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Essay: Reflective essay: Leading, managing and developing people

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In this reflective writing, I am, going to reflect on my residential experience. This was an assignment for MBA Leading, Managing and Developing People module where students were taken to Lake District Windermere. The trip involved a lot of activities which made me feel so excited on the days ahead. Moreover, since the residential trip involved going with other colleagues from same class mates of different sections, I was very nervous because, since I am more of an introvert, I don’t like socializing much and I prefer spending most of my time alone or with people I know. However, against my expectations, the trip turned out to be full of fun and the other colleagues were very friendly and kind to me making the trip experience very exciting and full of learning.
I feel like the trip was a lifetime achievement to me as, it enabled me to mingle with other individual from diverse origins whom we learnt a lot from each other including sharing our experiences. Through that trip, I have acknowledged the importance of good communication, proper coordination and planning, wise decision making, emotions control and being keen on instructions. Therefore, I will utilise the Gibbs cycle (1988) to reflect on my experience during the residential trip while connecting it with relevant theories as discussed below (Gibbs 1988).


The journey was the best experience to me because, throughout the journey, people were very calm and quiet. This really suited my personality as my test results indicates that, I am a reserved person, very formal, serious and one who likes keeping quiet. When we reached our destination, we were taken through orientation and we were explained in detail the activities of those three days. Afterwards, we were sub-divided into four groups by our mentor.

After being sub-divided into the four groups, we were then given five different tasks. The first task was about a sheep and a shepherd. In this task, one person became the shepherds, and the other three were the sheep. The shepherd was given a whistle, and his role was to guide the sheep. Whenever the whistle was blown, the sheep had to respond by moving based on the instructions given by the shepherd. However, we failed this task because the shepherd didn’t have a good tactical approach of guiding the sheep, and the sheep were not aware of what was needed to be done. Besides that, there was improper guidance from the shepherd and the sheep were not keen in listening to the whistles. However, there was good communication and good planning among the group members.

In the second, the tutor gave us an equipment and 25 minutes to complete the task. I struggled a lot with my group members but didn’t manage to pass the test. This is because, firstly, I was confused, and my team members also confessed to having been confused while doing the task. My group also didn’t do proper planning on how we were to go about the task including the role of every individual in the team.
The third task was about a number cruncher. In this task, the tutor randomly placed numbers 1 to 25 in different places. My team members and I were to touch each of the numbers in order in twenty-five seconds. Therefore, to my relief, we were able to finish this task successfully and within the stipulated time because there was maximum cooperation in my group and every member was giving their opinions and cooperating to ensure that we have selected the letter in order from 1 to 25 which we succeeded.
The second day was the most complicated one as we all gathered early in the morning for the breakfast and followed by the session. The first one was about building a raft. However, we had ropes which could not be used in building the raft. We needed to have barrels to successfully construct it. Therefore, we had to negotiate with the barrels’ company on equal terms to exchange our ropes for the barrels. Fortunately, they agreed, and we then bought other materials like sculls and wooden poles from other companies also. We then began the construction, but to our disappointment, none of us knew how to construct the raft except for one member. We, therefore, helped him to build it which we managed successfully and won that task.


In the task of a sheep and shepherd, the shepherd was instructing us one person at a time and we could not understand whom he was referring to. This made me feel frustrated because, initially we had already laid out a clear plan on how we will handle the task and here the shepherd was giving us other instructions which created confusion among us. This went against my self-assessment tests which portrays me as a conscientious person, disciplined, efficient and well-organized person. This agreed with Gould (1972, p. 165) who said that great theories are expansive, and people learn from the lose they have experience in the past thus justifying why I am a very conscientious person.
Initially, I felt very miserable when we failed the task of sheep and shepherd and the task of rolling a ball. This is because according to my personality tests, I am a person who is easily hurt, and has the habit of discerning things when it happens. I also felt very agitated and embarrassed by my inability to act the role of a leader and help my team members to win the task forgetting the words of Eden, (2014, pp. 266) who said that: “a good leader is the one who learns from his mistakes and improves in the future.”

Additionally, since we failed some of the tasks, this made me feel very distressed to the extent that I didn’t even want to face my group members after that incident. I lost faith in myself and see myself as incompetent to handle complex tasks. It also made me feel like I am not good at working with groups and that I cannot perform better when working as a leader forgetting what was said by Adair (1983) who said that “leaders are representing the key components that are required within the work environments. Being a brave person does not make you a leader, but you cannot be one without it.”

However, since we were able to win other tasks, this encouraged me and made me feel that I was not a failure. It made me feel that, I should not be easily losing hope as failing enables someone to correct his mistakes and become a better person as said by Kolb (1984) who said that “perhaps the act of visualizing oneself in a successful situation removes blocks to performance and improves one’s abilities”.
The tasks that we passed also made me to have confidence in myself again and it motivated me to be working in teams as it proved the power of team work. This could be linked with the theory that (reference) people who work in a group can yield better results than the one produced by an individual working alone (Parbold, 1998, p.223).


After failing the sheep and shepherd task, the task made me feel like there was poor planning and poor coordination from our leader. I felt that, we failed this task due to poor relationship that existed among our group members, lack of cooperation, poor teamwork and poor leadership styles thus linking it to the team role types of Belbin. Poor coordination between the leader and us can be linked to James Kouzes (1987, pg: 1) who stated that: “Leadership is explained as the link between the leaders and the subjects. Leadership can be explained from the point of the followers by asking them what a leader does look like.”

Additionally, after failing the other task, we did not sit down like a group and talk. I didn’t even give my group members time to explain themselves as I was so offended. I was even angry to my team leader while forgetting what was said by Adair (1983) that: “leaders are needed to have key elements that promote quality working in the work environment”.

