As part of our integration week at Essec, we went to Saint-Cyr Coetquidan, the military academy in Brittany, France, for a two-day leadership workshop. Everybody was excited about the trip.
We were told to bring a rucksack, hiking shoes, cutlery etc and to be ready at 1pm. We were all waiting for the bus at 12:45, but at 1pm the driver called to inform us he would be an hour late because he had a flat tire.
“No problem, it happens”, most of us said. But 2pm came and went, so we called at 2.30pm, but there was no response. At 3:00pm we were still waiting and our excitement had evaporated. By 4pm we gave up waiting and decided to take the train.
We arrived at Saint-Cyr at around 9:00pm and by that time everyone had come to terms with the delay. We had a very warm welcome from the army officers and we began the workshop the following day.
During our stay at Saint-Cyr, we used physical situations what leadership means. What does it mean to be a leader and to be followed by individuals who do not think the same way? What does it mean to overcome your fears and be part of a team?
I had an amazing time at Saint-Cyr. In two days I learned through doing what I could never have learned in a classroom.
Based on the exercises we did, here are the qualities that I believe a person needs to be a leader:
- A good leader needs to recognise the need to balance work and personal life. Without this balance, an individual could suffer from stress, a mental breakdown, or physical illness. Working excessive hours or maintaining a relentless pace can make anyone behave bizarrely or eccentrically and will not help to create a leader responsible for vision and directing others.
- Successful leaders should be committed to building relationships. Staying engaged, building trust and reinforcing collaboration demonstrate how leaders can have an impact.
- Successful leaders should also be excellent communicators. They must communicate their ideas in a way that energizes people and incites them toward action. The ability to gain the co-operation and support of others through negotiation, persuasion and influence depend upon communication skills.
- Leaders need to be courageous. Having the determination to explore unfamiliar territory, for instance, is one way leaders shine. Leaders are prepared to step outside a traditional pathway and guide others. This tenacity also becomes clear when leaders go beyond their comfort zone and stay focused despite uncertainty or fear.
- Finally, leaders need to show concern for others. They must have compassion, altruism, generosity and empathy.
We had an unforgettable stay in Saint-Cyr and we want to return.