Throughout the first four months of the MBA, we have been taught the importance of self-awareness in contributing to team work. Both first semester units have taught students to understand the benefits of working in a team, and the importance of trying to match your strengths and weaknesses into those of your teammates. ‘
Doing these things sounds simpler than they actually are, and the initial part of this process relates to self-awareness.
It can take a great deal of courage to critically examine yourself and say “You know what? I’m not very good at this.” Understanding that thought process and learning how important it is to listen to it formed part of our early learning outcomes. What follows that is equally important; after self-awareness comes doing something about what you have learned about yourself.
From the first three units of study in the MBA to date, group work has developed as a core part of getting through the course. Of the marks assigned to each assessment, 46 percent have come from group work, versus 54 percent for individual efforts. Even so, these figures don’t accurately reflect how integrated the cohort has become. For most of the individual assessments, many students worked together in collaboration.
For example, a couple of months ago I had two friends over one morning to discuss our progress in the recent data assignment over breakfast. Although this was an individual assessment, we each compared our approach to problems and discussed ways to interpret results – as well as providing a valuable sanity check for each other.
This co-operation came with a cost however – leading to some rather pointed feedback from my fellow students about basic cooking skills… (For the record, I haven’t forgotten this – you know who you are).
Granted, most of us don’t need to cook in the workplace. However, we often do need to call upon the skills of others to help us get our jobs done. Because the MBA is a generalist degree, no-one is an expert for the entire degree.
Doing assessments and receiving marks is one thing, but I see the real value of the program as something deeper than this. I believe working within teams to get the best outcome has forced us to develop valuable leadership skills. This course provides great opportunities to raise self-awareness, and develop ourselves accordingly – and these are skills that apply in almost any workplace.