I love my work. Two years ago I was able to attain assets from an existing ice cream shop in Swift Current. The business had been terribly run into the ground, and there was really nowhere to go but up. Last summer I spent most of my time trying to establish Dairy King as a new business. I had a reputation to turn around. I found myself having to learn business by just doing it. Marketing, menu design, food cost, food safety, payroll, taxes, ordering, inventory, hiring and yes, firing. My first year was definitely a learning experience but the books report a 75% increase in one year. It is commonly known that if a business grows by 5% per year, that it is succeeding. This year I had the logistics worked out. I had a business plan of what I wanted to accomplish and it came down to my staff to carry it out. What I didn’t realize was how much business has helped me grow as a future educator.
This summer I based a lot of my growth on my ability to train staff. I learned that one of my gifts as a leader is discernment. I am able to clearly access strengths and weaknesses of my employees within a few hours of knowing them. I was then able to utilize their strengths and help them grow in their weaknesses. As a teacher, I will need to do the same thing with my students. My ability to connect and problem solve will be an asset to me.
I also learned a lot about my own leadership style this summer. Since the logistics of the business were worked out I had a chance to really focus on the people that helped make me successful. The closer I worked with them the more I became aware of my own weaknesses. I am thankful for a staff that was so willing to work with me as a young employer.
When I worked at a bible camp three years ago, my program director did a personality test with us. It not only told us about ourselves but it showed us how to easily and effectively communicate with others. This is what the test said about me:
The Driver is a high achiever – a mover and shaker who is definitely not
averse to risk. The individual is extroverted, strong-willed, direct, practical,
organized, forceful, and decisive. Look for someone who tells it the way it is
and is very persuasive. Watch out or you’ll be worn down and bowled over.
A driver is task- rather than relationship-oriented and wants immediate
This individual is not concerned with how something is done, but what is
being done, and what results can be expected. “What” is his or her battle cry.
“What’s going on? What’s being done about it? What you should do is …!”
The Driver can be stubborn, domineering, impatient, insensitive, and short-
tempered, with little time for formalities or niceties. He or she can also be
demanding, opinionated, controlling, and uncompromising – or even
overbearing, cold, and harsh.
The Driver’s pleasure is power, control, and respect. His or her pain is loss
of respect, lack of results, and the feeling that he or she is being taken
When communicating with a Driver
- Focus on the task
- Talk about expected results
- Be businesslike and factual
- Provide concise, precise, and organized information
- Discuss and answer “what” questions
- Argue facts, not feelings
- Don’t waste time
- Don’t argue details
- Provide options.
What I realized about myself is that what I thought was clear communication, was actually domineering, impatient and harsh. At the beginning of the year I did the same tests with the girls who worked for me.
I found out which of them were expressive. Expressive people are incredibly social individuals, but they are leaders. An expressive would commonly be known as “the life of the party”. People love them and want to follow them because they are engaging. I was surprised to find that most of the girls who work for me have this as their personality style. Customers love the girls who are expressive, they give the best and most engaging service, and I believe it is these people who ensure that my customers will come back. As a teacher I know now how to pick an expressive personality out of a room. These students will do great in groups given that they can lead in some aspect. These types of people can be unorganized or sporadic so they work best alongside a driver or an analytical personality.
Analytics work very well alone. I had one analytical working for me. If I need something done efficiently, thoroughly and perfectly, I asked her. My students who are analytical most likely will not achieve their best work while in groups. This is something I’m still working on as a pre-service teacher. I believe group work can be incredibly rewarding for all students, even analytics but I have yet to figure out how they work best in groups.
The amiable personalities have been the hardest for me to figure out. An amiable is the exact opposite of a driver. Here is a visual:
Expressive | Driver
RELATIONSHIP ORIENTED ———–|——– TASK ORIENTED
Amiable | Analytical
My amiable employees want to be talked to in a way that shows I care about them. I care about them more then they know, but I do have hard time showing it in the way I speak. Amiable people are great workers. They observe and follow so easily and they get done what they are supposed to. They are more emotional so my amiable employees respond much better when I say “I Feel” statements. To be honest, this made me shutter in the beginning, I didn’t understand feelings in the workplace, but they are there and I have to work with them. These are students that I know I will have the hardest time connecting with. I have learned that amiable personalities really want to know you are proud of them and that you appreciate them for who they are, not just what they do. It is my hope that I will never forget how to make these students feel like they matter.
I have many ways that I view students in terms of learning styles and multiple intelligences, but this way of seeing people has helped me to know how to work with them. I can now pull peoples strengths out of them and stretch them as learners in the best way.
Now that I have written this I realize just how much I have learned this summer. As I head into a year that will prepare me for internship and a career, I hope that I can take what I learned at Dairy King and apply it to my students. Wish me luck.