Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Leadership Development 1

1.  Define consensus and collaboration in your own words, give an example of how each can be applied in a grove setting, and explain which you prefer and why. (min. 250 words)
Consensus is a process for decision making within a group.  In this process, participants are given the opportunity to voice and discuss their opinion on the situation at hand. These group discussions are intended to create a resolution that best meets the needs and/or desires of the group. The focus of consensus is to allow the group to work together to move forward in doing what is best for their common interest and not necessarily what is best for individual members.  
Consensus is used in our grove in many circumstances.  For example, each High Day we choose a different hearth culture to honor.  In this process, we frequently have discussions about each hearth culture and the way they could be honored for that day.  We also discuss how recently we have honored that hearth culture to make sure we are providing diversity to our members.  At that point, we try to come to a consensus of which hearth culture or being of occasion would be most appropriate.  Our grove is still relatively small, so this process works well for us at this time.  However, I can see how this would be a much greater challenge for a large grove to accomplish. 

Collaboration is the process of multiple people working together to achieve a common goal.  In this process, each person puts some level of work into the project in order to complete the final project.
We also utilize collaboration within our grove regularly.  Frequently, multiple people will collaborate on the creation of our grove rituals.  Each person will be assigned a different task, such as reviewing the ritual for consistency or writing selected portions of the rite, or doing research on the being of occasion to make the ritual as accurate as possible.  This allows for multiple people to feel involved with the ritual while also making the idea of creating a ritual less daunting by breaking it into smaller responsibilities.
            Overall, I believe that consensus and collaboration are vitally important to a newer grove in order to make everyone feel important and involved in the different processes of the grove.  However, I personally prefer collaboration and working with people to create the best thing possible.  It’s interesting to see different perspectives on things and to combine those into one amazing thing for the group. Also, I believe that consensus could be problematic as the grove continues to grow.

2.  Describe the following traits of leadership a) Direct, b) Indirect, c) Reserved, d) Outgoing, e) Urgent, f) Steady, g) Unstructured, h) Precise. Describe the types which best fit you. (minimum 100 words for each trait, and 100 words for the self-description)
            Direct is one of the influencing traits, which describes how you express your thoughts and assert yourself in social situations.  Someone who has a direct influence trait will often be very assertive and will present themselves with surety.  These people have blunt and honest communication style.  This can across as self-assured, but it can also be perceived as forceful at times.  Direct people prefer to confront conflicts head on without a lot of procrastination or “beating around the bush.”  They tend to be comfortable taking charge of situations to get them under control.  They are also comfortable getting issues out in the open in order to resolve them (Handley).   

While some people are direct in their influence of people, others take a more indirect route in their communications.  Someone who is indirect uses diplomacy when trying to impact others and tries to make a strategic plan to make a discussion effective.  They are good at mediating discussions between people and staying neutral in this process.  They also communicate with others in a way that is very careful and modest, which prevents other people from being offended by their words. People who are indirect try to be supportive and approachable to others.  They also prefer to work through disagreements with negotiation instead of spending time debating (Handley).
Reserved is a trait that describes how someone responds to social situations.  People who are reserved are often quiet in a group setting and are often uncomfortable reaching out to others for a first social contact.  Reserved people are most comfortable interacting with people one on one instead of in large groups.  These people are often seen as introverts and gain energy when they are alone or away from activity. When someone who is reserved does choose to communicate with others, their communication style is not very expressive and often incorporates few gestures and minimal facial expression.  People who are reserved also regularly keep their emotions to themselves and try to work through problems on their own (Handley)
Outgoing people are the opposite of those who are reserved.  They enjoy social interactions and will go out of their way to initiate communication with others.  Outgoing people are expressive and talkative, and frequently enjoy interacting with people both one on one and in and group settings.  They have no issues sharing their feelings with other people and are often comfortable talking through problems with others as well. Outgoing people are very expressive in their communication style and use facial expression or large gestures to share their messages with others.  They are excellent at meeting new people and putting others at ease, even in awkward situations (Handley)
            Urgency is a trait that describes the pace in which people react different circumstances. People who are urgent take action and make decisions very quickly without much deliberation. They choose review a limited number of important options before committing to a direction.  Urgent people are comfortable initiating change if they think it’s beneficial and have no issue moving forward in those transformations. They also prefer short-termed projects over something that may stretch over a long period of time.  People who react with an urgent pace tend to react quickly to circumstances, but are also quick to react if they are frustrated or angry (Handley).
            Steady is the pace trait opposite of urgency.  Steady people tend to spend a lot of time debating and deliberating before making decisions in order to make sure they’ve reviewed all available options.  They consider many different options and alternatives before determining which option is the best path to take.  People who are steady prefer long-term projects that require extended work over short projects with frequent changes. They tend react slowly when angered or frustrated, thinking through their responses before trying to resolve the situation.  Steady people are good at staying open-minded in situations and are often very patient when considering other alternative options (Handley).  

