Inclusive Leadership Training prompt: Attributes I have (good and bad) and skills I want to work on.

I’ve started doing a short course titled ‘Inclusive Leadership Training’ by Catalyst. It started on the 18th of February, so there’s still time to join if you want to, and it only needs an hour or two a week of engagement. It’ll take you longer if, like me, you find yourself thinking maybe too deeply about the information they present and the writing prompts.

One such writing prompt is below. I’ve already shared this in the discussion forums (as requested), but I thought it would be interesting to share it here and see if others have similar experiences.

What leadership attributes do you currently have? What do you do well as a leader? As a follower? What attributes do you see in the leaders you identified earlier that you want to emulate in your own life?

If possible, tell the community about specific situations where you’ve succeeded (or maybe failed!) as a leader. What did you learn from those experiences? And remember that leadership extends to all areas in our lives, not just work, so be sure to keep school, family, personal and community relationships, etc., in mind as well.

I find these kinds of writing prompts very difficult. It’s like writing a personal statement for a university application. Any positive points I write seem forced and like bragging, while any negative points make me sound like a bad and undeserving person. However, as I seem to keep saying, we’re all human, and no one is perfect, so I’ll give it my best shot.

Attributes I have

I would say my best attribute is that I encourage people to try things out on their own. I suppose I do that because I like it when other people let me just give it a go. I learn from doing, so maybe I assume other people will learn like I do. I try to be proactive and self-sufficient, and so I try to encourage this in others as well.

I think this also makes me a good follower, insomuch as I don’t need a lot of hands-on support. However, while I don’t need a lot of guidance, I do find that I need frequent praise/reassurance. This might be a weakness of mine, but I make sure that, in turn, I go out of my way to thank people and praise them on their work.

I would also say that I am able to discern what needs to change for the future. For example, I’ve recently convinced my company to get a new ticket system (I work in IT) because I knew it was a big thing holding us back and would improve the workflow of almost every department, not just my own. I pushed for months to get a new product, and the higher-ups eventually agreed with me. Since implementing it (and it’s not even finished yet), I have heard from just about everyone in the company how amazing this product is, and they didn’t even realise they needed it less than six months ago! I think ahead and work hard to help my company.

A negative attribute that I have and that I’m trying to work on is that when someone isn’t proactive, I get annoyed. I feel like I’m a busy person, so why should I spend hours showing you something that I’ve given you resources to look at and an environment to try it out without permanent repercussions? It’s unfair of me, especially since I work in IT, and the people I’m supporting aren’t computer specialists. I try not to show my frustration, but I know I can work harder to be more understanding.

Another area I need to work on is my ability to delegate on tasks that are important to me. I can and do delegate tasks on a daily basis at work, assigning incoming support tickets to the people best suited for the task. As we have a new member of staff, I also try to assign him tickets that he might not be able to do right off the bat, but that can stretch his knowledge of the systems we use a bit further. However, I am working on a big project at work at the moment, and I find it difficult to delegate any of the work that I don’t feel comfortable letting other people do, as I’m afraid they won’t do it the way I want it to be done. This means I am keeping a lot of work that I then need to do.

Attributes I want to develop

Here are just a few skills I’d like to develop:

  • Remaining calm under pressure, and not getting snappy
  • Patience and understanding
  • Trusting others with important tasks
  • Knowing when to let something go
  • Better communication skills
  • Trusting myself

My newfound love affair with Cetirizine.

As some of you may have already gleaned, I’ve developed a rare allergy called cold urticaria, which is an allergy to cold. My reaction to even the slightest of cool breezes is to develop an irritatingly itchy, blotchy red rash. The Oxford winter has left me with swollen fingers, hot ears and a numb nose from just the five-minute walk between my office and my car. I even had to ask HR to buy me a heater because I just could not concentrate while my feet (in two pairs of socks–one thermal–and leather boots) were cold and maddeningly itchy.

Back in November, I saw my GP, who wrote to the local dermatology department at one of Oxford’s many hospitals. An appointment was made for me (two months later–thanks, NHS), which happened to be a couple of weeks ago. I was seen by a very sympathetic and kind doctor, who had luckily seen this allergy once before. After undergoing the expected ice cube (or in this case, ice pack) test, being examined by a curious med student and having far too many vials of blood taken, I was given a prescription for a couple of antihistamines to try.

I was sceptical, since I’d already tried over-the-counter and two other prescribed antihistamines, but lo and behold, the first drug I tried worked! Well, mostly worked. It didn’t take away all the symptoms, but it took away the worst one–the itching. I still get the numbness in my nose when I go outside, but I can handle that. The rashes were slowly driving me insane, and I am so, so grateful for that doctor and Cetirizine.

This will sound incredibly cheesy, but I guess my lesson learned here was to have hope and keep trying different medications until I found one that worked. (My other lesson learned just this evening is to get the miracle pills on prescription, as Cetirizine is sold over-the-counter here as Piriteze…which is £3 for just 7 tablets, as opposed to the prescription charge of £8.05 for 60 tablets. Given that I’m taking two a day, that’s a no-brainer.)

Towels, chopping boards and other things I’m using wrong.

I read a BuzzFeed article the other day on how often you should wash your towels. Read it here. Apparently, you’re supposed to wash your towels after three uses. Just three. And any cloths that get completely soaked? After every use.

Before reading this article, I thought I had a really good system going. I do 2-3 loads of clothes every weekend (whites, colours, darks). On top of that, I alternate between bedding and towels, doing two towel loads every other weekend (including dish towels, cleaning rags, etc.). If I were to take said advice, I would have to have 15 towels to keep me, my hair and my boyfriend in drying business for the two weeks. Ain’t nobody got space for that! (And by that, I mean I don’t have space to store 15+ towels in my house unless I want to sacrifice a bookshelf or something.)

Now I know you’ll say I could just wash towels more frequently. The boyfriend and I are both busy IT professionals who probably work longer than we should. Neither of us has time to be washing towels every three days and all the other frankly OTT recommendations of our modern world.

And I mean that. These kinds of articles are popping up everywhere, joining all the other advice on how to avoid bacteria at all costs. This is scaremongering. When was the last time someone died because they didn’t wash their towel for a month, or even a few? I was perfectly healthy in my first year of university, where I avoided doing too much laundry because it involved lugging a bag/suitcase/basket outside to the designated laundry room. This room was small and had maybe five machines that had to be shared by hundreds of first-year students. There was no way I was going to go all that way and pay a pound every three days just to spare myself from coming in contact with bacteria.

It’s like the advice to have separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables. I’m sure there are those of you out there who are a stickler for this protocol, but I can assure you that I am still alive despite using the same boards for both. Gasp!

I also grew up licking the spoon when baking, and not once did I get salmonella, but the way the media goes on about it you’d think it was inevitable. I ran around outside, made mud pies, broke both arms and played with farm animals. I’m 23 and still here!

The fact is, bacteria is everywhere, including all over and inside your body. I am in the camp that believes that people have survived quite well without all this overprotection. I’m not saying to not wash your hands or use the same knife over and over without washing it, but I am suggesting that you use your common sense and not go overboard by taking every link-bait suggestion out there. Your immune system will thank you for giving it some exercise. 😉