United Kingdom

Can dyslexic action learner study a Master’s degree?

Am I academic enough? How about my dyslexia, will that effect? English is not even my first language. Will I have enough time and energy to do it part-time, alongside my full-time job?

There were many questions in my head when I started the Master’s course two and half years go. I knew I wasn’t really good ‘student’ as I don’t like sitting down, listening and remembering stuff for exams. I prefer action, learning-by-doing and experiential stuff. Could a girl with these characteristics do a Master’s degree?

My family is not academic and I haven’t had many academic role models either. The reason I studied my undergraduate course was probably because my friends went to University and because I found this entrepreneurship course that was actually for people like me (Tiimiakatemia/Team Academy), so it was all about running your own business and learning through the experience. Getting a BBA was a huge thing for me already, so I never even dreamed about doing a Masters degree.

Things changed when I started working at Northumbria University, in the North East of UK. I was suddenly surrounded by academics and pretty much everyone was studying too (most of them for doctorates though). Soon I was offered to study masters, which felt like an amazing opportunity even though I didn’t have a clue if I would be actually capable of doing it.

I was happy to hear that this course, MSc in Leadership and Management wouldn’t be the most traditional one. First of all, you could only do it part-time and everyone in the course had to be working for an organisation so that they could immediately apply the learned knowledge into practice. Then I was like YAY, that suits for me! And it did, all the modules and assignments were connected to you as a leader, you developing the organisation, researching it challenges and creating strategies to solve them.

During the course, I learned to like reading academic articles, even though it takes me twice as long (thanks dyslexia) and most of the times I fall asleep after few pages, I don’t know why, but that just happens. And I also created an interest in research, which I thought would never happen, I even wrote an academic article with my colleague, can you imagine that?

The last two and half years has been exciting, I have learned so many new things, but I must say that it hasn’t been easy, but then again life doesn’t need to be easy all the time.

So yesterday I did my final presentation, the final dissertation was already handed in a month ago. Now I just need to wait, few more weeks and I will know if I have done it. If I have been able to overcome all my fears and do the ‘impossible’…

If there are others like me, who think they don’t fit the normal University system but want to develop themselves further, don’t give up as there are programmes and courses that suit for us too, we can all do it if we really want to, if we just believe in ourselves and if we don’t give up!

 

Uncategorized

Cultural Intelligence on leading a multicultural team

In November 2015 we organised an International Team Learning event on behalf of Team4Learning association. I was leading the project but I had an amazing project team with me who were all from different cultures, one was from Finland, another from Spain and third from UK. So what did I learn from leading a multicultural team?

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence (CQ) is a capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures. People with CQ have confidence, motivation, interest and drive to adapt cross-culturally, they also understands intercultural issues and differences. They  make sense of culturally diverse experiences and they are good at planning accordingly, bu also good at changing verbal and nonverbal actions appropriately when interacting cross-culturally.

But it’s important to keep in mind that there is a risk if you try to adapt the culture too strongly. You might lose your authenticity, which again is a key for forging relationships in any culture. Like some people find it awkward, inauthentic or even resentful when trying to adapt behaviour overseas. And when you have such strong internal reactions to adapting cultural behaviour, your external performance can suffer. The negative feelings can leak into your performance and make you look awkward or unnatural and that’s something you don’t want to happen.

“Leaders who behave consistently with their own cultural values will engender more positive ratings of effectiveness than leaders who behave inconsistently with their own cultural values”

And it’s important to understand your own limits and how much you are willing to adapt, as example I am more than happy change the way I dress or how I speak, but I wouldn’t be comfortable in the situations where I would be really unequal with man just because I am a woman. As a conclusion you’ll have to break out of your comfort zone to some degree, but make sure you still retain who you are.

How far you would be comfortable to go?

My biggest learnings

I wanted to learn more about my Cultural Intelligence, so I did a Self-Assessment Questionnaire and that revealed some good development points for me, like the importance of planning and preparing on international interactions as at the moment I might be a bit too spontaneous on those situations.

One the biggest learnings for me in this project was when the Spanish member from my team told me how I could have been tougher and more demanding on my leadership. That was interesting as in North European countries like United Kingdom and Finland prefers coaching leaders and when compared to preferences from South European countries like Spain, they prefer directing leaders. I also know that my leading style is quite coaching and participative, and I involve others in decision-making, however this style is viewed as a weakness in many other countries. This is important learning for me, as when leading people from different countries I have to research for what kind of leadership they are used to and then use my cultural intelligence to find the best way to adapt to the situation.

As mentioned earlier, I could be better on strategy and planning and maybe that is some of yours challenge as well. That’s why I want to share these four questions with you, which at least I am definitely going to use when leading an international projects in future:

  • Drive: What’s your motivation for engaging with the cultural dimensions of this project?
  • Knowledge: What cultural differences will most influence this project?
  • Strategy: How will you plan in light of the cultural differences?
  • Action: How do you need to adapt your behaviour to function effectively on this project?

It’s important to remember that everyone will make mistakes when experimenting with cultural adaptation and you shouldn’t punish yourself for them. You can go long way by just signalling to others that you’re trying to learn their cultural rules and that you actually care and respect their traditions, even though you haven’t mastered them yet.

Here a little video of our International Team Learning Event:

 

References:

  • Livermore, D., Van Dyne, L., and Ang, S. (2012). Cultural Intelligence: Why every leader needs it. Intercultural Management Quarterly, 12, (2), 18-21.
  • Livermore, D. A., Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L. (2015). Leading with cultural intelligence: The Real Secret to Success. New York: AMACOM American Management Association.
  • Molinsky, A. (2013). When Crossing Cultures, Use Global Dexterity. Harvard Business Review.