Hero/Zero Moments and Assignment 1

Assignment 1(a): Hero/Zero Moments and Assignment 1(b): Reflective Leadership Journal

All assessments in this unit will be submitted electronically and plagiarism/pattern matching software may be used as part of the assignment submission process.

There are two major assignments that track the objectives of this unit: the self-awareness track and the theory track. Each assignment has multiple parts. Assignment 1 is individual in nature and Assignment 2 is mostly group.

Assignment 1. (35% total) Reflection based on evidence (submitted via the LMS). The goal of this reflection assignment is to allow you to gain an understanding of:

  • the assumptions that drive your thinking;
  • the extent to which these assumptions drive actions within and between contexts;
  • the extent to which you are currently practicing the capabilities of sensemaking, relating, visioning and inventing in order to build organisational resilience and/or to deal with adaptive challenges.

Carroll (2009, p43) summarises reflection as “the ability to think about the past, in the present for the future”. People commonly assert that the future is unwritten meaning that no one knows what the future is going to look like. Rather than being a glib statement, this is a profound truism that tells us that, while we may not be masters of our destiny, we are not victims of the past if we are able to learn its lessons. Turning to Figure 1, when things go wrong, most of us do our best to go through the entire cycle. However, do we have the tools to navigate the cycle successfully and effectively? If our evaluation or analysis, is off, our conclusions and plans may be erroneous, faulty or downright dangerous. On the flip when things go right, do we know why? Are we able to reproduce the success mindfully?

Figure 1: Gibbs (1998) Reflective Cycle

Gibbs (1998) Reflective Cycle

The key to learning these lessons stems from being able to reflect upon our experiences. To achieve this goal, Assignment 1 is structured into two parts.

1)  Assignment 1(a):a Hero and Zero write up 1,000 words (10%)

2)  Assignment 1(b): a final reflection (2,000 words) (25%)

  • Journal entries (no grade but forms evidence for the 1(b) Reflection assignment)

Assignment 1(a) Hero/Zero Moments

You are required to submit a write up of between 1,000 and 1,500 words. This write up is to be about Hero AND Zero moments in your life. I want to emphasise this key point: The Hero/Zero moments is about what you did or did not do, not what someone else did or did not do.

Hero/Zero Steps

Step 1:

1.)   Prepare

2.)   The first list is your Hero

A.)  This list describes three of your Hero moments. These hero moments are important positive outcomes in your past, personal, volunteer or professional, that happened as a result of you either performing an action (saying or doing something) that you should not have, or not performing an action that you should have. For each Hero moment write down:

  • The positive outcome (the result and why it was important);
  • Identify the specific action that you did or did not do (e.g. although I did not have the authority to make the promise to the customer, I did);
  • the reason why you made the decision to act or not;
  • Re-write this list in chronological

B.)   The second list describes three of your Zero moments. Again, write down:

  • The negative outcome (the result and why it was important);
  • Identify the specific action that you did or did not do (e.g. although I did not have the authority to make the promise to the customer, I did);
  • the reason why you made the decision to act or not;
  • Re-write this list in chronological order

C.)   Note that these acts may be acts of omission or Table 1 gives examples. You do NOT need to relate an incident in each quadrant.

Table 1:Examples of outcomes due to acts of commission or omission.

AchievedNot achieved
Act ofOmissionBy keeping silent, junior officers were forced to step up to the plate to deal with the problem.By not ‘rocking the boat’, a vital question was not asked, leading to an ineffective course of action  being chosen.
CommissionBy pushing the limits of your authority key stakeholders were moved to action.By acting in haste you committed the team to an unsound course of action.

Step 2:

3.)   Merge both lists into a time

Merge both lists into a time line.

Figure 2: Combined timeline of Hero and Zero moments

Step 3:

  1. Determine if there are any links between the Hero and Zero moments. For example,:
  • having achieved a Hero moment, an attempt was made to perform the same actions except this time the result was a Zero
  • Having experienced a Zero moment, you learned a valuable lesson which you applied next time round, leading to a Hero

Assignment 1(b): Reflective Leadership Journal

This assignment is a reflective assignment that is evidence-based. The evidence will be diary entries that will be used to inform your reflection. Learning to be reflexive is a key skill to develop in the work place as people will be telling you things about yourself. You have to decide how true or untrue they are.

