, turn around 180 degrees, and jump into a trapeze bar--all the while trusting in your teammates to tie your harness correctly and belay you attentively. The top of the totem pole was as large as a small dinner plate, and believe me, standing on it wasn't easy with size 14 feet!!!
Buzz at the top of the Pole. Way to go!
A leader is also a force for positivity and encouragement. During the 8 hour day where we were asked to step out of our comfort zone we were constantly focused on giving positive and consistent vocal feedback to our cohorts. It's so easy to criticize, tear down, and belittle. It's much more admirable and demanding to be positive at all times. As the day sped to an end I noticed that everyone was smiling, patting each other on the back, shouting praise and lifting each other up. UCLA Anderson is a place where people go to do great things, not only for themselves but for others. Every individual is focused on the team. The teams are focused on the individual--careful not to let anyone shy away from growing and stretching. I look forward to applying positivity and goodwill to my leadership opportunities in the next two years.
Daniel Genter: At Anderson, the concepts of leadership and “Think in the Next” are so closely connected that it’s often hard to tell one from the other. And while the slogan may reference a changing business landscape, the Class of 2015 has quickly learned that it's a call to action reflected in everything we do as UCLA MBAs.
As we've become close with our classmates (through mixers, team challenges and an endless schedule of social events), fund raised for Challenge for Charity (a nonprofit that supports charities like Special Olympics) and completed the Leadership Foundations course, we've each honored the Anderson credo in our own unique way. Whether conquering stereotypes to connect with a new classmate, looking beyond oneself to give back to the LA community or stretching personal conceptions of what it means to lead, we've all taken the first steps toward being the leaders we strive to become by leaning on each other and reflecting inward on ourselves. This is "Think in the Next." And this is Anderson.
I'm all in.
Daniel Genter, MBA '15 - Follow UCLA Anderson on Twitter.