Leadership styles, relationship layers…

We started off today with NOLS leadership assessment. Four styles of leadership included Architects & Analysts, emphasizing meaning and conceptual functions; Drivers, emphasizing action and direction; Relationship Masters, emphasizing caring and Spontaneous Motivators, emphasizing emotional stimulation. I ended up falling under the Architects and Analysts style.

It was important to reflect upon the role we have at La Puente and how our leadership style might play into it. Since I’ll be doing a lot of research and writing, the characteristics of my leadership style actually fit very well: seek information and opinion; good at analysis and process observation; make decisions based on facts; translate feelings and experiences into ideas.

On the other hand, I also fit into the Relationship Masters style: building and sustaining a community, works well on a team; support, praise and feel concern for others; and displays high regard for others’ wishes, viewpoints and actions.

While this assessment can only place you into one of four different styles, it is obvious that you can overlap and utilize all of them depending on the situation you are in. There are times where you may have to step up, or down, and take a leadership role you may not usually find yourself comfortable in—and what a wonderful way to learn and grow.

It’s so helpful to know each of these leadership styles—not just for yourself—but to recognize it in those around you. Only by observing and listening will you be able to get a true sense for what the other person is asking for.

After this exercise, Amy sat us down and told us her life story. It was so amazing to me how open and honest she was with every gutsy, personal detail of her life. She said she realized one day that she shouldn’t be ashamed of her past, but be proud of her story and who she has become. That, I can definitely agree with. She said she has absolutely no problem walking up to a total stranger and telling them all of these details of her life. She’s an open book that no one ever gets the opportunity to read because she’ll quickly tell you for herself.

I admire and respect this about her, but I’m torn about it for myself:

While I totally understand the value and importance of being vulnerable and sharing with others, I’m not sure how I feel about completely spilling my entire guts out to everyone I meet, as soon as I meet them. I think it is important to build a connection and trust with someone first.

It takes time.

If I’m going to open up to someone and share some of my personal experiences, I want to make sure it would be meaningful to that person, and that they’d care. Why waste their time or my own?

Too often while on Semester at Sea we’d get back on the ship after spending a week in a country and everyone would ask, “How was your time there? What did you do?” My mind would race through all these things I experienced and wanted so badly to share—but did they really want to hear me process my days? Did they really care and were they really going to truly listen? More often than not, it was a disappointing no. I’d spill my guts out, share something with them that touched my heart and was really meaningful to me and they’d just smile and say, “Wow! My friends and I ended up getting a hotel on the beach and we partied all week.” They simply wanted to hear my experiences and compare it to theirs to make sure they didn’t miss out on something more enjoyable.

I remember a few weeks in, Addie gave me some solid advice: Next time someone asks you what you were up to in port, tell them, “Hey, it was so awesome, and I’d really love to tell you more about it over lunch sometime!” More often than not, a lunch was never arranged. But the ones who did care and did want to hear about it, took the time to sit down and listen. Those are the ones I’ve maintained relationships with today.

I find it fascinating how there are so many levels of relationships you form with people. There are people you may walk past down the street and smile at; people next to you in line at the post-office you may exchange small-talk with (or, in Kent, you may have over an hour-long conversation with); people you share an experience with, but don’t necessarily stay in touch with; friends who you talk to every few months; friends you talk to each day…

For me, it takes time to show my vulnerability, time to open up to people, but the more they listen—the more they care—the more layers I’ll peel back for them.

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