Assignment 1b has two parts: diary entries and the Reflective Journal. The link between the two is that the diary entries will form the evidence, together with your Hero and Zero moments, that you will reflect upon in your Reflective Journal. If you have no diary entries, you can only reflect upon the Hero and Zero moments using the lenses provided by concepts in the course.

Diary entries: No marks

In week 1, you will decide on how frequently you will make your diary entries. These diary entries can only be viewed by you and teaching staff in the unit. No one else can view them. Diary entries are voluntary. Please number your diary entries.

What are the diary entries about?

Every week, you are expected to complete the required readings and complete the pre-seminar activities as well as the post-seminar activities from the preceding week. Many of the seminars will also have activities. The outcomes of the activities form the evidence to support any conclusion you draw about yourself in the Reflection. The central issue in relation to these diary entries is quality. Of course you can simply answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, but the question is ‘Why?” – Why did I get this result? Why did the seminar group react in this way? What assumptions did I make that led to the outcome? How did those assumptions come to be? Why didn’t I do it the other way? Why didn’t I recognise that my classmate would react in that way? Your answers to these questions can, and should be, used as entries. If you find yourself writing “if only… then….” you are going off track.

You will also need to apply the course concepts to the Hero and Zero moments. In relation to the Hero/Zero moments, and for the diaries to be useful, don’t make it about hindsight i.e. “I should have done X, or I should not have been quiet”. The central question here is why did you do X in the first place? Or Why were you quiet in the first place?

Reflection (25%): (2,000 words) See the LMS site for the deadline.; Submit in Word Compatible format; fully referenced (diary entries as well as academic references) please include your name in the file name.

Reflect upon your Hero and Zero CV and your diary entries to enhance your understanding of yourself. The goal of a reflection is to gain insight to the lessons of your experiences. This is the most important part of this assignment. There are three components to the Reflection:

  • report,
  • analysis and interpretation, and
  • action.


Report your findings about yourself. The activities, readings and questions are experiments that you conducted upon yourself. What happened when you undertook these activities, read the readings and answered the questions? Summarise and report these results from your diary entries.

Analysis and Interpretation:

You are expected to look back retrospectively at the results you reported. Adopt a high level view to tease out the patterns that exist in your experiences in the course. Apply course concepts to look at the Hero and Zero entries, and other diary entries you may have made to draw conclusions about your understanding of leadership, what it means to be a leader, your assessment of your leadership capabilities, assumptions that drive you, and default approaches to situations that may exist within you. Here are some starter questions to focus your analysis and interpretation. Please note that these are trigger questions only and are intended to aid your reflection. Do not use these trigger questions as headings, or structure your paragraphs around each of them.

  • Did you have difficulty identifying Hero moments? Why? What does that say about what you know about yourself? Similarly for Zero
  • Are there patterns in your Hero and Zero moments? What is (are) the common element(s)? Note you can make comparisons between Hero and Hero moment, Zero and Zero moments as well as between Hero and Zero
  • Why are they common?
  • Did you learn anything about why your Hero moments occurred? That is do you understand enough about them to reproduce them mindfully?
  • What are the key assumptions that drive your actions as a leader? Why do you hold these assumptions?
  • Do you have a default approach to problems?
  • Did this affect your Hero/Zero moments?
  • To what extent do you practice the capabilities of the DLM?
    • Are you a good Sensemaker? What evidence do you have?
    • Are you good at Relating? What evidence do you have?
    • Are you good at Visioning? What evidence do you have?
    • Are you good at Inventing? What evidence do you have?
    • Why do you rate yourself this way? Do you think your peers and subordinates would rate you the same way?
    • Did you treat an adaptive challenge as a technical challenge? Why?
  • Can you see patterns playing out in other parts of your professional or personal life?
  • How effective have you been?
  • How might you be more effective in your positions (or even in life)?

You need to reference your diary entries as part of your analysis and interpretation, either by number of by date. E.g. “from entries 1, 5 and 9, it is evident that I tend to avoid conflict. This raises the question of why I might do that?”


Having analysed your Hero/Zero moments, ask yourself what does this mean? Essentially, you are sensemaking your results and analysis. This answers the question of what have you learnt about yourself? This is a big picture perspective. You may find contradictions; you may find hidden strengths or unknown weaknesses. Link these insights back to the capabilities of the DLM i.e. the extent and quality to which you practice these capabilities.


