CAMP 2017: Finding the leader in you

Story by Lauren McGaughy and Louise Dewast, 2017 JAWS Fellow | Photo by Louise Dewast

The quality of your relationships with co-workers keeps the engine of success running. This was the lesson delivered at the “Finding the Leader in You” workshop lead by Tara Puckey, ‎Associate Executive Director at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), at Journalism and Women Symposium’s 2017 Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP).

We’re all different people, which makes us different types of leaders. To prove this point, participants completed the DiSC behavior assessment, a test that aims to identify personality strengths and weaknesses. After comparing results, attendees discussed how they’d respond to different workplace problems and noticed how they worked with people different to them.

Tara, who lives in Indianapolis, Ind., has been teaching workshops on leadership across the country for six years. During the four-hour session, she pushed participants to ask themselves hard questions: “Why are you here? Why is that important? Is there something that needs to be done now and are you the one that needs to do it?”

JAWS Fellows Lauren and Louise both found out they were C (for compliance) personality types who are analytical thinkers and thrive when there are set goals and clear feedback. Lauren was further categorized as an “objective thinker” and Louise as “creative.” Other types in the DISC framework include D for dominance, I for inducement and S for submission.

D types tend to shape their environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results. I types achieve best results by influencing or persuading others. S types cooperate with others within existing circumstances to carry out tasks and C types work conscientiously to ensure quality and accuracy.

“Not only did I learn more about how I can tap into my existing strengths, but learning about the other three personality types reminded me success depends just as much on understanding those around you as it is knowing yourself,” said Lauren.

Louise added, “It was interesting to see how different leadership styles can disagree or even clash on how to resolve a workplace issue, but also telling to see that we arrived at better results when we worked together as a team.”

Tara recommends bringing the DiSC test to your office but said it is best for a neutral third party from outside the office to administer the assessment.

“My favorite part of this workshop is watching people get to that ‘aha’ moment and at the end when we move on from the skills and look at the bigger picture,” Tara told Louise after the panel, “because so many people tend to miss the middle stuff.”

One of Tara’s final pieces of advice was not to get so focused on final goals that you lose track of opportunities along the way. “The whole point of dancing is the dance,” Tara explained, urging participants not to forget what keeps us motivated each day.

When you understand what your own strengths and weaknesses are as well as those of people around you, you can become a great leader, Tara ended with, whether you are “dominant,” “inductive,” “submissive” or “compliant.”