Kate and I recently had the joy of taking part in Enterprisers, a week-long programme run by the Cambridge-MIT Institute that gives science-y PhD students a chance to come out of their shells.
I was the only facilitator out of 16 that had never actually been through Enterprisers before, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I committed… I’d been to leadership and business training programmes before as a student, but as a facilitator, my goal was to focus on bringing out the best in other people. Typically when I join a team I think I focus too much on what what I can contribute and what I can get done. I humbly thought this would be good preparation for running my own company and making the most of employees’ talents.
Being a facilitator is a strange role to be in, straddling two levels of ‘importance.’ On the one hand, I felt like a group leader, someone that knew what was going on and whom my group looked to for inspiration and approval. On the other hand, I felt insignificant as my role was to cultivate everyone else’s knowledge and abilities while keeping my own ideas and suggestions quiet. I ping ponged between these two perspectives as I led workshops on elevator pitches or personal values, but kept confidently quiet when brainstorming sessions were flowing smoothly.
I learned an incredible amount from working with and observing my group, but I’ll highlight three key takeaways:
1. Trust is key in team members working together smoothly. Not ‘fall into my arms’ trust, but ‘I believe that you have something to offer and that you’ll listen to me at the same time’ trust. Build it from the start, don’t wait until it’s an issue.
2. ‘Will being an entrepreneur make me happy?’ is a question more of us should ask ourselves before jumping blindly toward or away from starting a business (thanks Fizzy!)
3. Entrepreneurs are people, people with human motivations, insecurities, values, and identities. Enterprisers acknowledged this and built it into every aspect of the programme, and I think more entrepreneurship services should do the same.