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August 2009

Leadership and DISC: Who IS the best?

People come in many shapes, sizes and personalities. Because we are all different, we tend to compare ourselves to others. However, the danger in making comparisons is that we often fail to notice our own giftedness, choosing instead to focus on the areas where we fall short of someone else's skill set.

There is no such thing as one best, all-purpose leadershp style. The best leaders are those who understand what their specific situation calls for to be successful and either adapt accordingly or recruit other qualified individuals to supplement their skills. I help my clients learn how to adapt better by encouraging them to "try on" other behavior styles and helping to identify areas of there work they can delegate.

According to Allesandra and O'Connor's PeopleSmart, four basic leadership styles correspond to the four core behavior styles in the DISC assessment.

  • Direction of others through dominance/directness (D)
  • Interaction with others (I)
  • Service to the goals of others (S)
  • Self-direction through compliance (C)

From these descriptions can you identify your primary style? Chances are, you are a blend of one or more of the above. Can you imagine a work or life situation where each one of these styles might work the best or not at all?

The most important thing to remember is that we are all different and uniquely gifted to carry out the "job" we are born to do. We will all lead in our own way. Get to know yourself better. Being coached through an assessment process is one way to do this. Then, seek out activities or job roles where you can spend the most time where you excel so you can be the best YOU!

What are your thoughts as to the best leadership style? In what ways have you adapted successfully to be more effective? What will you do with what you've learned?

DISC Styles: Are you a Tortoise or a Hare?

How fast do you like to go? Do you like to sprint, jog, or walk through life? Today we will take a look at two opposite personalities on the DISC behavioral model, the "D" and the "S", and provide some tips for peaceful interaction between the two. We'll be examining each as they resemble the characters in the familiar tale "The Tortoise and the Hare".

Let's first look at Mr. Hare, whom I'm likening to the Dominant Director "D". If you are a hare, you are ambitious, forceful, decisive and direct. You love to win and can't wait to get to the finish line! Your independent and competitive nature helps you to run with no fear.

On the other hand, Mr. Tortoise, the Steady Relator "S", is methodical, systematic, reliable and steady. He is modest and relaxed, sometimes hiding in his shell. Winning is not that important, as long as he finishes...and the team gets along with each other.

Can you see the contrast? As with any two different personality styles, communication challenges abound between these particular two. Here are some tips for dealing with each that I share with my coaching clients, no matter who you are:

Mr. Hare (D) likes you to:

  • Pick up the pace
  • Be clear, specific and to the point
  • Stick to business and be organized

Mr. Tortoise (S) likes you to:

  • Begin with a personal comment to break the ice
  • Slow down, take it easy
  • Present your case softly with nonthreatening tone

When we know ourselves for who we really are (how others see us) and can recognize others and appreciate them for who they are, we can greatly increase communication and understanding. Great leaders are people experts!

Experiment this week. Look for the tortoises and hares in your life (chances are you are married to your opposite!) and adapt to fit their needs. Everyone will benefit!

Readers, what do you think? How have you been able to apply these things? Click the comment link below and let us know!

Living Through Uncertainty

We all face uncertainty in varying ways and degrees at some point in our lives. We can't go through life unscathed by it, but we can set ourselves apart from the crowd by how we manage things through it.

How do you react when your carefully thought out plans go awry, leaving you in the mire of uncertainty? Even though the economic outlook isn't as dismal as it was last October, many of us are still feeling the stress of uncertainty as we wade through more news of lost jobs and lost retirement funds, wondering what is on the horizon for tomorrow. Many of us still know of someone facing the possibility of losing their home.

Following are some strategies to consider when uncertainty crosses your path:

  • Redefine your definition of success. Do your current goals contain "excess" that could be eliminated and still leave you with a favorable outcome?
  • Reassess your current situation. Define your current reality so you can move forward with accurate information.
  • Realign your priorities based upon your new assessment. In other words, craft a workable "Plan B".
  • Remember the "big picture". Sometimes when framed objectively against a bigger reality, things don't appear as bad as they first seam.

Most importantly, don't forget that each new moment of our lives provides the opportunity to positively affect our future. What will you do with each moment?

The Power of Planning

Time management experts claim that for every 1 minute of planning we save 10 minutes in execution. That means if we only spent 12 minutes each day planning our days, we would save two hours in wasted time per day. How much planning do you do? Do you plan your days, weeks, months or years?

Thinking about planning and efficiency brings to mind my experiences when I visit a new health club without a plan. I become quickly intimidated by all of the equipment, piddle around on some machines, wander around the rest of the time and leave early because of my frustration. In this case, much mental anguish and wasted time would have been eliminated with a premeditated plan of attack!

When we lay down a track to run on through adequate planning, we can sprint through our tasks rather than wander around in them. Thoughtful planning creates confidence and efficiency. Planning facilitates progress.

My challenge to you is to spend some time this month to plan your upcoming week and your individual days. Create a list of things to be done. Scrutinize your list by asking yourself how each item on your list fits into your long-term plans. Work from your list and stay on task! Then, notice how much time you save!

