Embarking on an internship abroad has not only provided me with valuable professional experiences but has also challenged my preconceived notions about leadership. Interning at patientMpower, a data analytics startup in Dublin that focuses on monitoring chronic lung condition patients, I have been exposed to a unique leadership style characterised by shared responsibilities and a collaborative approach. In this blog post, I will explore how my internship experience has reshaped my view of leadership, the lessons I have learned, and how I am becoming a better leader as a result of this transformative journey.
Before this internship experience, my leadership style aligned with a collaborative approach. In my previous leadership positions at college clubs, I valued input from team members and believed in empowering them to contribute their ideas and insights. I sought to create an environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing their perspectives, fostering a sense of inclusivity and teamwork. By actively listening and gauging the room, I encouraged open dialogue and encouraged individuals to contribute based on their strengths. However, this did not always work. In one such position, I tried desperately to have each member of my team contribute equally, yet no matter what strategies I tried, I was consistently disappointed. I found that my leadership position did not give me the power needed to motivate my team, and therefore it never functioned even remotely effectively.
My internship at PatientMpower has challenged my preconceptions about leadership. At the startup, I observed a unique leadership style that differed from the traditional top-down hierarchical structure. Instead, the company embraced a shared leadership model where everyone assumed different levels of responsibility based on their expertise and strengths. I believe that this is much more Irish way of leading, and what I usually experience is a uniquely American style.
One of the standout aspects of the leadership style at PatientMpower is the absence of a bombastic or authoritarian CEO figure. The CEO demonstrated a humble and approachable demeanor, valuing collaboration and fostering a culture of mutual respect. This contrasted with my previous assumption that a CEO needed to be extroverted and assertive. The shared leadership approach allowed individuals to contribute their unique perspectives without feeling overshadowed or restricted.
This internship experience has challenged me to reassess my approach to leadership. Initially, the absence of a clear hierarchical structure created a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity. I had to navigate through unfamiliar territory, learning to embrace shared responsibilities and adapt to a more fluid leadership dynamic. It required me to be proactive, take ownership of tasks, and collaborate effectively with colleagues who possessed diverse skill sets.
Through this experience, I realized the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and trust in a shared leadership environment. I discovered that leadership is not confined to a single person or role but is rather a collective effort driven by a common goal. By embracing this new perspective, I recognised the power of fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute.
My internship abroad has been instrumental in shaping my growth as a leader. By witnessing and experiencing a shared leadership model, I have become more adept at understanding the strengths and perspectives of my team members. I have learned to appreciate the value of creating an inclusive and collaborative space where ideas are freely shared and diverse viewpoints are respected.
Additionally, this experience has honed my ability to adapt to new environments and embrace uncertainty. I have become more comfortable navigating ambiguous situations and finding innovative solutions. The internship has also highlighted the significance of effective communication, active listening, and building strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect.
As I continue to progress in my internship, I am committed to applying the lessons I have learned to my future leadership endeavors. I aim to foster an environment that encourages collaboration, empowers individuals, and embraces diverse perspectives. By recognizing and appreciating the strengths of each team member, I will strive to create a positive and inclusive work culture that drives collective success.
The featured image for this week is of a steer (not a cow as the title implies). My parents came to Ireland for about a week and this weekend we went and saw Doolin, and then hiked 8km of the Cliffs of Moher. The trail was generously given by 38 different farmers, but the trail is just at the edge of the cliffs, so the farmland is still being used. And as with the rest of the countryside, it is rife with animals. Many cattle were visible across the hike, but this is the lone identifiable steer. I don’t actually have many picturesque pictures of the spectacular vista that is the Cliffs of Moher, otherwise I would’ve used those. I also don’t want to rob you of the experience if you ever choose to go yourself!