Management and Leadership Learning

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Introduction

In the field of management, I have managed to learn a lot and HBH 226 is a subject that stands out from the rest due to the knowledge that I have acquired through its study. Through this subject, I have gained a lot of information about the human resource functions that characterize every field of management in an organization. These acquired skills would be helpful in my career development since I would be able to apply it in the working environment. This paper will address on the experiences that I have acquired over time during the study and would help me plan on my future endeavors. This will be done using the KOLB experimental model. This model functions by assessing how experiences acquired are integrated into the learning process. This model is a four-stage process that includes active experimentation, reflective observation, concrete experiences and abstract conceptualization.

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Concrete Experience

One of the important sessions we had in class was the Facilitation Session that was an interesting way of learning. This 25-minute facilitation program involved, firstly, the forming of groups of twos. Each group was supposed to consist of one international student and a local student. At first, it was a difficult task deciding on whom to collaborate with and form a group. I am an international student and I am not a native speaker of English. I am, however, fluent enough and can easily communicate in English.

With time, I met someone whom I could associate. I quickly knew that she would be a good partner. We had to familiarize ourselves and therefore, we talked and learned more about ourselves. This was essential since partnership is made successful through trust. A week later, we were notified that each group had to select a suitable topic from the chapters from the book we were studying in class. Since my group was comfortable doing any of the topics in the text, we asked the tutor to assist us in selecting a topic. At first, the topics looked easy to work on but with time, I learnt that it was not a bed of roses. The topic that we finally settled for was the one dealing in the effective ways of leading a HRD team during the designing of a learning program.

When we began the Facilitation Session, it was quite confusing at the first instance. This was because it was different from a typical oral presentation. Starting the Facilitation Session was a difficult task by itself. The solution was, however, in the books. We read on the topic widely and acquired the required knowledge. Further still, I consulted my friends in class to help me out by explaining to me what the Facilitation Session entailed.

The advantage was that our group’s Facilitation Session was in the 11th week and therefore, we had plenty of time to prepare and perfect on it. Another advantage was that we had the opportunity to watch other groups make their presentation. Due to unavoidable circumstances, however, we missed a few presentation sessions and did not meet for discussions. This had a negative effect on our progress of the Facilitation Session.

Two week to our presentation, we started setting realistic goals on how to complete our Facilitation Session successfully. We shared the duties between us and each person was aware of what was expected of the assignment. With time, we both completed our respective tasks and it was time to practice and perfect on the presentation skills. We set a specific date and time for the practice sessions and since I come from the city, I was flexible. My partner was therefore, the one to choose an appropriate time that would fit with her schedule. We set a specific time and perfected on the presentation. Come the presentation day, we were well prepared but I was a little nervous. The presentation went well and we were proud of our great work.

Reflective Observation

It was a great relief after the presentation day was finally over and successfully for that matter. I appreciated every moment I spent working on the Facilitation Session since it helped build my confidence and I was made conversant with some important aspects of teamwork. Some of the important lessons learnt during the Facilitation Session were the conditions that must be met for a team to be successful. I was able to gather that a team could only be successful if each member contributed towards achieving the goals. Through observation, I was able to conclude that our team would be a great one. This was because of the deep connection that we developed at the first instance. Another strong point was the fact that we kept communication going and maintained contact throughout the whole period.

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Another lesson learnt was on time management. Time management was a very important aspect in the Facilitation Session since the task was time-bound and had a strict deadline. What I was able to gather about time management is that perceptions and attitudes towards the use of time differed from country to another and among cultures. This notion is also supported in text since it is well known that psychological contracts are affected by the nature of the process in terms of the social setting (Kruger 1999, p.182). Among the Arabs, for example, lateness is condoned and sometimes expected but in Australia, time is of essence. Those from the Arabic world therefore, had to adjust and do what the Australians do best-keep time.

