by Mette Dam, Denmark, ELP 2015
Written on July 17, 2015.
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending three days together with Susan Carpenter. This was not just a pleasure because of Susan Carpenter’s delightful personality, but just as much due to the interesting program about collaborative leadership for sustainable change she had planned for us. We discussed what a good leader is made of and what kind of challenges a collaborative leader can meet and how to address them.
During the three days Susan Carpenter introduced us to a lot of different things and subjects we, as environmental leaders, need to address and take into account in our daily work. I especially enjoyed the session about different personalities and how to get the best out of it.
We started out by taking a personality test, showing that all people can be divided into 16 groups and 4 overall groups and how this also relates to our professional behavior. The division was based on, among others: the preference to either include details and facts in their work or to simply work with the overall picture and how they feel about deadlines.
By using the personality test as an example, Susan started a debate about how important it is to be aware that people differ and get motivated by different things. A good leader should know how to get the best out of each colleague.
It turned out that I am an idealist, which is a relative rare type as only 15 to 20 percent of the population is in this category. Idealists are described as people who always strive to discover who they are and how they can become the best possible self. Moreover, we like to focus more on what might be rather than what is, paying more attention to the overall picture instead of the details. Another important thing about the idealists is that we value relationships with other people high and we further believe that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals.
I really like to take these kind of tests and I was not surprised by the result as I get bored when I have to work with too many details; instead I prefer to work with the overall picture. What really drives me is to look for opportunities where I can develop my skills and become even better. However I do not believe that this is some kind of whole truth and that it actually is possible to divide people into certain groups.
However I still think this knowledge will be an effective tool for me in my further work, as I will pay more attention to the fact that everyone is not like me and I need to be more aware that we have different preferences and react differently. This simple test really showed the importance of knowing your colleagues and other people you interact with, in your professional career, and be aware of differences in preferences and how to appreciate and motivate them.
After the workshop with Susan Carpenter, I started to notice that our speakers fall into two overall groups: those who clarify their points by using a lot of detailed data and those who make the presentation way more personalized by constantly sharing their own experiences and stories in relation to the topics. I prefer the last one while one of my friends prefers the first approach. We can barely agree on which speaker did best. I have to remember this and incorporate way more data and details into my presentation in order to meet different types of people.