Throughout the week at NELLS, we did a number of exercises and self-assessments. I have shared three of these below (PDF). They were all valuable exercises, in that they cause you to think deeply about your experiences, inclinations, and preferences; also, by examining how you work best, you can consider how others work best, how your styles might differ, and how to manage those differences to achieve a positive outcome.
Leadership self-assessment: This assessment tool helps identify areas of strength and areas for development*: the categories include communication, professional ethics, decision making, planning, solving problems, entrepreneurship, team building, coaching, leading change, motivation, empathy, social skills, self-awareness and regulation, and supervision. The questions, over four pages, are “I” statements, with a 1-5 scale from “seldom” to “frequently” for answers (e.g. “I explain ideas and concepts so all can understand”).
Conflict_management_style_assessment: This assessment tool consists of 20 questions with two possible answers each (choose a or b) over two pages, with scoring key on third page to determine your conflict management/negotiating style(s). Answer the questions before consulting the scoring key. Consider how you might work best with someone whose conflict management or negotiation style is different from yours.**
Risk-taking in organizations: This is less of an assessment exercise and more of an opportunity for reflection; it is two pages of open-ended questions.
*”Areas for development,” not “weaknesses.” The old familiar SWOT model of analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) can be replaced with SOAR: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results. With this model, organizations can avoid getting bogged down in the negative and what has happened in the past by focusing on the positive (what is working) and on the future (what do we want it to look like, how do we want to function, what do we want to offer).
**One of the best discussions of the week came out of this exercise, when we regrouped to discuss our results. Someone who had one conflict management style asked those with a different style how best to approach them to deal with conflict in a positive way. Recognizing that your co-workers – no matter where they are in the organizational hierarchy – may have a different style from yours brings a new level of awareness to the process of conflict management and negotiation.
In the photo at right, the circled numbers in green represent the results of the NELLS group. Though many of us scored high on two management styles (collaborating and compromising, for example), these numbers reflect only the highest scores. “Collaborating” was the most prevalent style, followed by compromising, competing, avoiding, and accommodating.