Another lesson learnt was on leadership. Since the group was only made of two members, we distributed the power between the two of us. In my opinion however, this was not such a great move since it would have made more sense choosing one leader. One of the reasons why some people fear the position of the leader is the fear of failure or responsibility. The abilities of people to perform as leaders differ since people’s personalities vary.

During the Facilitation Session, I had the opportunity to interact with other groups and learn about their topics. A particular topic on diversity caught my attention. I was able to learn about and appreciate the different cultures. When someone is integrated into another culture, a person’s attitudes towards that culture would depend wholly on the person’s past experiences with that culture (Hays, Prosek and McLeod, 2010). Someone should however, not judge a whole community basing on the behavior of an individual since it could be deceiving (Alston and Takei, 2005). I personally gained from this lesson since I previously had some negative perceptions towards other cultures due to incidences I observed in certain individuals.

The Facilitation Session also helped me to adjust into and feel comfortable in the new culture and environment. At first, there were some social and mental challenges. However, working in a more interactive way created relationships that drove all fears away. I managed to adjust well and appreciate the Australian culture. The challenges that were associated with communication due to my lack of fluency in English were eliminated with time. In order to improve my English, I read a number of books and watched English TV.

One important thing I learnt about adjusting into a new environment is that when someone learns to interact with other people from the different cultures, one would feel much comfortable around them and the adjusting process would be an easy one. Time is an important aspect because it is after time that relationships are created and trust is earned. With time, friendship is created and this would mean that you have people whom you can count on and be accountable to.

Abstract Conceptualization

During the study, I was able to learn a lot on Human Resource Development. The textbooks used in class were also very informative since the theory in the text connected to the practical sessions that we had. The practical sessions supplemented the theory classes. Some of the great lessons learnt in class include behavior modification, classical conditioning, adult learning theories and many other important lessons.

The differences and dimensions of cultures discussed by Hofstede helped me understand and appreciate the different cultures. Hofstede explained that the diversity in cultures depended on the background of the individual (Kustin, 2006). His theories have been applied by many and are useful in explaining some of the differences that exist among cultures in the world. Hofstede did this by coming up with the five factors.

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His first factor, individualism vs. collectivism indicates the level of cohesion among individuals. In the case of Saudi Arabia, collectivism describes the society since people tend to work in groups. Whole families rather than individuals usually run businesses. Collectivism can also be seen in the way people approach certain problems collectively within the society.

Power distances that exist in a society determine the power distribution among the people in the society. In societies where such differences occur, the less powerful individuals feel inferior and owe it to the differences between them and their counterparts. Saudi Arabia is an example of society with a large power distance and this can be seen in the business sector. Some people get more access to jobs than others hence the inequalities in regards to distribution of power and wealth.

Power distribution between sexes varies depending on the country’s beliefs and cultures. Generally, women have always been given fewer rights than their counterparts and this is the case in Saudi Arabia. This is due to the culture and beliefs of the Muslim community. Recently, however, changes have been on going and women are getting more representation in the political world.

The level of awareness of a country to uncertainty is explained by Hofstede’s weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance theory. Saudi Arabia, in this case, does not accept uncertainty and this has resulted to the putting in place of strict rules and laws. The long vs. short-term orientation theory explains the level of commitment of a country to its future. The Islamic nation values their culture and therefore, passes it from generation to generation for posterity. Basing on the information above, I can understand why I felt so different from the rest of the classmates. Sometimes it is even hard working with them.

Problems encountered in a team may be solved using instrumental learning which is a task-oriented procedure (Ho, 2009). It involves the use of secondary material such as empirical research. The course on Human Resource, for example, has been studies by various professionals and therefore, providing the students with important information.

I also learned a lot when I finally applied the learning principles that include feedback learning, being ready to learn and use of active learning. I can applaud myself for being an effective team player even though I was an international student and was unfamiliar with that environment. Communication was the tool used to form a great team.

Communicative learning may involve the use of speech, written communication or gestures to communicate within a group (Yorks and Nicolaides, 2006). My group used speech as the major form of communication. We compared that to the other forms of communication applied by other groups and appreciated the differences.

