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Course In Focus – Leadership and Group Dynamics | By Devansh Singh Rathour, YIF 21

Sometimes the only option we have in our life is to lead through our adversities on our own - we all have the potential to do it. The LGD week was certainly an experiential time for all of us in very different yet similar ways.

Office of PR & Communications

15 February, 2021 | 8 min read

Packing my bags to come to campus and realising I will be in the quarantine for ten days, I decided to check the course outline for the course “Leadership and Group Dynamics” by Professor Kenwyn Smith scheduled for term four. At first, I was overwhelmed with the commitment it demanded and the long nine-hours of class per day. But being more optimistic about the new year, I decided to dive into the course. Professor Smith had a powerful energy in himself, one that you rarely see in a zoom class. His commitment and excitement for the course were infectious enough to spill over to the cohort. I remember being intimidated in the initial days because of the stakes and rigour it expected from you.

Parallelly, I and almost half of the cohort were also going through a different kind of experience – living in quarantine at a new place. For most of us it was completely out of our comfort zones. As the saying goes that you learn the most when you are not in your comfort space, the class embarked on a learning journey that would involve us exploring what it means to be vulnerable with a community that you have never met in physical life. As the course progressed, the fellows got divided into three groups who would read three different books written by Professor Smith. The book my group was mandated to read was “Yearning for Home in Troubled Times”. The book touched my heart in a manner that made me reflect on my life and the nomadic lifestyle I have lived moving from one place to another, finding an emotional-spiritual home. The book made our group introspect about our unique life journeys and think about the times when we felt lost in our lives.

The primary way of fostering learning in the class was through group discussions and reflections about the same. Every day we would come together as a community to discuss the book and in the process, observe and comprehend the different group dynamics that played out. As the days progressed, discussions became more intense and emotional. As a result, the walls got broken down between people, but some new ones also got built. People took more initiatives to lead the conversation and also open up with their personal stories as the days passed. I realised that we as a community had created a safe space unconsciously through our group bonhomie. I felt close to the people on my zoom screen whom I had never physically met in real life – it felt I had known them since forever. It was a beautiful experience in the making – our educators had created the perfect nudges for us to fight, express, communicate, lead, and appreciate the group we had found.

By the end of the course, my experience was completely different than what I had imagined. The limited mobility due to my quarantine had given me no option but to confide in the people I had found in my group. Is that the reason I felt what I felt? I believe I am grateful for the circumstances that enabled my course experience. I am thankful to Professor Smith for sharing his vulnerabilities of “yearning for a home” – his stories gave me the vocabulary to define my predicaments and learning lessons. Sometimes the only option we have in our life is to lead through our adversities on our own – we all have the potential to do it. The LGD week was certainly an experiential time for all of us in very different yet similar ways.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka