It is only in quiet moments of self-reflection that a person can introspect where one stands in life. Self-reflection gave me a clear picture of what qualities I gained during Professional Skills and Ethics course and which skills I need to work on in order to be successful both in personal and corporate life. After reflecting on my personal skills and competencies, it became crystal clear that to grow in life personally and professionally, one needs to possess learning agility attribute. Learning agility is the ability to adapt to changes and to remain open to new ways of thinking. In this self-reflection, I emphasised on attributes inherited from Skill development workshop (SDW) and Case analysis workshop (CAW) which played a major role in my learning agility. Learning agility has five facets, out of which Innovating, Performing, Reflecting, and Risking enables learning agility and Defending impedes it.
Innovating is developing progressive techniques of completing a task. One such experience where we innovated to adapt to new environment was during our seminar activity. The activity was called land far-far away. It consisted two huge groups with different ideologies and ways of communicating amongst themselves. Here when I entered another group, I observed how important it is to come out of comfort zone of your own community and learn about another culture. Here, Innovating comes into play as I began with observing how that group communicated with each other. The group used ‘yaya papa’ words to communicate and was female oriented. Whereas, the group I belonged to was stricter and male oriented. This was holding me back as I could not understand what they were implying. So I initiated by observing what they were exchanging and which words were they speaking on exchange of paper slips. Upon challenging myself to become an active member of the activity, I tried to interpret what conversation the group was trying to have. Here innovating played a major part as I continuously tried to enter in their discussions and when any of their group member came into my group, I made sure to maintain my group’s rules and ethics.
Performing in an organization or a university depends on how well a person tackles a situation under pressure. Under stressful situations, it is important to look for similar situations in past to frame techniques in order to overcome and give best results. (Mitchinson and Morris 2014, p. 3).Writing a blog post was a first experience for me and I did not perform well. From referencing style being a new concept to moving to a different country, everything was fast paced which reflected in my blog post results. Coming to performing aspect of agile learning, post consultation with my tutor, I understood how I can cope up in the next group assignment. The Apple case study created a stressful situation due to lack of co-ordination between the group members. As discussed in SDW 4, every group goes through group development stages (Tuckman and Jensen 1997). The first step was forming which involved starting up a group which led to storming. During storming, a challenge was that we all were from diverse backgrounds, had different ways of approaching the report and had different availabilities for meetings. On conducting meetings with our tutor, Gina Shehadie and seeking advice, I set up norms for the group that is I made a schedule to perform better in this situation. Having faced a slightly similar situation in United States of America where I visited for a short course and had students from all over the world and we had to do assignments in Kennedy space centre motivated me to not lose in Apple group assignment. Furthermore, I made a schedule with responsibilities of each group member along with date by which each of us had to complete the assigned task. This made report much smoother. Additionally my group performed and we submitted on time in order to adjourn the group. This experience will guide me in maintaining my performance for future term group assignments and in international companies with multi-cultural environment as I will have prior experience of working in such group. This experience will be valuable as I will be cautious about difference in opinions from initial stage and flexible to everyone’s schedule.
Another attribute of learning agility is reflecting. Reflecting is to constantly seek feedback in order to understand own behaviour and polish myself (Mitchinson and Morris 2014, p. 4). I took learning consultations and appointments with my tutor to reflect on my performance. On receiving honest feedback, the picture became transparent on what was missing in the report and assignment. I learnt from my experience to make a timetable from initial stage of the course and stick to it. Alternatively, during our CAW with Dr Lynn Gribble, reading different case studies led to development of problem solving skills which I lacked previously. Seeking feedback and self-reflection work together as explained in Johari window (Shehadie G 2019, personal communication, SDW 3). I accept constructive criticism from all my team members which is my open arena. On the contrary my hidden areas are smaller due to my constant attempts to keep communicating with my group members and tutor. One particular case that put ethics and problem solving skills into practise was of Managing UP (A) Grace from CAW 3 wherein, Grace did not reflect on herself that the message she is trying to deliver is getting lost. Firstly, her manager Landon was sceptical about her project management software. On meeting the Vice President (Bill), Grace skipped the hierarchy and approached bill about the software and sent him an email on Sunday (L Gribble 2019, personal communication, 30 September). This is where I stepped into Grace’s shoes and reflected on what would I have done in this situation. Being patient and giving time to my manager to give me constructive criticism about the software proposal was required. Even if then my proposal was rejected, I would have approached Bill in the event but definitely would not have emailed him on a Sunday as that is unprofessional. This case taught me to reflect and focus on energy processing information and to observe what consequences my action will have before taking any decision. This case prepared me as a student for future decision making in any organization.
Moving forward to risking attribute of learning agility. Risk taking is to take enjoyment from struggling with a problem. One needs to be progressive with risk taking and volunteer for jobs where success is not guaranteed (Mitchinson and Morris 2014, p.4). Not being a risk taker, I enjoy challenges only where I know success is definite. For example, Socrative’s in CAW caused immense anxiety for me as one can be asked any question related to the case and the answers can be subjective. This can pull me back in an organization where I am asked to venture out in a new field. Although, the land far away activity in SDW motivated me to step out of my group and comfort zone into another group. I still lack risking attributes which will hold me back to be an agile leader. As a team leader, one has to step out in field, travel overseas, take on different projects and work in diverse environments with cultural differences. In order to adapt to risking attribute, I will try to be more spontaneous in joining volunteer clubs and societies.
The last facet of learning agility is Defending. High learning-agile professionals and students ask for reviews, take responsibility for their actions, and modify themselves based on the feedback they received (Mitchinson and Morris, 2014, p.4). For me, being defensive stands for not taking responsibility for the results of your actions. Professional skills and ethics course has laid a strong foundation for me a student to develop into an efficient professional. Having received feedback on my blog post and report, I have developed my ability to write and refer adequately. This understanding of constantly seeking feedback will be essential to me as a learner because in future when I will be a team member in an organization, I will receive feedbacks from my seniors as well as colleagues. Rather than getting demotivated from the negative feedback or over confident from the positive review, I will adapt into necessary changes required in my work culture in order to be an agile leaner.
As next step, I will focus on my risking attribute because I have not sufficiently improved my ability to volunteer in tasks where winning is not certain. This means that as a student if I will be asked to complete a complex task or a subject which is new to me, I will be sceptical about it. Because I am not yet confident about how to handle a failure or venture into alienated situation, I will now focus on joining internships, social or volunteer clubs which make me communicate with absolute strangers so that I am not hesitant in future if my boss suddenly asks me to travel to Europe and lead a team where culture and language is completely different.
- Mitchison A, Morris R, 2014, learning about Learning agility, Centre for Creative Leadership White Paper
- Macmillan, K 2015, ‘Managing up (A) Grace’, Ivey Publishing, version 2015-06-25