Osceola County Government in Central Florida, one of the fastest growing counties in the United States, was intent on linking their human resource training efforts to the areas of most need, but there was frustration from the executive manager that people were reluctant to look for new and better ways to improve the organization. With these expressed goals and concerns, we implemented the LPI and developed a way to pinpoint the areas where the most improvement would be needed and areas where the group is the strongest using the following activity.
In the Leadership Practices Inventory Facilitators Guide, Third Edition, Part III: Appendixes contains an Appendix G, LPI Statements by Leadership Practice (page 211). This one page lists The Five Practices and the six behavioral items in the LPI that measure each of The Five Practices. It is a great summary page. For this activity we had in enlarged to poster size. At the end of a two-day session using The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, and prior to the Commitment portion, we asked each participant to identify the top three items that they felt were their strongest behaviors. We purposely chose to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. Each person was given three dot stickers on which they were to put their initials. They were then asked to place their dots next to the three items in which they were strongest. (They could choose their highest self-scores, the highest Observer scores, or a combination).
The results had a great visual impact. First, we could plainly see that this group was very strong at Enabling Others to Act but only one person (out of 30) placed one of the three dots in Challenging the Process. It plainly reinforced the frustration that the Executive Manager had expressed in the quest for process improvement. Second, this very visible snapshot of strengths and weakness gave the human resources staff some good ideas for the type of training needed to improve areas in need of attention. A third benefit used from this activity was that each person could look at areas where he/she would like to improve and partner with a person that had that item or area as a strength. During the Commitment Memo activity, there was great discussion around how someone who wanted to improve in an area could benefit by what another is doing or saying (behaving) that made others perceive that item as a strength.
The participants thought this was one of the best activities they did in the two days and we summarized the results and distributed to all for future reference. In this way, they could continuously remember the strengths of each other and use that for formal and informal mentoring.
Stephen Hoel is President of Diversity Leadership Consultants.