2018-2019 Session 1: Working Together

 

Date: October 5, 2018

Location: Kirksey Architecture

Led by: Altair Galgana-Wood, Sam McGlone

Session Sponsors: Pinnacle Structural Engineers

Location Sponsor: Kirksey Architecture

 

Overview

Organized by Altair Galgana-Wood and Sam McGlone, this opening session of the Christopher Kelley program addressed the most fundamental part of leadership: “working together” with those you lead. This session featured two speakers and one practical activity, allowing participants to both learn and apply lessons directly. Beginning the week before with each participant taking a DISC personality assessment, Alyse Makarewicz shared the class’ results mapped on the 2-axis DISC graph in relation to each other. Following, participants broke into teams of four for a “Write It, Do It” communication activity using text, voice, and sketch instructions to rebuild a Tinkertoy object accurately without direct observation. Finally, leader and entrepreneur David Steitz explored the value and use of 360 Degree Assessments in soliciting and understanding feedback and opportunities for personal growth.  

Presentation 1: Alyse Makarewicz

Beginning the session, guest presenter Alyse Makarewicz identified the strengths of each individual participant in the session based on their recent DISC assessment prior to the class. Alyse, the president of her own small firm, shared how her knowledge of the DISC profiles and personalities helps her identify best fits for new hiring, facilitates better communicate with her team and with her business partner, as well as promotes effective information for clients.

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Each quadrant in the DISC personality assessment corresponds to one of four letters: D, I, S, and C – which coincide to a list of traits and strengths. The assessment organizes traits by two main axes: “People-Oriented / Task-Oriented” and “Reserved / Outgoing”. The general terms associated with these four quadrants are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Supportive (S), and Compliance (C ). An individual, while often having representation in all four or a combination of these quadrants, generally has one dominant trait which helps identify their preferred approach to behavior, teamwork, and communication.

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Two versions of assessment results provided an “environmental style” and a “basic style” for each individual. The “environmental style”  indicates the behavioral style in which work and life circumstances asks or requires the subject to perform. The “basic style” reveals the subjects preference for communication and behavior in their natural state, as well as innate strengths.

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Participants were given colored stickers for their name tags and arranged in the four corners of the room based on their dominant trait. These results led to discussion on the best work environment for each personality type, effective ways to communicate expectations and identify strengths, and the best way to leverage strengths from teammates as well as in current positions.

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Activity: Write It, Do It

As a communication exercise, participants divide into teams of four, with two of each team taken to another room. One pair of team members were given a completed model made of tinker toys and the other pair of team member were given individual tinker toy parts. The two participants with the complete model direct their remote teammates solely through either texts, verbal descriptions through phone calls, hand sketches sent by couriers, or digital sketches using Bluebeam on a computer screen in an attempt to replicate the model from individual parts. After each team felt satisfied with their construction, the pre-assembled toy and the toy produced from remote instructions were brought together and compared. The CKLDP group analyzed the end-result for accuracy, as well as identify the success and failure of each method of communication.

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Teams found that many unexpected issues arose, including non-matching parts and miscommunication; creating a common vocabulary for toy parts that resembled real-world things, such as “spatula” or “quarter cheese wheel”; and specifying model or connection orientation such as “perpendicular” or “align”. One key observation was the success of strategizing before diving in, rather than solely relying on situational communication and leadership ability to resolve issues.  

Session 2: Dave Steitz

The afternoon wrapped up with an engaging discussion about 360 Degree Assessments, including typical uses and best practices; and differing perceptions and responses to representative questions within the CKLDP group. Dave Steitz, coming from a business and entrepreneurship background, offered plenty of perspective as a business leadership consultant. He highlighted the importance of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, as a factor that could be developed and learned, while IQ (cognitive intelligence) is fixed. Developing Emotional intelligence involves a continuous, connected process of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Self-awareness, and Relationship Management.

Dave promotes structure to think about leadership and professional development, insisting that change requires measurable goals which allow analysis. The 360 Assessments accumulates information on an individual by asking interval scale questions of that individual, their manager, their peers, and direct reports. The review process includes several questions in each of nine broad categories:

 

  • Ensuring long-term results
  • Leading others
  • Building strong teams
  • Managing outcomes
  • Delegating to others
  • Developing others
  • Making decisions
  • Dealing with conflicting ideas
  • Personal and professional growth.

 

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Dave went through a number of the questions with the group, asking the participants how they would rate themselves at certain tasks, demeanor or opinions relating to the categories above. For example, on a rating of 1 to 5, with 5 being always and 1 being never, do you “Establish timelines and measurable outcomes for initiatives”? We went around the group and rated ourselves. Then Dave asked participants to consider the viewpoint of a manager or direct report. By comparing outside perspectives, these assessments provide a more complete picture of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Answering these assessment questions as a group allowed CKLDP participants to become more aware of their own perceptions, possibly mis-perceptions, and emotional triggers, as well as differing perspectives. Some responses had a wide spread, particularly on a self-assessment of communication and delegation ability. The most intense discussion came in response to the sample question “Monitors progress regularly” and particularly the term “monitor”, signalling a discomfort with the connotation of mistrust, while others criticized the general apathy of mentors to properly oversee and communicate expectations to junior staff in an industry where on-the-job-training is a requirement for licensure, but can often be poorly managed. Other issues that were discussed include healthy and unhealthy conflict; recognizing vague or non-measurable feedback as ineffective; and encouraging the use of positive feedback.

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The assessment and leaderships strategies covered in this first session are fundamental in “Working Together” and an insightful start to the CKLDP curriculum. This information enables leaders to better understand one another, learn particular strengths, and discuss experiences of fellow classmates. Additionally, the assessment and communication tools gained over the course of the session provides a base from which to launch a more thorough self-development and farther reaching career plan, hopefully benefiting each individual and the profession as a whole.

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