            Organizational skills vary greatly from person to people.  Some people prefer to keep things as unstructured as possible. Someone who is unstructured enjoys flexibility and diversity in their life.  They are comfortable with procrastination and postponing actions or events.  Unstructured people may use unconventional methods to complete tasks.  They like to keep their schedule open and unpredictable with time for spontaneity and freedom to make changes.  Unstructured people also take pride in doing new things in new ways.  These people are very innovative and are good at working around disorganization.  They are also capable of working in situations that may bother other people, such as a disorganized or chaotic environment (Handley).
            Other people prefer to be much more precise in their organizational skills.  Precise people strive to have their time as structured and organized. They also prefer to have defined plans with less spontaneity and more predictability.  People who are precise appreciate organized details and establish procedures to accomplish the tasks that they need to be doing. They also take pride in doing things in traditional ways that have “always” worked.  Precise people can be frustrated by a lack of specific direction and dislike chaotic or unstructured environments.  They are good at organizing and bringing structure to situations.  Precise people are also good at seeing ways to improve systems and policies to make things work more smoothly (Handley)

            Defining myself in these terms has been more of a challenge than I initially anticipated.  When it comes to influencing, I do believe I am on the more direct side of the spectrum.  I am willing to voice my opinion and take charge of situations that need a direction.  I also have learned to confront conflicts head-on in order to try to resolve them.  My response style is in the middle of reserved and outgoing.  There are situations that I enjoy interacting with groups, and I use a lot of facial expression and gesture when I communicate.  However, I am also typically very uncomfortable meeting new people and take a while to get comfortable enough to be outgoing.  I value my personal time to re-energize myself from social situations.  My pacing is definitely urgent.  I try to respond to things quickly and often feel guilty if I can’t respond immediately. I enjoy short-termed projects.  However, I also react quickly when angry or frustrated, so I try to be aware of that.   My organizational skills are very precise.  I enjoy organized environments and am comfortable making procedures and processes.  It’s interesting to see where I fall on each of these spectrums.

