Leadership- My Toronto Experience

This week has probably been the most unusual week of my internship. I say this because last week, my company decided to discontinue working with one of its larger clients. This client is a company that I have been working with since the middle of May, even before I arrived here in Toronto. The week started off  normally as my fellow interns and I worked in our client’s office on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, on Thursday we were working out of our own office when my operations manager called us into a meeting. She broke the news to us that the CEO of the client company was refusing pay his employees. She told us that many of the people we had been working with had refused to show up that morning and that the company was in a rough spot. The very next day we received notice that we would not be going back to our client’s office for the foreseeable future. The other interns and I were shocked at how quickly it escalated. We went from working there nearly full time, to never going back, all within two days. Now into this week’s prompt.

Prior to this experience, I would say that my leadership style was largely based on leading by example. Whenever working with my fellow interns, playing on a sports team, or working on a group project, I always try to work as hard as I can. I believe that the best way to lead is to set a high standard for yourself and be your own toughest critic. If you have high standards for yourself and others see that you are working hard to the best of your abilities, it will often give them the added motivation to do the same. I think this methodology is far more effective than simply offering words of encouragement or struggling to keep your peers on task. Additionally, I believe I am an effective communicator. Communication is vital when it comes to leadership as your message needs to be effectively shared across across each part of the team. A team with effective leadership communication is much more productive and organized and ultimately can take on larger and more difficult tasks.

I would say that my internship abroad has not really challenged my view of leadership, but has actually strengthened it. Working in the Venture Capital space, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with several different companies. Each of these companies is run by a different management team and each have their own leadership style. I have been able to experience these varying styles and learn which styles I think are best and most effective. When the boss who’s sending out orders and assigning tasks is working tirelessly, it inspires me to get on board and work hard on the projects at hand. Inversely, when the communication is p1oor and I do not feel that the leadership team is working hard, it can be very disheartening. Also, when work is assigned without getting an explanation as to what the future is for the company or understanding why I am completing the task, it can make it difficult to stay motivated. These experiences have helped me realize which leadership styles I enjoy the most, but also I understand that everyone is different and responds differently to different styles.

I believe that I am becoming a better leader by constantly working in a team environment. I am often asked to work on collaborative projects or lead certain areas of research. The more practice I get working in a team environment and delegating and dividing up tasks, the better I get at communicating effectively in a group. I also have learned how people respond differently to different leadership styles. Some people are motivated by the pep talks and excited attitude, while others respond better to a different style. Some are more motivated by a positive work environment and strong leader who leads by example. I have been able to observe what I liked and what I didn’t and have made a note in order to implement them into my future leadership positions.

I believe leadership is an important characteristic to have at any job, no matter if you are the CEO or a brand new intern. Leadership has the ability to unite the people around you and produce work that is far outside any individual’s capacity. I am excited to take what I have learned from my experiences in Toronto and apply them into my future career.