Looking back over my leadership development during my time in the Laidlaw Programme, I can see that I have learned a lot and improved in many areas. I feel that this improvement is more evident now than I could see during each stage of the Programme.
I feel that my development over the course of the Programme has come in two stages. In the first, I became more conscious of leadership actions in areas like public speaking, teamwork etc, and in the second it was about becoming a more natural leader where the conscious effort to do all of these actions wasn’t needed as much anymore because they had become more natural over time.
In the early stages of the Programme I enjoyed identifying the different areas and types of leadership and getting to hear everyone else’s opinions on leadership, particularly once we could be in-person. This showed me that even though all of us will have similarities since we were chosen to be Laidlaw scholars, everyone will still offer a different perspective on the leadership topics. What made developing my leadership skills easier, especially at the start of the Programme, was that each leadership session involved a practical aspect where we would practice leadership in some capacity and go beyond just sitting there and trying to absorb all of the information we were being given.
Moving into the second half of the Programme I found that there was a transition from learning lots of new information to working more with everything I had learnt so far and making a more natural use of it. This was particularly evident for me during my LiA. During this experience I developed lots of skills that had been brought to my attention and made them a natural part of my leadership skillset and how I approached challenges, instead of having to make a conscious effort to be considerate of them like before. I had the chance to improve in project management and my self-awareness in working with others which are skills that require a specific type of opportunity to be able to improve which I’m thankful to have gotten.
Also in the second stage of the Programme I got to look at how the solutions to leadership issues are not always black and white, but a grey area sometimes. This was the focus of our ethical leadership training. I found it interesting how even though ethics itself can vary a lot from situation to situation there is still a way to classify different ethical blindspots and behaviours. Upholding ethical standards is important in any environment, not just one of leadership, so to know there were methods to address this grey area was very helpful. During these sessions it was also interesting to hear from other Laidlaw scholars who work in fields different to mine where ethics plays a larger, more direct role. Having completed these sessions now I feel that I am able to be a more ethical leader and be better at both identifying the possible ethical blindspots I encounter and also the types of excuses that could be used to justify unethical behaviour.
During my time as a Laidlaw scholar I’ve also been able to see how being a leader not only affects any situation immediate to me, but also puts me in a position of being a global citizen. It’s more clear to me now that not only are my actions as a leader important to situations around me, but also the importance of these actions on a larger scale as the consequences of these actions are not always restricted to my immediate surroundings. This insight has given me a broader perspective of the world, my place in it and the effect I can have on it in the future.
Overall, the experience I've had as a Laidlaw Scholar has been very enjoyable and educational. I have been able to accomplish all of the goals I originally set out for myself and more. The skills I have gained and information I have learned have given me a strong foundation for the future where I hope to continue improving and have a positive impact wherever I go.