Lead and Learn Entrepreneurship: Igniting Innovation

Lead and Learn Entrepreneurship: Igniting Innovation organized by The Futures Entrepreneurship Centre was led by inspiring entrepreneur Sybille Shiffmann and Chris Reed Thomas, associate lecturer of Plymouth Business School and Director of Capstone Learning Limited. Both have years of experience in leadership development, executive coaching and team development and by sharing their knowledge inspired the leadership abilities in all of us.

The workshop was aimed at maximising our leadership potential and developing our awareness of the impact our Emotional intelligence has upon us. Emotional Intelligence, awareness of our actions, emotions and responses are critical when working within a team and even more essential when leading a team. We need to be aware of the impact our behaviour has upon others and how our mood can change the entire atmosphere of a given environment. We are all emotional beings and our emotions are often rooted much deeper in us than we would like to admit to ourselves. If we do not pay attention to our emotions, we will unconsciously act them out. The importance of Emotional Intelligence has also been highlighted by Babson College. They assert that one of the great strengths of entrepreneurs is their awareness.

At the beginning of the workshop we were asked to introduce ourselves but slightly differently than just the usual. We were asked a so called ‘flourishing question’ meaning to tell a story or describe a situation in which we had been successful – flourishing – succeeding. We all had great and successful stories to tell, stories that made us feel so powerful and proud of our achievements once again.  Whether at the time we had believed we were going to be able to achieve them or not, we did, and it made a huge impact on our perception of ourselves at the time. The workshop then continued with a short introduction to the history of EI and its rising importance. Much research these days seems to suggest that people with a high emotional intelligence perform better than those without. A study of several hundred organizations by Goleman (1998) concluded that emotional competencies distinguished the star performers. It takes a certain IQ to enter most jobs but it takes EI to perform well in them.

Each of us then filled out an Emotional Intelligence questionnaire that allowed us to analyse and discuss our self and social awareness, self-management and relationship management. By being aware of our EI we gain and increase our confidence and improve interpersonal skills.

One can ask: how is this connected with leadership? Well, leadership starts with awareness in what interest us as individuals. Research by George J.M (2000) on emotions and leadership suggests that feelings, moods and emotions play a central role in the leadership process. She proposed that Emotional Intelligence, the ability to understand and manage moods and emotions in the self and others, contributes to effective leadership in organizations. There is a wide range of research and studies that suggest and support the above.

With our two coaching experts we were also able to learn about the importance of coaching and how coaching helps you to discover and access your potential. We all took part in a role play that involved putting ourselves in the shoes of a coach and helping the other participants to think of solutions to their dilemmas by asking open questions. It was a marvellous experience through which we grew as a group, learned from each other and shared lots of laughter.

I really appreciated the knowledge and expertise of our coaches and the energy they brought on the day. Through the workshop I met interesting people, learned about EI and leadership and became more aware of my weaknesses and strengths in terms of EI.

Thank you Sybille and Chris for an amazing experience.

Elena Novakova




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