Friday, April 17, 2015

challenge the process; encourage the heart (AKA "tick people off nicely")

Recently I participated in a leadership seminar. Using the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), we took a survey, tallied results, enjoyed a very well-done presentation and discovered a few things about ourselves and others.

The presenter asserted that all are leaders, but that we have different leadership “styles.” I think it might be more accurate to say that some lead more than others, that some are quite content to sit in the back seat while someone else drives. No matter. Either way you look at it, it was an exploration of who we are and what makes us tick, and I dig that kind of thing.

I scored pretty much equally for two types of leading – two types that normally oppose one another. Well, that explains a lot! I’ve been pondering them lately and come to the conclusion that they are quite accurate and there is nothing wrong with exhibiting both sides of the leadership coin.
I scored big in “Encourage the Heart,” which means I am able to recognize and celebrate the contributions others make. I am someone who “makes people feel like heroes.” I hope this is true. I do try to look for the positive in others and to offer them true encouragement. However, my other style enables me to call people out if they are messed up. I scored equally high in “Challenge the Process.”

I’m willing to experiment and take risks. I’m willing to tell pretty much anyone if I disagree with him or her, and yes, I will die on that mountain. I don’t care too much if people like me. I want to do “what’s right” and I’m not afraid to speak up. (Well, sometimes I’m afraid, but I do it anyway, because I HAVE TO.) This part of my style explains why my father would say, “Cathy, you’d argue with the Good Lord!” and I’d answer, “Yes, but only if I was right!”

I found it interesting that the presenter portrayed the CTP personality negatively. (Also interesting that I was the only one in the group who had their highest score in that category.) He said that CTPers could come across as harsh and difficult. Come to think of it, ETHers didn’t sound so great to me either. It was as if all those types did was “have flowers on their desk” and “want to hug everyone.” Ugghhh.

He also said I was “fascinating” since I was a CTP and an ETH. (To which I answered, “I am!”)

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if gender stereotypes played a part in our understanding of leadership. As a CTPer I was reminded I needed to “watch my tone” when explaining why things weren’t working as best as I could. As a ETHer I needed to “stop being so emotional.” To me this sounds like typical reminders for women who try to play a “man’s” game (i.e. being a leader.)  
In one exercise “team” members were invited to comment on which type was their friend and/or foe. Guess which two types got the least love? Again, interesting.

So I’m here to do something typically CTP/ETC/Me:  I’m going to embrace who I am. I LOVE the idea of Challenging the Process when the process sucks. People like me  are the ones who incite much-needed change. We are willing to say what no one else has the nerve to say, to do what everyone else might want to do but is afraid to bring up. I’ll work on my “tone” but, oh what am I saying, the hell with my tone! My tone is fine. I’m an ETCer too, remember. I’m always starting with the positive and trying to make others feel good about themselves. I’m encouraging and I love to recognize others’ accomplishments.

Any way you look at it, the LPI is pretty interesting stuff. You can find some info about the five “practices of exemplary leadership” here. (Of course the best leaders combine qualities from all five “types,” which include Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.) Which one(s) resonate most with you? 

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