Innovative Planning, Level Two: Understanding Your Leadership Style. The purpose of this project is to identify my primary leadership style or styles. I completed a quiz and considered how my leadership style impacts the people around me and how I can adjust it to more effectively lead people with styles different from my own. I then delivered a speech on a specific aspect of my leadership style or leadership styles in general.
Good afternoon, fellow Toastmasters. Today I’m here to talk about leadership styles — specifically my own.
I was very excited to start this project, because it meant taking a quiz. It shouldn’t surprise anyone in this room to learn that I’m an enormous Type A nerd who loves taking quizzes — everything from e-learnings at work to those Buzzfeed quizzes that are like, “Which Disney princess are you?”
Quizzes can be fun, but they’re also a little dangerous. They can tell you stuff you’re not ready to hear. Sometimes it’s that your Disney princess is Snow White, and sometimes…it’s that you’re “Bureaucratic.”
I wanna say that as a person with anxiety, I’m well aware of most of my flaws. I know where my leadership skills are lacking — it just kind of sucked for me to see it in black and white.
Let’s take a look at this description. To me these things — “stringently establishes and enforces rules,” “demand immediate compliance” — this person’s a jerk.
I don’t wanna work for this person. I definitely don’t wanna be this person, especially as a leader or boss. Seeing these results brought up a lot of bad memories from previous jobs, as well as the things I’ve always seen in and disliked about myself. It reinforced for me the sinking feeling that I’d be a bad manager. That means I can only climb the corporate ladder so far, can only earn so much, can only be so valuable to my company.
This all put me into what I call “a mood.” My husband noticed this immediately, because he always does, and pried out of me that I’m obviously a total monster who should never be allowed around people.
When I finally let him look at the results, the first thing he noticed wasn’t my main leadership style, but the fact that the top four scores are within just a few points of each other.
So yes, I’m Bureaucratic, but I’m also Democratic, Pacesetting, and Authoritative. This means I’m capable of doing things like “motivating by providing opportunities for participation,” that I “set high standards of performance and lead by example,” and that I’m good at “giving clear direction and setting standards.”
One of the many cool things about being human is that I’m capable of change. If I don’t like my Bureaucratic tendencies I can figure out ways to strengthen my other skills.
While brainstorming ways I could do this, I realized I kind of already am.
This year I’m Vice Chair of the MORE Committee, a group of about 35 employees who volunteer their time to plan and host events that improve the employee experience at my company.
Helping lead this group means I can do things like hone my Democratic skills by encouraging people to suggest ideas and spearhead projects, and flex my Authoritative muscles by giving clear directions and setting standards.
I’m also trying to make peace with my Bureaucratic style by tackling projects that help me channel those tendencies in beneficial, rather than harmful, ways.
For example, my company recently gave my team the chance to conduct a Ride Along program. This program gives employees from other teams — most often frontline advisors from our call center — the opportunity to do extended shadowing and hands-on work with a team they want to know more about.
Coordinating the Ride Along meant putting together agendas, slide decks, and task lists that give participants a solid idea of what life in my role is like. It’s a regimented program that must follow certain rules — and Bureaucrats are really good at rules.
Confronting these less-than-ideal aspects of myself isn’t fun, but it’s the only way I know to become a better employee, leader, and person. Plus it gives me opportunities to be flexible, learn new things, and hopefully serve as a good example for those around me. As John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Thank you.