Leadership is Like Lasagne

This week, I took a three-day leadership class, that I found both interesting and annoying.  I took the class with about 20 strangers from my company.

Before class, we all took a DISC profile test (and had our co-workers and friends fill it out on our behalf as well) and we spent the first day talking about our own behavioral styles and how to interact with people who have different styles.

I am an “Sc” (Primary S, secondary C).  those who know me will be shocked (sarcasm) to know that I am steady, stable, quiet, consistent, service-oriented, concerned with people, contentious, and cautious.  No surprises there.

It was helpful to get validation from my DISC report that I get very stressed when things are constantly changing and that my bosses behavioral type makes very quick decisions without thinking them through (which I can tell you from experience, results in a lot of changes since they are not all fabulous decisions, although some are!).  Now it is written on paper why my life has been so stressful for the past six months.

The second part of the class talked about development levels and what leadership style one should use with each level.  This also stressed me out when it reminded me that all of the people I have on my team (three of whom were added in the past two weeks) are at development level 1 in most of their current tasks which means they need a highly directive style.   I am excellent at providing direction, but it takes a lot of time.  Sigh.

Luckily, amidst my stressful observations, there was humor.  Our instructor (who I like to call Gus because he just seemed like a Gus) was pretty hilarious.  He told great stories to illustrate development levels.  He told us that “leadership is like lasagne” because it has a lot of layers.  He also gave us a long play-by-play of how Daniel progressed through the development styles in the Karate Kid and how Mr. Miyagi applied the appropriate leadership style at each phase.  Enthusiastic beginners need a lot of “wax on, wax off!”

There was a bit much group work for my taste (of course, as an introvert).  Did I really have to work in a team to come up with a logo and theme song for developmental level 3?  (FYI –  D3’s are very capable but lack confidence so they need a lot of support and encouragement.  Our logo was “The Little Engine that Could” and our theme song was “High Hopes”, about the ant that was trying to move the rubber tree plant.)  OK, I guess it was kind of fun.  But every time Gus said “work with your table teams to…” I rolled my eyes (internally) and wished I could just do it by myself.  (This was the annoying part)

Overall the class was pretty good.  We got lots of worksheets and charts to add structure to apply what we have learned.  Love structure!  We re-group in September for Part 2 where we will reflect on how we have used what we learned in Part 1 and delve in to working in teams.  I think Part 2 is a GREAT idea. Between now and then I have some homework and a free coaching session, and I will be mentally psyching myself up for more corny team exercises.  Woo Hoo!

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