Campus - 29.11.2012 - 00:00 

Synergies in the net

25 international students tackled the issue of “Responsible Leadership” during the CEMS course. In group exercises, they practised team leadership.


29 November 2012. Barack Obama, Roger Federer, Céline Dion: The HSG seminar room of the CEMS course on “Responsible Leadership” welcomed a few personalities as guests on the afternoon of 28 November. They smiled from colourful paper collages which the students had distributed around the room. The vernissage was the result of a creative stock-taking exercise.

Visions on cardboard
The night before, the students had used coloured pencils, scissors and glue to put down on paper the goals and ideas which they would later like to introduce into their working lives. “Your values are your most important resource as ‘leaders’. You will be able to persuade others with them and so pass on your enthusiasm in a team,” said course leader Wolfgang Jenewein. “Daily routine kills your desire – it is important that you stick to your goals and become aware of where your journey is meant to take you.” The visions are vast: “Be the change you want to see in this world” stands out in big letters on a poster. On another piece of cardboard, “Opt for change” is displayed in bright yellow letters.

“For me, it will be the most difficult exercise to keep a cool head under pressure – like this one here,” said a student and pointed to Barack Obama’s face in his collage. “Calm but with an edge” another student wrote about tennis star Roger Federer. In the next picture, the singer Céline Dion and FC Barcelona become a symbol of the management concept of “Transformation”, according to which enthusiasm and interaction lead teams to better results than strict targets.

Together through the loops
In the sporting part of the course, two student teams competed in a contest to see who could slip through the strings of a head-high net to the other side first. Team coaches Walter Tannert and Fabian Heuschele put up a web of strings between the concrete pillars in the lobby of the Main Building. Contact with the net resulted in a reduction of the score. The students lifted the first team member head first through the strings, carefully, like a music star in a stage dive. Done! Cheers on the other side.

Whereas the first team twirled another through the net one student after, the colleagues of the second team on the other side analysed their strategy: Who was tall, who was small, who would be first, how would students deal with each other? When would the transactional style prevail: “Get out of the way, it’s my turn now!” When would transformational action predominate? The last team member manoeuvred herself through the net like a snake – and got stuck. The hooter sounded; game over; back to square one.

“I’ve learnt more about leadership and group dynamics in three hours here than in all the lectures that I’ve attended about this so far,” said a student with shining eyes after the exercise. The message has arrived: “The team is the winner”.

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