SKOLKOVO | Leadership | Excellence Track

01 february 2023

While on vacation, our students had the chance to disrupt their academic routine of writing-reading activities and to try something new. SKOLKOVO invited the Excellence Track students to participate in an educational module and intensive, essential to the revelations and inspirations that the students would later use. In this post, we will summarize some of the insights students had and illustrate the different activities they went through.

The first challenge on their journey was a two-day long educational module on leadership, organized by professionals from the Laboratory of Executive Coaching and Leadership SKOLKOVO. At first, most of ET students were skeptical about the module, because they tend to work collaboratively and never choose one authoritative leader to guide. However, they realised that:

  • The leader in a group is or might be fluctuating. For a specific task, it could be one person and for different tasks, it can be someone else.
  • Everyone has an authentic leadership style, meaning that there is no “perfect” leader. There are many ways of leading people and not all of them are formal, authoritative or exclusive.
  • The students’ perception of who a leader is falls under the new paradigm of the reality of leadership. The new paradigm states that leaders are always changing and adapting to manage the different crises at hand, delegating the tasks to other members of the team instead of controlling all spheres, and has a goal which encapsulates the whole team’s vision.
  • Formal leaders are not the only leaders. For example, if one is assigned to be a leader, it does not mean that those who are not assigned are not leaders per se.
  • Before our students never thought deeply about the difference between the team and the “working group”. They always saw them as synonymous. Actually, as we found out, there is a difference between the two. While a team is more stable and permanent, a group is something more flexible and does not stay for a long time. What also differentiates the two is that a team always goes through “storming moments” to really get along.

These insights were only possible with the different and unfamiliar formats which the instructor introduced to the students. One of the useful formats utilized was the collective coach session. This implies sitting for hours with a group of people and requesting a problem that is important to the person. Then, all other members would ask open-ended questions to better understand the problem and would later give suggestions and feedback to the person based on the information they received. Besides this activity being useful in helping the students to analyze a situation and critically assess how to solve the problem, the activity was important in building a bond between the students not only as a cohort/ group, but as a team.

The leadership module was a great introduction to the upcoming Intensive—not only through the work of moderating the group of high schoolers, but also guiding the BBA students who played the role of assistants in each group. The contribution to the work dynamic was diverse: as two types of leaders were present.

The dynamic, though, varied from group to group. Sometimes, it was challenging to guide the schoolers to more intellectual work not only within the political/economic acumen (which was prevalent in many groups—schoolers focused on the “god mode” when analyzing and solving the cases). Nevertheless, the presence of the assistants alleviated the challenge: there were at least two people showing the schoolers the direction they should follow.

The text is written by SAS Excellence Track students.