Friday, April 20, 2007

CSI Leadership

I just completed my first weekend as a participant in the Leadership Academy, a year-long, intensive leadership development program. Sound familiar? It was an enlightening, thought provoking weekend. I was given the opportunity to complete quite a few assessments prior to beginning the course. I did the Meyers-Briggs, the Leadership Practices Inventory (a 360 degree evaluation tool), the FIRO-B (delves into behaviors and interpersonal relationships), and the CSI, or Change Style Indicator.

That is alot of self-reflective information to absorb all at once. I must say, though, that the CSI was the most interesting for me. I learned that, in relation to change, there is a continuum from Conserver to Originator. Conservers tend to feel most comfortable with the status quo and require a great deal of empirical evidence and persuasion before adjusting the notion that change is necessary. Originators feel change is beneficial and important for the growth and vitality of an organization. Right in the middle of the continuum, you find the pragmatists. These people will make decisions on a case by case basis, based on the evidence, and will easily see both sides of the coin. Pragmatists are often labeled wishy-washy by the conservers and indecisive by the originators.

The biggest aha for me was that it is important to get a sense of where you and your cohorts fall in this continuum. This helps you to understand why they ( and you!) behave as they do in relation to change, and can help you shape your arguments and approaches (and and your attitude.) Rather than merely labeling people, the CSI provides context for understanding each other's styles and preferences. And, this is important--just because you might be a conserver, it does not mean that you cannot accept, adapt to, and embrace change. It just means that you need more evidence that the change is necessary and positive. Conversely, originators, while thriving on change, can behave in very conservative ways if the evidence suggests that change would not be prudent. Great stuff!

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