3.  Define the seven primary skills of leadership (structure, strategy, staff, style, systems, shared values, strengths/skills).   a) Identify the three skills that you are strongest in. b) Identify the three you are the weakest in and explain how you plan to improve these skills (min. 400 words describing improvement outlined in section "b" of this question)
            The seven primary skills of leadership as defined by the McKinsey 7-S Framework are: structure, strategy, staff, style, systems, shared values, and skills (Mind Tools Ltd.).  These will be explained below. 
·      Structure is the way an organization is structured, including the hierarchy and organizational knowledge.
·      Strategy is the plan or vision of the organization.  Strategy also includes strategic goals for the organization.
·      Staff are the team members of an organization and the skills they may have.
·      Style describes the leadership style that an organization adopts and the environment that they have because of it.
·      Systems are the daily procedures and tasks that each staff member performs to keep the organization functioning.
·      Shared values are the core values that an organization has as displayed through the culture and work ethic.
·      Skills are the competencies of each member of staff within an organization (Mind Tools Ltd.)
 Three Strengths
             I believe the three traits of leadership that I am the strongest in are structure, strategy, and shared values.  Strategically, I am good at setting goals and planning for the future.  I also appreciate when those goals are aligned with the vision of the organization, and try to maintain that alignment as often as possible.  I also function well within an established structure, identifying and following the hierarchy as needed to maintain responsibility and accountability.  I like knowing who is responsible for what tasks, and where that task should be escalated if it is not completed.  I also share many values with the organizations I am a part of and appreciate the core values and beliefs of the organization.
Three Weaknesses
            I find that the three traits that I believe I have room to improve upon are systems, style, and skills.   Systems are the daily procedures people are responsible for in order to keep the organization functioning as well as possible.  I have already started trying to improve this area by helping to establish written procedures and processes.  I was a part of the committee that recently developed the Regional Druid Handbook to establish a clear set of procedures and expectations for Regional Druids.  Prior to this document there were no clear standards or expectations for Regional Druids to perform, so the experiences between them varied greatly.  I have held the position of Central Regional Druid for the past four years, so creating a set of standard operating procedures to follow will be incredibly helpful for me, while also benefiting future Regional Druids.  There are many other areas that I believe could use this same type of position-specific procedures, and I hope to be able to continue working on these documents to improve our overall system.
            My leadership style is something that I have been working to develop and improve steadily as I continue building my experience within ADF.  In general, I am comfortable with my current leadership style, but I also know there are areas upon which I can improve.  For example, I currently find myself awkward and uncomfortable in situations where I have to meet new people.  I’ve continued to push past this initial discomfort to try to be more outgoing and social in those types of situations.  I do this by being active both in my local community and in larger events, introducing myself to new people, and trying to maintain connections with those people that I meet to the best of my abilities.  It requires me to leave my comfort zone, but I think it’s a good thing to adjust.  I also aware that my instinct is to be too urgent in my responses at times if I am angry or upset, so I work to be aware of that reflex and pace my decisions when I feel emotionally invested in order to have a more beneficial leadership style.
            The final area that I want to continue improving are my skills.  While I think that I have built a strong standard set of skills, I know that there is always room for improvement. I plan to continue working through the many study programs ADF has to offer to build these skills.  I am currently working through the second circle of the Clergy Training Program and Liturgists Guild study program as well as the Initiate’s Program, and the study programs of the Magician, Seer, Bardic, and Brewers Guild.  I know that each study program has skills to teach me, and I want to progress through them to improve who I am, both as a person and as a leader.
4.  Define the stages of burnout. Identify how you can utilize the strengths and skills of team members to avoid burnout in yourself and others. (minimum 200 words)
            According to Mark Gorkin, a licensed clinical social worker and motivational speaker, there are four primary stages of burnout.  These are: physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion; shame and doubt; cynicism and callousness; and failure, helplessness, and crisis (Gorkin).  Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion describes, exactly that: a person being overly tired on a physical, mental, and emotional level.  The person is exhausted and may end up cutting corners in order to get tasks completed with less effort.  The next stage of burnout is “shame and doubt”. People in this stage may lose confidence in their ability to complete tasks they’ve been assigned.  The third stage is “cynicism and callousness.”  In this stage, people have a pessimistic view of their current situation and may seem very abrasive in their interactions with others.  The final stage of burnout is “failure, helplessness, and crisis.”  This stage is often filled with feelings of powerlessness and letdown, leading the person to lose all faith in their ability to do the job they are assigned.  These stages can vary person to person, and the amount of time it takes to get to this point is not an exact science.  
            So how do we prevent people from feeling burnt out?  I think the easiest way to address this is to look at the different areas that may lead to burnout: workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values (Maslach and Leiter).   An imbalance in any one of these areas can lead to burnout, so maintaining balance is important.  Workload is something frequently discussed within ADF.  People have expressed concerned over leaders who have too much work to do or too many roles to fulfill.  However, I know some people thrive on maintaining multiple roles, so this is something only the individual can really control.  The most important thing that ADF can do is to provide sufficient resources for these people to help them perform their duties successfully. 
Control is another area that is very important to some people.  They appreciate being able to influence directions and have some power over their own situation. Utilizing tools like collaboration can help people feel heard and allow them to feel like they have an impact.  Reward is something that is more challenging to control in an organization like ADF.  Most of the positions we have are volunteer positions, so there isn’t monetary compensation available.  However, I think it’s important to acknowledge the good work that people are doing as often as possible and not focus only on areas where there are problems. Community can easily make someone feel joyful or burnt out.  If someone feels isolated or disrespected, they are going to be much less effective than if they feel like they are part of a team.  Finally, treating all people fairly and with the same values also gives us the opportunity to have a more favorable and inclusive environment for everyone. 
5.  Using the information you have learned in this course, what do you feel makes a person an effective leader in ADF? (min. 200 words)
            One of the things I appreciate most about the leadership in ADF is the diversity we see amongst those in leadership roles. There isn’t a cookie-cutter mold that out leaders can fit into, and I appreciate that. However, there are certain skills that definitely play a role in the effectiveness of our leadership.  The first thing that I think is very important is having strong organizational skills.  Requirements, such as quarterly reports, make the ability to track and organize communications and activities very important.  Additionally, our leadership needs to be able to function independently without a lot of guidance from others.  Unfortunately, many of our leadership positions don’t have a standard operating manual or strict guidelines as to what is expected.  Because of this, an effective leader needs to be able to work on their own and have the initiative to work in that type of environment.  They also need to have a firm understanding of the policies and vision of ADF to be able to act within those guidelines.
            Another trait that I think is vital within our leadership is strong communication skills and the ability to listen to others.  This is important in all organizations, but within ADF it is important for two large reasons. First, a lot of our organizational activity happens online, requiring the ability to interact in writing both to communicate with members and to work with other leaders.  Additionally, we are a religious organization and religion is something that people feel very strongly about so emotions are often high.  Leaders need to be able to communicate with others in a way that is respectful in order to prevent accidentally offending members.   They need to be willing to listen to members and other leaders while keeping an open mind, and need to have the ability to be non-judgmental in their responses.  This can be quite a challenge at times, but it is necessary for our membership to have positive interactions. 
            The final trait that I think is very important for our leaders to display is a sense of self awareness. It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses.  An effective leader should be able to recognize when they are able to resolve an issue, and when they are in a situation that they are not able to resolve in order to be able to ask for guidance and assistance from others when necessary. 

Works Cited

Gorkin, Mark. The Four Stages of Burnout. n.d. March 2016. <http://www.stressdoc.com/4stages.htm>.

Handley, Patrick. Insight Inventory. n.d. February 2016.

Maslach, Christina and Michael P Leiter. Reversing Burn Out. n.d. March 2016. <http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/business/06.BURNOUT.FINAL.pdf>.

Mind Tools Ltd. The McKinsey 7-S Framework. 2016. March 2016. <https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm>.

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