Tag Archives: phoenix

Leadership styles, part 2: Have you flipped your iceberg lately?

pegacorn_stickerHappy Monday, everyone. Due to requests, here is some new NWB merchandise based on the mythical creatures leadership styles I wrote about. Now you can proudly proclaim that you are a Dragon, Phoenix, Pegacorn, or Griffin. I changed unicorn to Pegacorn to distinguish from the general nonprofit unicorn, and Lion-Turtle to Griffin because I didn’t want Nickelodeon to sue me. Thanks to the ever-brilliant Stacy, who designs this website, for creating these mugs and t-shirts.

Just to recap, Dragons are decisive and action-oriented and would rather run into traffic than talk about their feelings. Phoenixes have lots of energy and vision and are great communicators, but they’re easily distracted. Pegacorns bring harmony and consensus and are great listeners but are often indecisive. And Griffins ground everyone in processes and data and are great analyzers but can be too perfectionistic and slow to action. Continue reading

Help, I suck at time management!

time-mngmtHi everyone. This is not going to be a high-quality post, because I spent many, many hours this weekend watching House of Cards on Netflix. Darn you, Frank Underwood, you creepy, effective bastard and your ruthlessly efficient wife! Now it is 12:30am and I am only beginning to work on this post, which is really more like a cry for help. I was going to skip writing this week, but I want to set a good example for my son, who is now 10-months-old. “Son,” I told him today while he was snuggled up on my lap, “always be consistent, sometimes even at the cost of quali—what…what is that in your mouth?! Is that a paperclip?! Ack! Where did you get this paperclip?! Spit that out! Spit it out right now! Stop squirming! Open your mouth! No! You can’t eat this paperclip! Stop biting Daddy! OW!”

So let’s talk about time management. We are all incredibly busy people. Helping make the world better takes a lot of time. I am always amazed at the people who can manage their time well. They tend to be morning people, and they wake up at 5am to do some yoga and drink a green smoothie made from wheatgrass and hemp oil or something before heading to the office by 7am and they’re all like “I feel so good because I exercised this morning, and wheatgrass is soooo good for you.” If you are one of these people, I admire and hate you in equal measures.

I am not one of these people. Before the baby came along, I woke up at 9:30am and got to the office at 10am. Then I’d work until whenever, coming home anywhere from 6pm to 10pm. That seems like a solid 8 to 12 hours per day, except those hours are not efficient. Maybe 5 hours was spent doing actual work. The rest would be filled with reading the news, arguing with various people about the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, and looking at pictures of cute baby animals. Then, at home, feeling awful that I didn’t get much accomplished, I would put in several hours at night—unless TBS has a marathon of The Golden Girls, because, come on, those girls, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia are hilarious!

Now that the baby is here, time is even scarcer. My emails are going crazy, I have way too many meetings, and I haven’t been sleeping enough. I must get a handle on things. A while ago I wrote about the four different work styles. Some of us are Dragons, some are Unicorns, others are Phoenix, and others are Lion-Turtles. Reading that post again, I realized that they each handle time management differently:

Dragons are probably the best time managers, since they are action-oriented and are hard set on deadlines. They don’t like excuses. If you say you’re going to do something, you better do it, or a Dragon will set your hair on fire. Quality may sometimes be debatable, but stuff will get done.

Phoenixes will commit to just about anything because they get bored easily and need to work on a billion things all at once. But then they get distracted by shiny new projects and drop balls left and right. They are poor time managers but because they’re usually charismatic, the rest of us tend to let it slide.

Lion-Turtles take forever to think about things because they need everything to be absolutely perfect. They are systematic and organized with their time. They, like the Dragons, are deadline-driven and high-quality, but they need plenty of lead time in order to analyze and think about everything.

Unicorns are considerate and want to be helpful, so they’ll often spend time on other people’s projects even at the cost of doing their own work. They put people before time, and they overcommit. So if a coworker is feeling down, they’ll drop their own work to cheer that person up. In other words, they also suck at time management.

