The Moment My Leadership Changed for the Better

I have a confession to make.

It’s based on a test I took four years ago called the DISC profile.  DISC is a measurement of behavior and is incredibly accurate except that mine had to be wrong.

The DISC analysis came back, telling me that I was a different kind of leader than I wanted to be.  

It had to be wrong, or so I thought...

DISC said that I was categorized as a “High C”, meaning that I was task-oriented, loved data and was highly analytical.  The only problem was that most leaders that I knew were “High D” or “High I”.  D’s typically are strong, loud and bold. I’s are BS’ers, play golf all day and schmooze.  

Some famous High C's are: Albert Einstein, Mr. Spock and Al Gore.  I'm not sure I'd sign up for a long road trip with that group.  

Our culture, if we’re honest, often promotes the loud, highly extroverted and “visionary” leaders.  

That’s ok… if you’re one of them.  But what if you’re not?  What if, like me, your leadership style is more subtle, more architect than Donald Trump? 

Remember Good to Great by Jim Collins?  The directive was clear: the best leaders, according to research, are often consistent, meat and potatoes influencers.  

  • They love people and data. (You can love both!)
  • They work long hours and still enjoy work-life balance.
  • They have a life outside of work.
  • They love what they do.

That’s me, I thought as I re-read Collins’ book years afterwards.  It then clicked: my own leadership had been sabotaged by a false (and narrow) image of what a leader is supposed to look like.  

It was time to define leadership for myself, and that’s partly what this blog is for.  When Cary and the kids see me today, they know me first as a Christian and second as husband and dad.  As for my colleagues, they hopefully see me as a servant leader and that’s the kind of leader that inspires me.

To the servant leaders who tried to point me towards humble stewardship, thanks.  Here’s to you Fr. Dennis Berry, Wally Crum and Jeanne Gradone- you are servant leaders who have polished the rough edges of my leadership vibe. Still a long way to go, of course, but on my way.

If you are a rising leader, here’s the invitation: be clear about who you are and what kind of a leader you want to be.  You do not need to be someone else, period. 

It’s simple.  Leadership doesn’t have to be complicated nor do you have to replicate someone else’s style.