Matej Dostál, Head of Languages Department at the Lauder Schools of Prague in the Czech Republic, is a participant in ORT’s LEAD Program and attended the launch seminar of this year’s program in London earlier this month.
Here he explains the impact the seminar had on him and his fellow delegates:
When the deputy head teacher in my school asked me, “Matej, would you like to go on this ORT leadership training, as the new Head of Languages Department?” I thought: “Ok, it will be a nice change, but probably not that useful.”
Now I know I should have instantly replied: “Yes! Yes, a thousand times, yes!”
Packing my suitcase, I was convinced that the other participants of the course would be boring, self-absorbed managers. Then I met everybody in the hotel lobby for welcome drinks and they seemed ok. As the evening went on, they became even better than ‘ok’ and by the end of the first session in ORT House the next day, I couldn’t believe my luck that I could get to know and spend time with all these amazing people from all over the world.
They were certainly not boring, self-absorbed managers. After a delicious welcome dinner with a number of ORT staff members as well as Dr Louanne Smolin and David Eaton, there was no doubt this was going to be a very special week.
On our second day, we were introduced to Christine Young and Graham Dring from the Institute of Education at the University College London (UCL), the facilitators of the course, who spent the rest of our stay in London with us. They introduced us to different leadership styles and the importance of being organized. Through various interactive activities, discussion sessions and time for self-reflection, we were guided to make important realizations about ourselves – a precious trend which became even more emphasized in the upcoming days.
We also realized another thing: while all of us were from different countries, cultures and environments, we had very similar problems, fought very similar battles and faced very similar fears and frustrations, which brought us even closer together.
The second day with Christine and Graham we explored in depth the different kinds of motivation, the concept of coaching and the vital importance to know our team very well. Yet again we looked a bit deeper into ourselves, evaluated our past decisions and clarified our priorities for our return back to our institutions.
On the final day – which was very active and hands-on – we learned how to have an unpleasant, difficult conversation at work, focused on team dynamics and tested our newly acquired skills in a set of interactive team-oriented activities.
The final graduation ceremony including the departing comments of each of us was a mixture of joy, pride, accomplishment and motivation on the one hand, and a great sadness and disillusion that the whole thing was soon to be over on the other.
The goodbyes, or rather ‘see you next times’ were of a depth none of us had imagined just a couple of days before. The fact that most of us are still in touch even now helps and is one of the great benefits of the LEAD program.
I’m eternally grateful to all the ORT people who made this happen and whose service was excellent throughout the whole event, to the HH Wingate Foundation and to Dr Louanne Smolin and David Eaton for sponsoring the LEAD program, to Christine and Graham for their superb course, and last but definitely not least to all the other amazing participants who made the whole week indeed so special.