Crap, I think I am a Phoenix-Unicorn hybrid, the two worst time-managers among the four styles. Dragons are awesome this area, followed by Lion-Turtles (I think Frank and Claire in House of Cards are these two styles respectively). I had planned to write a post called “10 Time Management Tips for Busy Nonprofit Peeps,” but I don’t think I am qualified to dish advice on something I pretty much suck at.

So, I need your help. What strategies do you use to manage your time? There are tons of time-management tips out there. They all make sense. “Tip 1: Make a To-Do list. Tip 2: Prioritize your list. Tip 3: Do the stuff on your list.” But it’s not that simple! To-do lists work for some people. Plus, we nonprofits are all understaffed, so we default to the Competency Paradox, which states that the more competent you are, the more work you get. Things are getting out of control! It’s 1:45am and the baby wakes up in 5 hours!

Let me know what works for you, and what style you are. You can type it in the comment section. Or if you’re free this week, I’d be glad to get coffee or a drink to talk about it for several hours.

Work styles: Are you a Dragon, Pegacorn, Phoenix, or Griffin

 

beast-986054_960_720[Note: The set of creatures originally comprised Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix, and Lion-Turtle. Due to copyright and general confusion, it has been changed.]

Most of us in the field have done various “behavioral styles” activities.  With so much of our work being relationship-based, it is important for us to understand one another. This will lessen our chances of strangling our coworkers or boss or board members or even some funders or clients.

There are dozens of categorization systems, some using color, directions, or adjectives such as amiables, expressives, drivers, analyticals; or controllers, stabilizers, persuaders, analyzers, etc. Whatever the system, everyone tends to agree that there are four different behavior styles.

It is always good for us to get regular refreshers on what those four styles are. But colors and directions and adjectives are so boring. Here, I’ve relabeled the styles after bad-ass mythical creatures, each awesome (and also sometimes sucky) in their own ways. Find out which style you and the people around you are, and then try to get along with everyone.

How do I know which bad-ass mythical creature I am?

The best way is for you to show this blog post to three or more people, ask them to read it, and then tell you which of these styles most closely describes you. That’s because what we think we are may be completely different from how others perceive us; for instance, I used to think I was an amazing beat-boxer, but based on feedback I was really more like a dying weasel with a spittle problem…

If you’re too lazy to ask three people, just take this one-question quiz below.

When you read the title of this blog post, what was your first thought?

  1. Whoo hoo, Dragons, Pegacorns, Phoenixes, Griffins! Sounds like a drinking game!
  2. This is stupid. I don’t have time to read blog posts about work styles. I have stuff to do.
  3. Hm, this article sounds silly, but I should read it to determine if it has any validity.
  4. Aw, someone took time to write this blog post. I should read it because they spent so much time working on it.

If your answer is 1, you’re a Phoenix; 2, you’re a Dragon; 3, you’re a Griffin; 4, you’re a Pegacorn.

Dragon

(Red, North, Fire, Controller, Director, Driver, Dominance, Decisive, Sophia)

“When is this meeting over so we can do stuff?”

dragon_stickerWhy Dragons are awesome: Dragons are decisive and like to get stuff done. They are action-oriented and efficient. They hate long meetings, and they’d usually rather juggle live cobras than have to do a wishy-washy ice breaker. Dragons will drive teams to take actions and to be expedient. They wish you would stop reading stupid blog posts like this and do something, like your job.

Why Dragons sometimes suck: They can be brusque and impatient. In their drive for action and efficiency, they can make mistakes. And they can run over people. Then they might roll their eyes when the people they run over want to talk about their feelings. Feelings are for losers, according to Dragons, because while people are all experiencing emotions and crap, stuff is not getting done.

How to best work with a Dragon: Get to the point quickly. Be action-oriented. Don’t make them share their feelings. Just do your job.

Dragons will have most conflict with: Pegacorns. They find Pegacorns to be indecisive, emotionally weak, easily manipulated, and their focus on harmony and snuggling an annoying waste of time.

