Feeling and experiencing instead of frameworks and analysis

Did you know that human behaviour is highly conditioned? (At least) 90% of our behaviour is subconscious. To be an effective leader, it’s therefore essential that you know and understand the processes that drive human responses and behaviour. And that is what the Leading Strategic Change module, part of in the Executive MBA programme and EuroMBA Online, is all about. EuroMBA Online students Fabienne Kramer and Anton Vovnyuk share their expectations beforehand and experiences afterwards of their first of three EuroMBA Online residential week.

This EuroMBA Online residential week on Strategic Leading Change was scheduled from 14-18 December in Vaeshartelt. However, after prime minister Mark Rutte’s press conference on December 14, plans had to be altered overnight. Instead of a full face-to-face format, an online programme was developed and it was up to the students to decide to either stay in the hotel or to attend the livestream at home. Half of the students went home. Those who stayed mainly did so because of logistical issues. Anton Vovnyuk, Global Procurement Manager at the Scandinavian Tobacco Group: “Although I was a bit disappointed at first, in hindsight I am very satisfied with how the online programme went. Despite the fact that we weren’t together psychically, we certainly were together as a team virtually. We had a great week full of exercises, reflections and fun.”

Opening up possibilities

The module Leading Strategic Change is not about change management or strategic management; so no frameworks, analyses and planning. Instead: feeling and experiencing by way of role play, meditative practises, constellation work, dance and other body work.

The idea behind the programme is that the current approach of checks and balances simply doesn’t work anymore. Change is not about control, but about opening up possibilities, learning how to stay open minded when your view is being challenged and letting go of inhibiting beliefs. Therefore, the programme focuses on learning and applying the tools that help create the settings that facilitate change.

Expand boundaries

Before the start of the module, Fabienne Kramer, Project Manager at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, says she is very much looking forward to meeting her fellow-students. “I expect to learn more about my own leadership style and about the blind spots I possibly have. I hope to learn more about how to implement change in an efficient way, keeping most people on board. I also hope to learn more about the best way of communicating change.” Anton Vovnyuk adds: “My main expectation is to expand the boundaries of my capabilities as much as possible and to absorb everything new to apply in my professional life while implementing strategic changes.”

Authentic leadership skills

When asked to describe their authentic leadership skills, Fabienne answers that she cares about people she works with and that work for her. “I try to listen well and try to guide and coach.” Reflecting on the week she tells that her view has changed. “The module made me more aware of how my inner state can influence a situation. I also realised that I am far from mastering the whole process. It’ll be something to work on throughout my career. The module helped me to become more aware of that and it also instilled a spark.” Before the course Anton described himself as quite demanding for himself and others. “I pay attention to the control function, but also give other people the freedom to make their own decisions. I think I can inspire and lead my team and always look at things from a positive side.” “My view on my leadership skills before and after the course is definitely different”, Anton continues. “To be honest, I am still reflecting on some topics. During the week I felt the transformation on the ‘body’ level. However, some processes were not easy and I experienced some internal resistance. The journey isn’t over, that’s for sure.”

Key take-away

“My key take-away is that all people are different and everyone wants to be heard. As a leader you should be aware of that and communicate accordingly”, says Anton. Fabienne: “Some of the exercises can quite easily be implemented in my work and private life. I learned a lot and the week was really exciting. I have to admit that I didn’t feel as if had spent 8 hours a day in front of a screen.” Anton agrees: “I am grateful that the MaastrichtMBA team made the Leading Strategic Change residential week happen instead of postponing it to a later date. The online version has matched my expectations a 100% and has turned out to be a vital part of the learning journey.”