However, we were able to talk, and after that, I left there feeling very relieved. Besides that, I also phoned my friend later and explained how disappointed I was, and he made me feel better by explaining to me that failing is normal. I thus realized that everyone has failed at some point when even doing group work and this should not worry me as I can improve my group next time. This has been pointed out by Greene, (2006, p.43).


The situation was worsened by the way my group members and I behaved towards each other while conducting the task. We never planned well, communicated poorly and didn’t make joint decisions. I feel that I should have stood up for my group and save it from failing. Besides that, I should have talked to my group leader after the task and tell them what he could have to ensure we are able to win tasks just as explained by Adair (1983) who said that “The leaders have a personality that is needed in the work environment that supports work. Being brave do not make you a leader but you can’t be one without it.”

Additionally, Dayne’s and Farris (2003) explained that, when a problem is not handled immediately, it can worsen the problem and even ruin the relationship of the people involved. Ignoring the group members and blaming them for the failure could have made the group feel like I was going against them as explained by Thomas, (2003, p. 22). I also realised that, my reaction towards my group members was not right because I did not give them time to speak and explain themselves and thus, I apologised to them.

However, in the end we were able to do our best as we could and managed to win. This was because our leader guided us very well, there was good communication and proper coordination. This made me feel that a good leader wouldn’t shout or blame their mistakes in front of everyone but guides them to ensure those mistakes are corrected. This therefore relates to the theory by Lea, (2017, pp. 14 -158) who said that: “Time management is a key component and skill in life which then demand that some of the activities are run simultaneously.”


In retrospect, I will do several things differently. Firstly, I will avoid assuming things and investigating it clearly before blaming anyone for anything. I should have initially spoken to my group members immediately after the task had ended and given them my suggestions concerning the tasks we had taken and how we can improve it in the future. I should have also been keener before overreacting and being angry with my group members. This is because taking rush judgments and poor communication can really destroy a relationship and ruin it completely.

Therefore, the incident taught me the essence of building a good relationship with your team members and communicating well as explained by Jackson (1999) who expounded that, a good relationship is fundamental for the success of any task. Thus, I feel that if had I developed a good relationship with my group members, I would have influenced them to cooperate during the task and we would have been able to win all the tasks possibly. I would have also been able to talk to my team members and ask them of better ways to tackle the tasks, and since the relationship would have been good, everyone would have spoken freely and given their opinions thus improving the performance.

Action plan

In the future, I will do my best to ensure I build up a good relationship with my team members. I will also ensure that we build up good communication and planning before the commencement of another task. Since I am a monitor evaluator, I can help my leader in improving his skills by guiding him on the best way to handle future tasks. I have already talked to my group members, and we have agreed to hold a series of meetings on how we can improve our performance when we do another task in the future. We are looking at how we will be communicating when handling the tasks including how we can organize ourselves to ensure that we can complete future tasks successfully.
Moreover, since I am a monitor evaluator and a shaper, as explained by Belbin’s role (Belbin, 1993) I can have more ideas to deal the task in a better way. I would have given an individual sign to each person in a unique way to understand what exactly I instruct them. It will be much easier to complete the task on time. As a monitor evaluator, I can discern options and judge the accurately which will enable me to give proper guideline.

Since I am also a shaper, and I thrive very well under pressure and in harsh conditions, I will use these skills to be guiding my team especially when everyone is nervous and also I will come up with a new solution to the problem. This will ensure that petty mistakes are avoided. It will also ensure that every group member has clearly understood the task ahead and this will thus increase the group members’ cooperation towards completing the given task successfully (Gibbs, 1988). It will also ensure that all the group members are open to giving their views concerning the assigned task and thus in case the probability of winning the task.

Besides that, since I am also a conscientious person, I can I have had a good conversation with my group members where we have all talked and have formulated a technique of team-teaching so that we can know how to work together in group work and ensure we succeed. The team teaching will involve selecting tasks and trying to solve it together while trying to improve on the weaknesses that made us fail in the previous tasks. I will also be speaking to my group members more often about how they feel concerning how the group is being carried and what we can do to make our group stronger just as explained by Brennan and Little, (1996) who said that, “communication is the best tool for any given group or organization to ensure they work together effectively”

As a team, decided to work on our decision-making skills to ensure that we can easily win tasks in future. This has also been explained by Morgan (1997) who suggested that: “There are three domains of interest which informs our actions- in other words, we make decisions based on these interests. The interests are the job we are paid to do, our career aspirations and our out-of-work interests”


Belbin’s team roles

Brennan, J and McGeever, P. (1994), CNAA Graduates: their Employment and their Experiences after College
Daynes, J. & Farris, M.M. (2003). The Manager-Employee Relationship. Oxford: Oxfordian Books Ltd. Greene, F. (2006). Teacher Trainees: The Truth. York: Education Press.
Eden, S., (2014). Out of the comfort zone: Enhancing work-based learning about employability through student reflection on work placements. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 38(2), pp.266-276.
Gibbs, G, (1988), Learning by Doing. A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. FEU
James kouez, (1987) leadership challenge 4th edition.
John Adair (1983). Effective Leadership, a Self-Development manual. England: Gower Publisher.
Kolb, D. (1984), Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Lea, M.R., (2017). Academic Literacies in Theory and Practice. Literacies and Language Education, pp.147-158
Morgan (1997) – Images of organisation
Parbold, L. (1998). Feedback from newly-qualified adult education teachers. Journal of Teacher Training, 12(3), pp.23-38.
Thomas, F.G. (2003). Dealing with difficult employees – a manager’s guide. Glasgow: Meriddan Ltd.

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