UEBS programme in ft.com MBA Blog

November 16, 2015 : News, Team Development

Case Studies

Maximillion was again selected by the University of Edinburgh Business School as its partner for the design and delivery of a team-based personal development residential to kick-off the 2015-2016 full-time MBA programme. The theme of this 2 day programme was “Building High Performing Teams”.

UEBS MBA student, Jess Webb, shared her insights from the programme by way of a blog post which originally appeared in the MBA blog section of the Financial Times (ft.com). Please go here to view the original blog post. We are also pleased to provide the full transcript below.

Jess Webb writes:

“As we are fast-discovering, the notion of effective teamwork is a critical component of a fulfilling and productive MBA program. In order to prepare for a year of group-orientated projects, our 2015/16 cohort trekked to the Scottish Highlands to explore the intricacies of team dynamics and leadership through self-awareness and practical application.

Our mission: To develop positive team leadership values to position us for success throughout our MBA journey and beyond.
Our equipment: Belbin Team Role report research. A positive attitude. Wellies. And a GoPro.

In the lead-up to our two-day Highland trek, our class completed an online assessment which provided us with key insights into our strengths, weaknesses, motivators, and leadership preferences. We sought input from six observers (colleagues from our current and previous organisations) as well as completing a corresponding self assessment. This helped us understand how, as individuals, we have certain traits and skills that tend to emerge more frequently or prominently than others. And, under pressure, depending on our traits and personality types, how we’re likely to respond in a certain way… which can impact they way teams function – or don’t function.

Through our Belbin learnings, it became apparent how diverse our group was in terms of the breakdown of individual personality types and preferences. Adding to this, we’re diverse when it comes to age, gender, and culture, which bring more variables to our group dynamic. Its early in our MBA semester, so the group is still getting to know one another, so this trek was one way to fast-track that process and expose some home truths on who we really are – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Over the course of 48 hours, we were broken into small teams and given tasks to complete in short timeframes. These tasks were designed to put us under pressure and potentially fail, yet these tasks were also designed to prove how we can excel. We were pushed outside our ‘comfort zones’ and had to work together to solve problems. We had to trust each others’ judgement – despite our relatively newly-formed relationships.

Put a Scottish oil and gas engineer, a Mexican human resource manager, an Indian accountant and an American investment banker together and ask them to scope out an escape route from a [figurative] prison. One minute I was running through the woods with a Chinese wine sales manager, an American stockbroker, a Brazilian bond trader, and Norwegian contract lawyer, and the next minute I was crawling through ropes with a Canadian corporate finance analyst and a Scottish lobbyist.

I was challenged. And I challenged my classmates. There was frustration, physical and mental strain, confusion, laughter, fatigue, excitement, and rapture. A cocktail of mixed emotions!

So, why does all this matter? How do these team activities have any real-world application?

In the workplace, we are sure to experience times when our buttons are pushed, as well as times when we push others’ buttons. We don’t necessarily choose who we work with, who we manage, or who manages us. Understanding what drives people, what motivates them, how to communicate with them and get the best outcome is paramount. Its about getting inside peoples’ heads and seeing things from their perspective in order to find common ground when its not there to begin with. And more importantly, its about knowing yourself, your pressure points, your areas for development, and your habits, and how to be a valuable and effective team member and team leader.

I’m beginning to see that the University of Edinburgh MBA places great emphasis on reflection – its not just about what we are doing, but how we’re doing it. We’re not just here to get the job done, we’re here to understand how best to approach that job – and how to do it better. That’s how we’ll become agile leaders and valuable members within high-performing team structures, both now and in our future endeavours…wellies and all.”

Maximillion offers a wide range of Learning and Development programmes to suit different group sizes, objectives and budgets in Edinburgh, Scotland, throughout the UK and beyond. Please Click here to see what we can offer, make an enquiry or contact one of the team on 0131 333 0066.

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