26 March 2021
I have been the leader of my sports team for many years, but I have never experienced being a leader in a professional environment. When my Programme Director introduced me to the role of Programme Representative, I immediately knew: it is now or never! So, I took my chance and got elected as Programme Representative MSc Marketing and Business Analysis.
As programme representative I am the link between my cohort and the university. I represent my cohort and deliver feedback to different stakeholders within the university to improve the students’ university experience.
My Learning Outcomes
Being a program representative was a highly valuable experience for me. From a leadership position, I learnt how to:
- Build a relationship with my fellow students
- Communicate with external stakeholders
- Deliver positive, as well as negative feedback
- Be solution rather than problem-oriented
- Be persistent because change never happens overnight
Last but not least, I learnt how to lead a cross-cultural team and to adapt my leadership style to my cohort’s needs.
The biggest challenges I faced, was being a leader in an online environment. I have never met most of my fellow students in person, some of my peers are in a different time zone, and I have never met anyone from the university staff in person. But with the technology of today, and investing a bit more time, and offering creative solutions; I overcame these obstacles.
I organised regular online sessions for my cohort to create unity, adapted my communication style to the online environment, in which the tone of voice and facial expressions compensate for the missing body language, and understood that flexibility is key.
Best Advice I Received and Resources
Personally, the best advice I ever received regarding my leadership skills was very simple but true: use the resources available to build up your knowledge and awareness, but never lose yourself in the development process by copying someone else.
Be you and listen to your team!
I found this very helpful because so many experts share their great insights, but every leader and team are different. We just have to figure out what is best for us. Hence, I think the best resource to improve your leadership style is the feedback from your team and other people you work with.
My Advice for You
You are thinking about becoming a leader, but you need a final push — consider this as your final push!
Stop overthinking and just go for it. No matter who — Bill Gates, Kamala Harris, Jacinda Ardern, or Lee Kuan Yew — they all had to start somewhere. Practice makes perfect and failure is not the end, it is the beginning of the learning process.
To put my experience in a nutshell, working on my leadership skills has simultaneously increased my self-confidence, cultural awareness, communication style, and finally, it has made me feel stronger as a woman!
Lena Reuther is a student on the MSc Marketing and Business Analysis programme