Being a leader is no easy task

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25 residents put their leadership skills to the test

By Kirsten Laskey

Becoming a leader was never meant to be a walk in the park. To gain even an inch or two of growth seems to require elbow grease, if not getting the hands downright dirty.

It was one of the first lessons 24 Los Alamos residents, with me included, learned during a two-day Leadership Los Alamos orientation, which was held Friday and Saturday at the Homewood Suites in Pojoaque.

This year’s Leadership Los Alamos will hold seven monthly classes. A graduation will be held on May 7.

To begin this process, some background information on the participants was gathered. On Friday night, we interviewed each other – who has ridden in a hot air balloon? What time of year is preferable? What were some reasons for participating in Leadership Los Alamos?

Saturday, we dug a little deeper.  The retreat facilitator Phil Bryson of On the Edge Productions, kicked the day off with a quiz.

The quiz determined what social styles each individual in the group possessed – whether it was driver, expressive, amiable, analytical or any combination of these styles. The key to the quiz was not only to identify your own style but to recognize what other styles people may possess. Therefore, you will be better equipped to work successfully with anyone.

Bryson explained, if people understand where their colleagues are coming from then they will be better able to work with others.

Drivers, we learned, take charge and jump quickly to tackle and overcome challenges. On the flip side, those who have amiable styles focus on relationships. They are concerned with everyone else’s welfare. Getting things done the right way is a skill associated with individuals who have analytical styles. Finally, those who have expressive qualities love having fun and working without constraints.

Think these styles only exist on paper? Next time you go to the grocery store, Bryson said, look at your fellow shoppers as proof that these styles exist in the real world.

Drivers will plow through the aisles to get their items and leave the store quickly, while amiable individuals will talk to shoppers, the check out the clerk and the bagging employee. Analytical shoppers will not only have a list but will organize it according to the route they take in the supermarket.

As for expressive, one participant joked that you’ll see them hanging out in the liquor aisle.

With this new knowledge of ourselves and others, we put our teamwork skills to the test.

In order to have high performance, Bryson noted that a team needed to have support, trust, accountability, truth and engagement or STATE.

We exercised STATE through a series of exercises. We placed our feet on strips of fabric and grabbed onto straps and had to synchronize our walking. We were blind-folded and tasked with shaping a piece of rope into a square. We had to strategize a route from one side of a gray squared rug to another that would not let out any soft beeping noises. We lifted one another through two sets of cables and finally, we fell from a ladder into the group’s open arms.

Some exercises we excelled in and others, our teamwork revealed a little rust. But hey, there are many more months to continue our education in leadership. By the end, I am sure the Leadership Los Alamos Class of 2009-2010 will be a lean, mean, well-oiled leadership machine.