A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, as a member of Ambitious About Autism’s Youth Council, to take part in some training with the British Youth Council on Leadership. I had initial reservations, having taken part in similar training days before within different organisations, and found the sessions quite ‘standard’ and repetitive. But I was surprised by how in-depth and interactive the day was, and feel I have learned so much from the experience! I would strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to be involved in learning activities like this to pursue it, because there is so much you can gain and so much potential to develop your skills and confidence.
Throughout the day, we learned about various situations one might encounter as a leader. For example, we looked at planning an agenda, and talked through some of the possible considerations that go into doing this. There is a lot more to an agenda than just a list of what topics you plan on covering. An agenda needs to involve introductions – including roles, responsibilities, rules and safeguarding, and health and safety arrangements – as well as a potential ice breaker and timings for the day. It also needs to allow space for breaks, and for summaries of content from activities. At the end of any event you also need to think about further actions, feedback, and checking in on people’s wellbeing! Prior to the agenda you may also need to think about any pre-meeting arrangements too, and accessibility.
Some of the other sessions covered decision making, sorting out issues within a group of people, and the qualities of a good leader. One thing I found extremely interesting was learning about the different methods of decision making, which I’d never heard about before! A few of the methods discussed were consensus (used in societies such as NATO and when sharing out roles and responsibilities), expert (useful when you know someone with a level of expertise, who can make an executive decision) and authority without discussion (in totalitarian dictatorships, but also in emergency situations, when a quick decision is necessary). What was really interesting was how in-depth our discussions were; we thought about the positives and negatives of each method, and reflected on when they might have purpose!
Overall, I feel like the training was incredibly valuable, and not at all like I expected. I really didn’t imagine how interactive it would be and how much I would learn – I feel like I’ve picked up some new techniques and skills, and really opened my mind to all the different perspectives and approaches to leadership. I’ve reflected on how these relate to me and my life, even just as an individual. I want to thank the British Youth Council for providing my fellow Youth Council members and I with this opportunity, and also to remind other people to not make assumptions about training or dismiss it!