By Tyrina Toh
Facilitated by Halogen Foundation Singapore and spanning over two days, student leaders were given the opportunity to engage themselves in a leadership workshop, where they were split into smaller groups by the nature of their positions. Through stumbling past two days of groggy mornings and smudged doodles on my booklet, I’ve learnt far more than applying adorable analogies to describe the concepts of leadership and applying these skills in reality.
Following the Kouzes and Posner leadership framework, the workshop made use of games and discussions to weave the path through five core values: modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. Several candid discussions about leadership tackling questions such as “How to not be like Trump?” and “How to motivate others?” complemented the customised Student Leader Practices Inventory (SLPI) 360feedback report effectively in encouraging self-reflection upon receiving honest feedback from our peers based on their observations of our skills.
The bulk of the more entertaining activities came in the second day where we were tasked with The Marshmallow Challenge where given a marshmallow, tape, a string and sticks of spaghetti, we were to build a self-standing tower with the marshmallow on the top. Following twenty minutes of laughter and peculiar ideas, only three groups emerged with standing fixtures, and our group’s mess of a (non-standing) fishing rod-like contraption with a marshmallow hanging off. As a lesson about prototypes and experimenting, it was later revealed that kindergarten children topped the charts when the same activity was held for various events and age groups.
We were pleasantly surprised by the task that greeted us after lunch on the same day. Asked to sit in chairs arranged in three rows, it seemed like a simple activity – perhaps passing a message of some sorts. Yet when the trainers asked us to lie back down on each other, the faces of some of the participants in the room fell comically. Indeed, we were asked to use our core, now duly filled to the brim by chicken and punch, to balance in a row with the chairs removed. With the duration of time taken increasing (along with the number of groans), everyone had their fill of amusement and adrenaline from the short activity. Indeed, with the last group’s removal of even the first person’s chair leaving him to support himself with his arms, the activity proved that teamwork was crucial and everyone in a team enables each other – in some way or another. It was a rather amusing analogy for enabling others in leadership.
As a finale to the two-day long event, a soothing playlist was put on and we were given postcards to write notes to a friend (or two) whom we’d observed and appreciated over the past few days. The last task of the workshop gave us a chance to write a letter to ourselves, which would be sent to us six months later. It still remains a conundrum about whether the last rush of emotions was due to the soothing playlist or an indication of self-reflection and awareness, but above all, this leadership workshop truly hit home and undoubtedly helped some, if not most of us.