The Denver MBA Leadership Journey

October 20, 2016

By Mithila Sharma, current Denver MBA student

The Denver MBA is a journey: through courses, events and real-world challenges, of course, but also into oneself. I’ve learned what kind of leader I am today, identified the leader I want to be, and I’ve been equipped with the tools to get from point A to point B. I know that how I show up as a leader will make an enormous difference in my career, and it is a great feeling to be on this journey.

I began seriously thinking about leadership due to an interesting component of the Denver MBA’s Enterprise Challenge (where we create and pitch actual business plans in the Denver startup community.) As part of this Challenge, we began receiving leadership coaching sessions in both group and individual settings. Sessions were to be centered around helping us mold the leader inside us, and I didn’t know quite what to expect.

My first session was in a group, in fact, it was with my Enterprise Challenge team. These are the same people I am building and pitching my startup company with. We met with our coach, Erik Mazziotta, to discuss our team dynamics and group leadership style, but before any discussion began we opened with a greeting ritual. We learned later that although the rituals were new to us, they tend to help teammates identify with one another, and to get into a collaborative and leadership-oriented mindset.

We proceeded to agenda-setting, where each team member spoke about what we wanted to accomplish through the session that day, and what we thought some measures were that we could implement to improve our team dynamics and interactions at a social level. While we each discussed what we expected from the group, we also discussed what has been working for us as a team. Our team was formed at the leadership retreat only three weeks prior to this group leadership coaching session, so we were definitely still getting to know each other!

Understanding each other is key in to effective group dynamics, so we spent some time discussing our individual stress points and the remedies that might help each individual get back into a productive zone. We then closed the session with another small ritual. I believe our team dynamics have really improved since this group leadership coaching session took place, and we weren’t done yet: we still had individual training sessions to attend.

Our individual leadership training sessions were a lot more personal – they were tailored to us in a very nuanced manner. I had to dig deep and confront issues that I, as an individual was facing at a leadership level.

This session started off with me sharing my background and getting acquainted with my coach, Jim Anderson, on a personal and professional basis. We then went over my Leadership Circle profile (example below), which is a comprehensive analysis of my leadership traits based on certain pre-determined parameters that have been rated by my colleagues/peers etc. tlcp-360-graph-final-print-layout-01

To become a better leader, the most important thing is to identify issues that are holding you back and the Leadership Circle profile certainly did that for me. With the help of my coach, I identified issues that I needed to improve on, and he helped me to create a plan of action on how to overcome them. We also discussed my career goals and how my reactive character traits could be holding me back from accomplishing my full potential. It was an amazing, insightful experience.