Phoenix

(Yellow, West, Air, Persuader, Socializer, Expressive, Influencer, Interactive, Blanche )

“Let’s go to Happy Hour after this meeting!” 

Why Phoenixes are awesomephoneix_stickerPhoenixes are visionary, big-picture thinkers. They are optimistic, trustful, and have unlimited energy. They bring fun wherever they go. They are creative and spontaneous. Phoenixes are great at building relationships, since they are charismatic, great talkers, and excellent at convincing people to think and do things differently. They love to get everyone to go out for drinks after work. They like to be around people, and they’re often hilarious.

Why Phoenixes sometimes suck: They can be unfocused and fail to follow up on things that are not fun, which, unfortunately is about 85% of work. They are not good at details and get bored easily. They can be distracted and distracting, and sometimes they burst into songs, which, depending on the timing and frequency, can be either endearing, or make you want to throw a stapler at them.

How to best work with a Phoenix: Get to know them on a personal level, and let them get to know you. Participate in the stuff they suggest, praise them, and go out for drinks with them. (Hint: Phoenixes like to buy people drinks)

Phoenixes will have most conflict with: Griffins. They find Griffins to be way too serious, stuck-up, and boring as hell.

Griffin

(Blue, East, Earth, Analyzer, Thinker, Analytical, Conscientious, Cautious, Dorothy)

“I’ve prepared handouts for everyone for this meeting.”

Why Griffins are awesomeGriffin_stickerGriffins are diligent, careful, logical, and accurate. They take time to do their work, so it is usually high quality. They are detailed oriented, often picking up stuff that other people miss. They love processes, data, and well-reasoned arguments. They bring grounding and balance to any team, encouraging everyone pay attention to boring technical crap like objectives and timelines and data. They are not sure this description of them is accurate; they need more time to think about it first.

Why Griffins sometimes suck: They require a lot of time to think and plan, which can be annoying. Also, they keep wanting more and more data, and keep asking questions all the time, like “what’s the budget for this?” and “what was the process for coming up with this budget?” which can be infuriating. Sometimes they seem boring, since they often like to keep work life and personal life separate, meaning they might seem stand-offish when everyone goes out for drinks and they don’t.

How to best work with Griffins: Be specific, thorough, and demonstrate that you have thought thoroughly about stuff after doing research. Be consistent and predictable and don’t seem too impulsive.

Griffins will have most conflict with: Phoenixes. They find the Phoenixes to be silly, narcissistic, drunkards, and time wasters.

Pegacorn

(Green, South, Water, Stabilizer, Relater, Amiable, Steady, Stabilizing, Rose)

“Let’s make ‘snuggling’ the first item on the agenda.”

Why Pegacorns are awesome: Pegacorns are considerate, thoughtful, and good at listening. pegacorn_stickerThey like harmony and use their unicorn powers to help people get along. Unicorns will always be on the lookout to make sure everyone is comfortable and no one feels left out. They are good at mediating conflicts and getting people to hold hands and snuggle and crap like that. Even though they are gentle, they will stab injustice in the face with their horns of equity. 

Why Pegacorns sometimes suck:  Pegacorns are always searching for consensus, so they can be indecisive, needing to check in with everyone. They can be conforming, insecure, and wishy-washy. Wanting to avoid conflict, sometimes they bottle up their feelings, absorbing the stress until it reaches a breaking point, and then they explode, getting messy pegacorn bits all over the place.

How to best work with a Pegacorn: Do what you say you’re going to do, be kind and considerate to everyone, tell them you appreciate them.

Unicorns will have most conflict with: Dragons. They find Dragons to be insensitive and thoughtless clods who don’t value others’ feelings.

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I hope that was helpful. Remember, no one mythical creature is better than any other. A good team will have at least one of each of the styles. And also, keep in mind that while we each have one dominant style, we can (and should) learn other styles and transform into different mythical creatures as situations demand. If we can all learn each other’s styles and learn to work with one another, maybe, just maybe, we will survive planning the next annual fundraising event.

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