Sunday, June 6, 2010

What Is Leadership...?

A few years ago at work we took the psychological test DISC, to see which category we fell into. It was part of a team-building exercise, and much to my amazement, I came up a strong "D". It did explain a lot of things, however, that I had not been aware of before -- such as why I sometimes appear to be somewhat bossy assertive. The DISC refers to the following four tendencies.

Dominance – relating to control, power and assertiveness. People who score high in the intensity of the "D" styles factor are very active in dealing with problems and challenges.
Influence – relating to social situations and communication. People with high "I" scores influence others through talking and activity and tend to be emotional. They are described as convincing, magnetic, political, enthusiastic, persuasive, warm, demonstrative, trusting, and optimistic.
Steadiness – relating to patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness. People with high "S" styles scores want a steady pace, security, and do not like sudden change. High "S" individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced.
Conscientiousness – relating to structure and organization.People with high "C" styles adhere to rules, regulations, and structure. They like to do quality work and do it right the first time. High "C" people are careful, cautious, exacting, neat, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful.

Behind my treehouse, we have five beautiful cherry trees at the back of our property. A few years ago one of the residents of the building decided she didn't like the cherry trees and convinced the strata council to have them removed. When I read in the minutes of the meeting that an arborist had been hired to chop down the trees, I was in shock. How could they pass such a motion? It made no sense. I lost sleep over it, and I was heartstick. Couldn't it be stopped? No, no, no, the motion was carried, and that's it. Was anyone else upset? Oh, yes, everyone in the building. But no one was doing anything about it. On the morning the arborist was due to chop down the trees, I managed to contact him by telephone. He was in his truck, in his driveway, just on his way to cut the beautiful cherry trees down. I told him if he stepped one foot on our property to chop the trees down, I would have a television crew from BCTV here to film it. He drove his truck back into his garage and the trees were saved. For a week afterwards, I was receiving telephone calls from my neighbors, thanking me. The council members said they passed the motion after a long meeting, and they were tired and their judgment was clouded. The trees have lived to bloom for many more years since then.

One year, in November, a couple of residents in our building noticed cockroaches in their suites, and I saw some crawling over the newspapers in the front lobby. *g-a-s-p* No one knows how they got here, but they were here. The strata council was contacted, and a suggestion was made that a pest control company should come in to get rid of the nasty little creatures. The council, in their wisdom, said they would put it on the agenda for the next council meeting the following January. I said, "Well, you had better invite the cockroaches as well, because by then they will have taken over." Still, no one wanted to do anything, so I called a pest control company and invited them over. They found the little b*ggers in the garage, in the lobby and in several suites in the building. And they also said that for every one they found, several more were hiding, usually along the plumbing lines. Oh, lovely. The pest control company said it was a good thing we hadn't waited any longer. The building was immediately fumigated and the horrid little insects were eradicated. We now have an ongoing service contract with the pest control company, and no more cockroaches. Again, I had people thanking me -- for ages afterwards.

I could never belong to a cult, or even serve on a committee. Following along behind other people is very difficult for me. It wasn't until I took the DISC psychological test that I understood why. We are all different. It has taken me a long time to learn to live with my personality. Even in my work environment, people come to me to make decisions that are not mine to make. But sometimes a decision -- any decision -- is better than no decision at all. Often I am able to "cut away the dead wood" as my mother used to say, and see a situation clearly. I'm also able to see the nonsense. My closest co-worker is a "C" on the DISC spectrum, and as a result, we work fairly well together. Ideally, I would like to be an "I" on the spectrum. They are probably the "nicest" and the most popular with other folks.

My friend Lulu and I were having a conversation about this today, and she said she could not see me as anything but a "D", but that is the very reason she likes me. She said even when we lived in separate ends of the country, I was the first person she came to for advice. Hmmmm... Interesting. We learn something about ourselves every day.

Being a good leader, I suppose, means having to make decisions that may perhaps not be popular, but may in the long run be the best for everyone. Fortunately, I have never had to be in that situation -- well, except for the trees and the cockroaches. Oh, and then there was that time... and then there was that other time...

16 comments:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Whatever letter applies, I'm so glad you were able to save the cherry trees. What stupidity to cut them down - even George Washington didn't really do that. They are such beautiful trees, blooming or in winter, even. I don't understand the kind of mentality that would deliberately remove beauty from the world.

Kathryn said...

Oh, Jo, you make me laugh. :)

I love hearing stories & how you are so decisive. I have such a hard time with conflict & also with making decisions for more people than just me. By not doing so, things often get so much worse before they get better.

I might not want to be entirely "D," but i do wish i were a bit more like you. :)

(Please forgive me for also plugging a friend's fairly new blog. She tells the most fun stories. She is a Christian, & so some of her stories are about that, but she also talks of her childhood in Hiroshima & traveling the world on a boat & of her animals & so much more. She is at http://jessicareynoldsshaverrenshaw.blogspot.com/)

Thanks. :)

Firefly said...

I think there are a couple fo people at work here that need to take that test and be reminded of their managerial status.

Paul C said...

I really like this overview of DISC and its applications in your experience. I wish I would have known this a few years ago to help understand certain people and their motivations. Perhaps consensus begins with understanding each others' strengths.

DJan said...

I thought of the Myers-Briggs test when I read this, which I've taken and found my "type" -- I'll see if I can find this one, but I admire the D in you, Jo. I think I am probably an I, because I am definitely not an S or a C... I am happy to hear that people like you take matters into your capable hands, the world is a better place for it!

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Too bad we don't have politicians who are in your category!

KrippledWarrior said...

I saw it right off.

But in the Navy we have a different definition for LEADERSHIP. In the Navy we would consider your definition to be Manager. Not Leader!
It's not bad. Just different!

TomCat said...

An interesting scale, that I have not see before. Thanks, Josie.

Zen Adventurist said...

I LOVE that saying...cut away the dead wood. Good way to think of it. And bravo for saving the cherry trees!!!!! Maybe someday, more will understand that trees are also a form of life deserving of kindness and respect.

Sam Liu said...

Fascinating post, I'd never heard of DISC before, but I think I'd register as a D. I admire that you get jobs done by working independently and with intuition. In groups, I always tend to become leader, and I am often the decisive figure. So, I think you and I are very similar in that respect :)

Marguerite said...

It's a good thing that someone in your building is a D! :) I am a blend of I and C, but occasionally can be a D type. Interesting post, as always, Jo!

Country Girl said...

My sister-in-law is a 'D' person, although I know of no test she's taken. The explanation alone of this type of person is her to a 'T'. For this reason, whenever I need practical advice, she's who I call first. I love her problem-solving skills. Good for you for being a 'D'.

PhilipH said...

Disc? Hard disc or floppy disc? I rate you as a Decidedly Decent and DeLovely Discovery in the blogosphere!

Whitney Lee said...

Interesting. I have to remind you that it takes all kinds...Most people who aren't as assertive as you struggle to find the gumption to do what needs to be done-trust me! Based on this description I am, without a doubt, an S. This did remind me of a story...

When I was in kindergarten my parents went in for a meeting. They sat down and asked, "Are things okay? We know Whitney can be bossy." The teacher replied, "Oh, no, we prefer to call it Leadership."

Brenda's Arizona said...

I'm with Russell. D means DECENT.
Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test? Our boss had us all take it at work. It was interesting, and probably true. But I didn't like my boss knowing my results!!!

Paula Slade said...

Congratulations on saving the trees and arresting the roach problem - thank goodness you are a D! I had never hear of this assessment - it's very interesting. Just reading the descriptions made me realize that my family represents all four letters. :)