Know Yourself to Lead Yourself

Refreshed, energized and challenged. Those are just a few words to describe how I feel after the incredible learning experienced last week at the AASA Leadership Academy. From start to finish, this was one of the most engaging learning experiences during my educational career. The collective talent, visionary thinking and optimism of the cohort is incredible. I feel blessed to learn alongside this group the next 10 months as we work to build our leadership capacity.

Leaders from South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Virginia met in Minneapolis, MN to expand their capacity and continue their professional learning. The first few days led us on a reflective journey to better understand how individual tendencies affect our organizations. We carefully reviewed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and learned about the 5 Voices. These were helpful activities to consider what it’s like for others to be on the other side of us. Study of foundational voices led to a better understanding of how and why team dynamics are complicated.

My greatest takeaway from the academy’s kickoff is the lack of consideration given to what we should already know about human nature. Although much has been discovered about the uniqueness of each person and our jaggedness (Rose, 2016), by default, most of us tend to act in a way that assumes sameness. Perhaps organizations dismiss personality inventories as fluffy team-building activities for initial employee on-boarding, but we ignore our team’s diversity at our own peril. Collaboration holds great promise to innovate, transform practice and achieve desired results. To bring out the best from our teams we must remain mindful of what we (and others) see in the mirror. We must learn to identify and appreciate the diversity of voices in our organizations.


Below are some of the tools from last week’s kickoff:

Peace Index (link) – A deceptively simple tool to examine your level of peace based upon the interaction between your purpose, your place and the people in your life.

The Core (link) – This tool examines how IQ (competency), EQ (connectivity) and PQ (self-awareness) interact to shape our leadership. The ultimate goal is to have these domains overlap in a complementary way, understanding that this balance brings out the best in those around us.

Know Yourself to Lead Yourself (link) – This tool can be used to reflect on your natural disposition (result of nature, nurture and choice) to understand and anticipate your tendencies. Knowing your innate wiring is the first step toward understanding how you act under certain conditions and taking action to avoid negative consequences.

CORE Process (link) – This tool captures takes the discipline of knowing yourself to a productive end, an action orientation. The CORE process is C (call it), O (own it), R (response – recognize my response), and E (execute – what am I accountable for?).

Support Challenge Matrix (link) – This tool builds upon the work of Blake & Mouton (1964) and examines the interplay between levels of support and challenge within an organization. This tool looks to guide the leadership cohort throughout our journey as we learn more about the habits of a Liberator.

Five Gears (link) – This framework helps establish a common language around time management and focus in five distinct areas of life (personal, relational, social, work tasks and focused).



GiANT Worldwide. (2016). Visual toolkit: US version 4.0. (PDF slides)

Kubicek, J., & Cockram, S. (2015). 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time. John Wiley & Sons.

Kubicek, J., & Cockram, S. (2016). 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead. John Wiley & Sons.