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During the day of presentation of the Facilitation Session, I was very nervous owing to the fact that we were not very prepared and this caused anxiety to build. My partner was however, optimistic and encouraged me from time to time. Hirschhorn (1988) believed that such anxiety from one member of the group could cause an anxiety chain and lead the others to use excuses that would evade them from performing.

Active Experimentation

The Facilitation Session played a great part in assessing the dynamics of my personality while under different pressures. I learnt how to behave in a group situation and how to be an effective team player. I also learnt that leadership is important in a team situation and a team that does not have a team leader is likely to land on some trouble. A leader coordinates the activities of the group and ensures collaboration. At times, however, it is a good idea to share power among members in order to ensure equitability of responsibilities.

An effective leader is not one who dictates in the group but allows others to contribute their ideas on how to manage the group’s activities effectively (Delahaye, 2005). This way, the group would be able to achieve their set goals. The group situation also enabled me to appreciate collectivism as an effective way of working. Through collectivism, knowledge and ideas are shared and this leads to accomplishment of the task.

I also acquired some skills on time management during the Facilitation Session. At first, I was poor in time management and that had a negative impact on the Facilitation Session but with time, I learnt to manage my time effectively. I am currently thinking of gaining some work experience here so that when I go back to my home country, I could apply for a job at the Human Resource Management department and put my skills at work.

One other thing I appreciated was the fact that the tutor gave use the opportunity to look for our own partners for the group. This was a great move since it gave people the chance to look for people whom they could feel comfortable. Working with a person from a different culture also helped me appreciate other cultures and know how to handle other people. This would also help me in my future career since I would interact with many people from diverse cultures.

With the skills I have gained, I would be in a good position to tackle the other projects effectively. I would try to apply every skill to the future assignments in order to gain more success. Such skill as those of team building would be of great help. I would also encourage the effective use of leadership in the future group sessions in order to avoid some of the conflicts that arise when there is absence of a group leader. I would also appreciate other people’s cultures and use it as strength rather than a weakness. Everyone is unique and possesses different abilities and talents. When everyone contributes in the group and offers his or her ideas, the team would be effective.

In conclusion, I appreciate the basic skills acquired on human resource management. Since human resource management is the management of the human resource, I have acquired skills on how to lead a group effectively. Leadership is essential in human resource management and effective leadership skills are necessary for such a leader. The Facilitation Session was a great experience since I was exposed to a team situation that would benefit me in my future career since I would be working as a team. I would employ the skills of team building and be an effective team player and team leader. Working in the Human Resource Management department is my dream career and I would apply every skill acquired in class.

References

  1. Alston, J., Takei, I., 2005, Japanese Business Culture and Practices: A Guide to Twenty-First Century, published by iUniverse, Lincoln, NE, USA.
  2. Delahaye, B.L. 2005, Human Resource Development, 2nd Edition, Wiley, Australia.
  3. Hays, D., Prosek, E., McLeod, A., 2010, “A Mixed Methodological Analysis of the Role of Culture in the Clinical Decision-Making Process”, Journal of Counseling & Development, Vol. 88, Iss 1, p. 114.
  4. Hirschhorn, L 1988, The Workplace Within; Psychodynamics of Organizational Life, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  5. Ho, W., 2009, “Gender differences in instrumental learning among secondary school students in Hong Kong”, Gender and Education, Vol. 21, Iss. 4; p. 405.
  6. Kruger, P. 1999. Betrayed by work. Fast Company: 182-196.
  7. Kustin, R., 2006, “A Study of Hofstede’s Culture Value Survey in a Post-Soviet Country: Perspectives from Belarus”, Journal of Transnational Management, Vol. 11, Iss. 4; p. 3.
  8. Yorks, L., Nicolaides, A., 2006, “Complexity and Emergent Communicative Learning: An Opportunity for HRD Scholarship”, Human Resource Development Review, Vol. 5, Iss. 2; p. 143.

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