The Systems Skills for Managers Course at Virginia Tech

Our colleague Tom Hickok at the Department of Defense as been using Leadership Metaphor Explorer for team building, and for teaching management topics at Virginia Tech. In the note below he shares his successful recent experience using LME in his System Skills course.


I took out the Leadership Metaphor Explorer (LME) cards two nights ago and used them with my Systems Skills for Managers class at Virginia Tech. I have 21 students in the class, all studying for their MPA. They are almost all engaged in the workforce, with some in federal and local government, some in the private sector (contracting to the federal government, and some in the non-profit sector. It has been one of those classes filled with positive energy, which has made it an especially fun semester for me.

I changed the seating from u-shaped to tables of four before the class, so there was a sense of anticipation from the start. Also, I laid the cards around the room. In the class, we are entering a module on project management, and I engaged the class at the start with some perspectives on project management with input from around the room. some in federaland local government, some in the private sector (contracting to the federal government, and some in the non-profit sector. It has been one of those classes filled with positive energy, which has made it an especially fun semester for

Then I turned to the LME exercise. People were instructed to pick LME cards which spoke to them about a challenge at work, or an opportunity to get through the challenge. Students were instructed to let their table-mates (3 or 4 to a table) describe the cards before they say why they picked them. People spent about 10 minutes or a bit less selecting the cards and 20-plus minutes at the tables. What a buzz! Every table lit up. Once again, the point proved out that visual images are an amazing entryway into dialogue. me.

In the de-brief, the students pointed out there were some polarities where people who had picked the cards saw positive where there table-mates saw negative. In retrospect, I could have asked a more individual question such as what insight they gained from their team-mates or to describe their challenges to the group. But the feedback on the exercise was entirely positive.

About Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth & Steadman Harrison III

Charles J. Palus & David Magellan Horth are Senior Fellows at the Center for Creative Leadership. Steadman Harrison III is CEO of Global Outreach International, CEO of GOinnovation.com, and Senior Associate for the Center for Creative Leadership.
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