The last part is to inform action. Having gained an insight to yourself, you need to develop

  • What have you done well and should continue to do?
  • What specific behaviour should you stop engaging in? Why?
  • What specific behaviour should you start engaging? Why?

In this last section, it is more than just 3 sentences. The identification of these behaviours should be flow from the data to your analysis and your interpretation. You must relate these actions back to the capabilities of the DLM.

Assignment 2. – a two-part assignment

Part 1: Organisational context; Part 2: Narrative and Resolution

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly”(Wenger, 1998, p. 1). This assignment seeks to leverage group knowledge and expertise to identify and remove barriers to employee engagement in a fictional firm. By utilising the approach used in this fictional firm, and by learning from the shared experience of peers, group members may be able to identify similar barriers in the workplace and enact courses of action to overcome them.

You will need to form groups of four by the end of Week 3.

Part 1: Organisational context (10%) 1000 – 1300 words; See the LMS site for the deadline.

Word-compatible format; please include your name in the file name.

Identify a barrier to employee engagement within your organisation that would also be common to other organisations and explain how it affects employee engagement. Your write up must be clear in identifying what you consider employee engagement, and the effect that the barrier has in preventing employee engagement. Ensure you provide sufficient contextual information.

To help you in this assignment, you have been asked to complete series of questions, respond to two different scales that are used to measure Employee Engagement and one scale to measure contextual ambidexterity. Please note that NONE of this data will be used for research purposes. They will be retained for one year (in line with University teaching policy) and then erased. You can use your responses to help you think about specific features of your organisation and the barriers to engagement that might exist. These responses may also assist in writing up the group narrative, the next assignment.

Part 2: Narrative and Resolution (25% total) (Narrative: 10%, 1,500 words ) Resolution: Presentation 15%; See the LMS site for the deadline.

Within your group, construct a narrative for a fictional organisation on employee engagement that includes elements of barriers identified by each group member. While one group member’s experience may form the core of the narrative, elements of barriers identified by each group member must be included in the narrative. To construct the narrative, the group needs to consider, but not be bound to, the data from Part 1. Use the scores to help create your fictional firm.

How might you go about creating the account of the barrier in this narrative assignment?

By incorporating the input from the group’s members, a plausible account must be created, e.g. one group member reports that it is a family firm with no career opportunities for non-family members as being a barrier for low employee engagement. Another might report that the boss, a long-time, trusted family friend, is an echo chamber, reflecting the opinion of the last person she spoke to; while a third reports of high workloads. Include each of these elements in your write up, and you get a firm where there is high employee turnover and work intensification, due to high workloads and with limited career progression. The result is employees are constantly manoeuvring for personal gain in the short time that they are there, with power struggles occurring constantly. The result is poor employee engagement arising from a low sense of community.

Once you have constructed the narrative, sensemake your system: that is identify the stakeholders, their interests and their loyalties and name the game that is being currently played and name the game that should be played.

Then, using concepts, tools and techniques from the course, prepare a presentation that analyses the key barrier to employee engagement and the adaptive challenge associated with this barrier. Describe, by developing the capabilities of the DLM, how you can enhance engagement (however you define it) and facilitate the development of ambidexterity in the organisation. Remember, you are not solving ALL the problems of the organisation. You are solving one part of a much bigger jigsaw. Demonstrate how your part fits into the wider picture of engagement and ambidexterity.

Supervised assessment – Exam (30%)

The exam will be closed book. To perform well, we do not recommend cramming in last minute work. Instead, students are asked to explore the concepts conveyed in the unit, and apply them. This will be an essay style based on a case study that will be given to all students late in the trimester.

Structured Assistance

The pre-and post-seminar activities in each week are intended to help students engage with the materials covered in the seminar and the readings. Look on these activities as a pebble being thrown into a pod: what do the ripples lead to and reveal? Why? Students are expected to complete several leadership development activities aimed at helping them to better understand themselves and their leadership capabilities and orientation.

Supplementary Materials

The following materials will be available to students over a 15-week period. These materials supplement the required readings offered to students. Students are expected to engage with this material in their own time. The materials provided include readings, Video/ online video materials and audio recordings.

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