Yuck, BL position
Kirjoittanut: Esme Luhtala - tiimistä FLIP Solutions.
Rumors tell that back in the good old days BL position was the most wanted position in Proakatemia. Since many of our teampreneurs are here to gain knowledge on entrepreneurship and team leadership the interest in the business leader position doesn’t seem weird. However, nowadays it seems to be almost a trend that the teams struggle on finding new leads for themselves.
No matter if you wanna be a good leader or a good team member, continue reading. In this essay, I will not dwell on the negatives but will focus on why BL (or whatever term every team is using) position is something that every one of our teampreneurs should aim for. And hold on all the “old” BLs as well, your journey on this matter should not be over.
Whatever kind of personal life or career the person has a head of, gaining leadership skills will benefit the journey. First-hand knowledge and experience in leadership will help both in getting the kids to kindergarten as well as in convincing the builders to do their best with the new kitchen. Even an individualist hermit benefits from leadership skills, although there wouldn’t be anyone else to take part in the situation. And why all this is related to business leaders? Because Proakatemia’s BL position is one of the best places in the world to learn leadership skills. No soul has gotten here should wave for the opportunity.
There is no definitive list of what are the key skills of a leader, but the CCL, Center of Creative Leadership, has collected a list of core leadership skills they believe every leader, regardless of role, should master. They call them the ‘Fundamental 4’. (2020) Everyone’s BL experiences and learnings are different, but I dare to pledge my head that every BL ever has learned great lessons at least from one skill mentioned in Fundamental 4.
Unfortunately, many of the skills in life can be learned only to a certain level by studying them. Taking information is not equivalent to learning (Senge 2006, 13). It would be nonsensical to claim that ‘I learned to use manual gears just by reading books’. No book can tell what works the best for you in practice or how you end up feeling after taking different actions. If you don’t have plans to become a leader but to work under someone, putting yourself in the boots of the other role will still develop you like no book ever could. [Note: Is Proakatemia the right place to be if there is no interest to develop skills to become a better leader or a better team member?]
For too long, the assumption was that leaders had to be infallible, calm and collected, in control, fearless, complete. These leaders appeared to be born “hero” leaders [and apparently others born to serve]. But these old-school hero leaders, all-powerful inhumans, are no longer what companies want or need. Today’s society, and the business world along with it, shifts fast and is increasingly unpredictable. No single person has a foolproof recipe to solve the complex problems of our time. Employees have as well found out their self-worth and will no longer want to work as soulless cogs in some bigger machines. (Gentil 2021)
In the big real-life business world, these old school “hero” leaders are, as I write, trying to learn how they can move the focus away from themselves and to other individuals. They have realized, that if they want to lead learning and developing organizations, they need to get their teams, not individuals, to work as their fundamental learning units (Senge 2006, 10). While developing themselves, these hero leaders are commonly facing four different fears.
The fear of being human – show feelings and vulnerability.
The fear of connecting with their own emotions – abandon outdated mental firewalls.
The fear of chaos – emotions mixing up the organization.
And the fear of failing – not being good at the new way of leading. (Gentil 2021)
These leaders are learning everything Proakatemia is trying to teach us. There is no point in sailing through the program just to realize later that this was the updated way but you weren’t paying attention or trying to squeeze all the juice out. Organizations and institutions all over the world are sending their envoys to learn different practices from us. Just in the past three months, we’ve had visitors from Chile, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, UK, and Mexico (Parikka, 2021). Springs guest lists do not appear to be running shorter. My dear teampreneur, there is no better time to learn than now.
And why am I pushing especially the BL position? In addition to other more informal lessons, our BLs are entitled, even obliged, to receive weekly 1:1 sessions with the coach, by-weekly BL-pajas with peer support & learnings, and a real-life team to lead that will provide a challenge but will also give space to develop. The only other teampreneurs getting as much support for their learnings are assistant coaches. But since we only have two assistant coaches per year, I wouldn’t place all the bets on that one.
Just like the old-school leaders, we feel fear as well. It is a good thing to be worried that are you able to fill all the thousand expectations that the role generates. Good leaders know and admit that they don’t know everything. They aren’t the best at everything. They can’t do everything. And they can’t please everyone. If you are worried that you wouldn’t be a perfect BL, you are already on the right path and a better leader than some of those old-school “hero” leaders we look up to in the movies.
No matter your situation, apply for the role. The team wants you to succeed and will try their best to help your journey. You will not regret the learnings it will provide you. Old BLs and other leads, I wanna challenge you to apply as well. 2 seasons as a leader will still give you two years to learn how to be a team member. Every step on the team’s journey and your own development journey is different. You will gain more knowledge and deepen the old knowledge. A good leader is never ready – challenge yourself to apply.
Center for Creative Leadership. (2020) The Core Leadership Skills You Need in Every Role. Article. Released on 24.11.2020. Read on 19.03.2022. https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/fundamental-4-core-leadership-skills-for-every-career-stage/
Gentil, H. 2021. Leaders, Stop Trying to Be Heroes. Harvard Business Review. Article. Released on 25.10.2021. Read on 20.3.2021. https://hbr.org/2021/10/leaders-stop-trying-to-be-heroes
Parikka, E. 2022. Head of International Relations of Proakatemia. Teamsviesti 20.3.2022
Senge, P. 2006. The Fifth Discipline. The Art & Practice of The Learning Organisation. uud. painos. London: Random House Business Books.
I enjoyed this essay and see your point about there being a lesser interest for running for leader positions. I think Proakatemia is a safe and supportive environment to practice leadership strategies and skills because in the real world, it isn’t as easy and the support system isn’t always there.
That was great! I can relate to many things. The 6 months I was in the position of BL, was a time of hard work, but also huge self-development. Thank you my team for giving me that opportunity and Taru for so much valuable support. I think not taking any leadership position at Proakatemia is a missed opportunity. For some people, it takes longer and for others a shorter time to understand how this learning institution works, but certainly, it’s the test field for our skills or any new ideas. Be brave, time is now.
Kiitos mahtavasta esseestä Luhtis! Tykkäsin erityisen paljon noista johtajuuden neljästä ydintaidosta, sillä en ollut törmännyt niihin ennen. Kirjoitin omasta bl-kaudestani reflektoivan esseen (https://esseepankki.proakatemia.fi/huijarisyndroomasta-business-leaderiin) ja pohdiskelin omia taitojani mm. noiden neljän ydintaidon kautta, kiitos siis niiden nostamisesta! Iso kiitos myös sulle tuesta, mitä oon sultakin saanut mm. bl pajoissa. On ollut levollinen olo, kun on tiennyt, että muut business leaderit on aina saatavilla ja tukena. We both did such a good work during this spring! <3