Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It doesn’t matter which one you are. What matters is your choice to be one.

by Rohan Attravanam
2nd-year MBA, Consulting Academy

Even before I walked into the classroom at 7 in the morning, hot coffee, bagels, yogurt and fruits were waiting … waiting to wake me up… wake me up and prepare me for yet another exciting 2 hour journey… a journey that exposes the hard truth that leadership is an art … a journey that bolsters the reality that leadership is as much a science.

Every year, Kelley School of Business runs one of the most successful international deployment programs in the country. With GLOBASE, EME and Team Deployments, the school equips students with skills that no classroom can possibly teach. Students work in highly diverse teams, on highly unstructured projects, in alien locations with clients in country who do not even speak the same language. Deploying teams that deal with these complex and challenging projects requires solid leadership that not only drives these projects but also enables the individuals to rise up to become future leaders. And that is exactly what the Leadership Development Program aims to do. Develop leaders who enable their teams to become future leaders.

The Leadership Development Program is aimed at the leadership teams of the global  programs vis-à-vis GLOBASE and EME. Each team leads a group of students to a different country with a unique challenge and the onus is on the leaders to ensure the success of the team in each of these countries. If “leadership cannot be taught”, how does the program develop leaders? It does so by providing a platform where great minds are read, success stories are discussed and the learnings are put to practice towards a common goal, both in classroom and in the wild.

Over the course of six sessions, the program taught me who makes an admired leader and what the key practices of effective leadership are. The “Strategic Vision Process” drove each of the teams to clearly identify and articulate their vision and come up with five bold steps that break down their grand strategy into workable action items through game plan. To put things into perspective the leadership teams were trained in wild with the IU ROTC. We as a team built rope bridges to cross over water streams, built cart barrels using tires and poles as axels to transport ammunition, and rescued a crashed pilot in woods at night while dodging paintball shots from the lieutenants of the US Army. That by far was the coolest leadership training I’ve ever received. After Action Reviews helped us realize our errors and learn to become better after each challenge. These were valuable leadership lessons that are hard to learn even after many years of professional experience.

Some leaders are born while some others are made. It doesn’t matter which leader you are. What matters is your choice to be a leader, a leader with an ability to inspire a vision and to empower their followers to achieve a common goal.

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