We asked Harry Jerome, a previous Aspiring Leaders learner, to share his experience on the Aspiring Leaders Programme and what he learnt. 
Hi! I’m Harry- I work for Coalville CAN, a community benefit society based in Coalville, Leicestershire. My role right now is as the Secretary, as well as supporting our projects in various ways with my personal skillset. But I still aspire to do more, and part of that aspiration was taking on this course to build up my skills and confidence to lead my own project, making progress locally in ways that are personal to me. 
Other leadership training and material often cover how to manage and work with people, but this course pleasantly surprised me by having a more introspective approach. It felt like the natural approach to this kind of work in the VCSE sector. While understanding how to work with a team, it wasn’t just how to manage people but how to be a good role model and guiding figure to the group. 
The course helped me think a lot about myself to work out how to become the best leader I can be, even if I don’t always feel like a leader. Looking at different styles of leadership, it helped me realise that even if I don’t identify with the typical archetype of a leader, I have plenty of strengths to leverage when working with a team. Throughout the course, I got a lot of opportunities to understand myself- My personality and leadership style, knowing my limits and areas of improvement, and importantly how to recharge myself when a difficult problem or situation is causing lots of stress. 
“I was able to narrow down what’s important to me, and this has been important in helping decide what to commit to in the workplace.” 
One of my favourite topics covered was looking at Jungian factors. Placing myself on a scale of Reflective to Extraverted, and Analytical to Feelings-focused helped me identify my own strengths, and gave me a new perspective on my place within my team at work. If I’m struggling with a task because I have too much of a cautious approach, I can identify people on my team with a bolder, more extroverted style of work to help cover my weaker areas. When conflicts come up, it’s easier to identify when the issue is a difference in opinion and personality, so I find it easier to see from the other person’s perspective so we can reach an agreement. 
Another very important topic we covered was motivational drivers. From a leadership perspective, it is of course important to understand why our team members are motivated, but I hadn’t spent much time at all before the course looking at my own motivations- What drives me to create change and participate in my job role actively. Thanks to the discussions we had, I was able to narrow down what’s important to me, and this has been important in helping decide what to commit to in the workplace. 
One thing that I really valued about the course was the opportunity for a one-to-one mentoring session regarding my project. I had really enjoyed the course going over a personal project, giving it some immediate practical use rather than being information to file away until needed, but as I’m very much in the ‘Aspiring’ part of ‘Aspiring Leaders’, still looking to start leading my first project at Coalville CAN, I was slightly intimidated! But the mentoring session was an excellent one-on-one opportunity to discuss my concerns and anxieties with a an expert while also getting more general feedback on the project plan and idea. My project is currently still in the pipeline to begin later in this year but I will definitely be returning to my project book to make sure it’s the best it can be- I have already shared blank copies of the book with my team at Coalville CAN after talking their heads off about it! 
Finally, the course made for a great networking opportunity. Working with other people in the sector offered me the chance to pick up plenty of insights from people with lots of lived experience, and I have made some very useful connections from the course. 
Tagged as: Aspiring Leaders
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