ARL leadership workshop, Day 1

On the formal DISC assessment that we did, I scored as high on Dominance. A few excerpts:

“This person’s tendencies include getting immediate results, causing action, accepting challenges, making quick decisions, questioning the status quo, taking authority, managing trouble, and solving problems. “
“To be more effective, this person needs to receive difficult assignments, to understand that they need people, to base techniques on practical experience, to receive an occasional shock, to identify with a group, to verbalize reasons for conclusions, to be aware of existing structure, and to pace self and relax more.”

The assessment also measured two types — who you are under stress, when you’re your natural, truest self — and who you think your work environment wants you to be. Under stress, I score as Results-Oriented. The self I want people to see is Creative. Highlights:

The Results-Oriented person “displays self-confidence, which some may interpret as arrogance. … tend to avoid constraining factors such as direct controls, time-consuming details and routine work. Because they are forceful and direct, they may have difficulties with others. …are quick thinkers and they are impatient and critical toward those who are not. They evaluate others on their ability to get results. …they take command of the situation when necessary, whether or not they are in charge.”

The Creative person “…desire for tangible results is counterbalanced by an equally strong drive for perfection, and their aggressiveness is tempered by sensitivity. …exhibits foresight when focusing on projects, and they bring about change. …have a drive for perfection and demonstrate considerable planning ability. …want freedom to explore, and they want authority to examine and retest findings. …they may be cool, aloof, or blunt.”

Neither of those is inaccurate. Neither of them is perfect, either, in that, of course, I am, as we all are, many more things than just my professional persona. But my professional persona, and my core personality as demonstrated through my professional activities? Yes. I’m Results Oriented at my core, and I strive to change the more abrasive parts of that persona in ways that make me more like the Creative type. Am I still a Dominance-oriented person? Absolutely.

What I thought most about through our discussions and group activities about this assessment was that it’s accurate — and that’s okay. Sure, I fall into the most ‘negative’ of the types, but that doesn’t make me an ineffective manager or unpleasant colleague. I’m better than that — I know who I am, I know where my strengths and weaknesses are, and I’ve spent years trying to soften my edges, acquire some patience and humility, lessen my perfectionist standards to accommodate the strengths and weaknesses of others, and generally be a better version of myself. Which is what I said when we were asked to introduce ourselves — I want to be a better me. I like who I am, and I understand what I’m good at, so I don’t want to change myself. I want to do what I do better, more effectively, and more productively. D.J. pointed out that it’s not enough to say “who am I?” but that you have to take it one step further and say, “how does that work out for me?”, so that you can then make the necessary changes to keep being you, but being the most effective you that you can.

We were asked to ‘lean into your discomfort’, to explore the parts of the workshop that made us uncomfortable. Do I like being described as “aloof” or “impatient and critical”? Not really. Do I think it’s more accurate than not? Absolutely. But I also know that my discomfort with those things is what leads me to be a better me — if I don’t like something, I’m damn well going to fix it. That, too, is a part of who I am.

So I spent a lot of time, and about 20 pages of notes, thinking about how to be the best me that I can be. I have a lot of ideas, and a lot of pride in the changes I’ve already made to blunt my edges.

Further observations from my notes:

  • I like filling a bridge position between the professionals and the paraprofessionals, interpreting one for the other to facilitate effective communication.
  • When organizations want to change the way we make decisions, we change our organizational structures — instinctively. But does that actually change the way we make decisions?
  • If you top-down define “adequate”, people direct their energy at being adequate. Instead, we need to motivate people to be exemplary.
  • The effectiveness of a decision is equal to the quality of the decision multiplied by the acceptance level. As in, a superb decision that half the group is in favor of (10×5=50) may be less effective than a good decision that the whole group can get behind (7×10=70).
  • We judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intent.
  • Most people’s decision making follows the pattern of Observe, Select Data, Interpret Selected Data, Make Assumptions, Generalize, Come to Conclusions, Believe in Conclusions, Act on Beliefs. Conversations that happen at the level of beliefs and conclusions are very hard to sway or compromise on — they need to go back to observations and data, before assumptions, before we can effectively talk about how to reach agreement.
  • On the DISC model, D&I are product-oriented, and S&C are process-oriented. What happens when you have an entire team or group or committee or department of process-oriented people? Gorgeous process but no end product. Product-oriented? Great results, slapshot implementation.

And that was only Day One.

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