What ways do you use to plan and manage your time? You may already know by now that I'm a GTD "groupee".  Let me know by clicking comments below what works for you and also what results you get from my challenge.

Happy planning!

Dealing With Challenging Leadership

Newsflash. Not everyone in leadership or management is competent. I'm sure this isn't surprising to most of you.  Most of us have worked or volunteered under incompetent leadership at one time or another. The biggest quandary when in such a situation is how to cope with with it.

Dan McCarthy at his blog Great Leadership discusses this issue in his post "Is Your Manager 'Crazy'" and gives us three options:

  1. Do what you can to make the situation better.
  2. Go to the manager's manager, HR, or seek outside representation
  3. Get out. Find another job.

His advice parallels some principles I've always learned when in such a situation. I'm adding a couple more options.

    4. Stay and do nothing but stop complaining since you are unwilling to take action.    
    5. Find a great physical activity to relieve stress. You will need the outlet.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Would you care to add to the list? If so, please add them by making a comment to this post.

Identifying Attitudes

Leadership and all relationships would be so much easier if we took the time to truly understand one another. Verbal communication is a key component of understanding, but if two people are speaking different languages, words are simply not enough. The most effective communication occurs when both parties are diligent to understand the other's point of view.

One method to achieving better communication is to learn what motivates someone else to do the things that they do. When we can understand the "why", we are on our way to seeing people as merely different from us, rather than flawed.

According to Eduard Spranger, there are six basic attitudes (motivators) in people. Each attitude and corresponding goal description is listed below:

  1. Theoretical: Discovery of truth and knowledge.
  2. Utilitarian: Utility and what is useful.
  3. Aesthetic: Self-actualization.
  4. Social: To eliminate hate and conflict in the world.
  5. Individualistic: To assert self and have a personal cause victorious.
  6. Traditional: To search for and find the highest value in life.

Do you know your own attitude or those of the people in your life or work team? Can you see how each attitude might interact with the other? Ask someone you know today if they enjoy what they do for a living and why they enjoy it. You'll learn a lot about their attitude and gain insight as to how to relate to them better.

For more information regarding our attitudes or motivators, click here.

Get Things Done: The Art of Efficiency

"This constant unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy."-Kerry Gleeson

Even the most outwardly neat individuals may still have cluttered minds. That's because most people haven't mastered how to consistently capture all of the incomplete items in their lives and plan how to handle them. How consistently organized are your thoughts? What system do you have for managing all you do?

In his book, "Getting Things Done", personal productivity guru David Allen stresses that "only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential." Clear minds allow us to focus completely on the task at hand and execute it with the utmost efficiency.  Personally, I love David's process, affectionately referred to as GTD by those who employ his methods.  It makes sense and is a system that can be used in any organization (including your home) with any or even no technology.

David Allen teaches the following core process for mastering workflow in any context, home or office:

  1. Collect the "stuff" that represents your "to do's"
  2. Process what you collect
  3. Organize results of processing
  4. Review results as options "to do"
  5. Do.

When completely integrated, this process alleviates stress because everything is in its place, even our thoughts. The process helps us to be better and more creative leaders. Both me and my clients agree. What is your favorite efficiency technique or system? I'd love to hear from you.

Now, are you ready for some homework?  Here's an assignment for those of you daring enough to take the leap into stress free productivity:

Throughout your day, be aware of how many times you think of something you need to do but still haven't done. How many times did you have that same thought in your day? How much energy is that thought costing you? What will you do about it?


Did You Know? Video: Rapid Change Calls for Leadership

Times have changed in the realm of management since the advent of computer technology. In the old days,we had managers who taught people what to do. Now, because what needs "doing" changes in the blink of an eye, it is imperative that we become leaders and start teaching people how to think.

The following five minute video, "Did You Know?" brings our fast-paced world to light. To quote some of the stats in the video, did you know?

  • The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
  • We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.
  • It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • It is estimated that 4 exabytes (4.0x10^19) of unique information will be generated this year. That is more than the previous 5000 years.

After you watch the video, I'd love to know what you think.  The video and its music alone is sure to get your heart pounding.  Then, you can think about all of that information and its impact on your world.

Management is obsolete. Leadership is necessity. How are you preparing to lead? How do you handle all of the information coming at you? What will you do with what you know?

Values, Time and Energy

168 hours are in a week. Nor more, no less. That's all the time any of us have each week to work, play, eat, sleep and interact with others. How do you determine how you spend your time? Is the way you spend your time draining or energizing to you?

A few days ago I discussed the importance of core values, those 3-5 beliefs that are our "habits of the heart", and provided a tool to help you determine your values. Core values are foundational to making the most out of a 168 hour week.

Once you know your core values, it is time to assess how well you are living them out each day at work or at home. I challenge you this week to:

  1. Pick one core value and create a goal that will allow you to measure and observe how well you demonstrate this value by acting on it.
  2. Identify what, if anything is standing in your way of living that value and design a way to remove the obstacle.
  3. Commit to reaching your goal!

Then...let me know how you did you on your "assignment".  I'd love to hear about your progress and what you discover about yourself.  Learn to make the most of each day, it will be worth the effort.