Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

Defining A Leadership Style: Humor Leads the Way

Want to have some fun deciding what kind of leadership skills you possess?

I’ve spent half my life taking quizzes. While some were of the legitimate, albeit bizarre, academic kind (“What was the impact of the Boer War on the fleece industry?”), many were of the frivolous,   equally bizarre, self-reflective sort (“What does your horoscope say about your eyebrow shape?”).

These days I find myself unable to resist the lures of any test that will reveal my “Hidden Leadership Style” or “Unique Leadership Quality.” These self-assessments, as widely available as tarot card readings but less accurate, promise to “accelerate your achievement level” and “identify your customizable potentialities immediately.” Clearly the one thing they cannot promise is any help in using the English language as we know it.

Rather than waste any more of our collective time, I’ve decided to introduce what I modestly consider the Definitive Leadership Style Quiz for Grown-Ups With a Sense of Humor.

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For the best results, please answer the following questions honestly and candidly.

1. The most effective leaders can be identified by their:

a. Warm and inclusive manner towards all peoples, no matter what their backgrounds, positions, or needs;

b. Their height, weight, tooth color, hairstyles, footwear, and lack of obvious twitches;

c. Their guns.

2. When faced with serious adversity, a seasoned leader will ask his or her team to:

a. Understand the importance of community at such times and come together in order both to assume collective responsibility and create a collective response;

b. Make sure that what happens in the school stays in the school.

c. Lock arms when facing the SWAT Team.

3. The leadership style you most admire and would wish to emulate in your own environment is embodied by:

a. The late, great Steve Jobs. Under his guidance, art and creativity flourished while being paired with discipline, hard work, scientific ingenuity, and a sense of community;

b. Winston Churchill. Wisdom and experience made Churchill a formidable figure under the worst of circumstances, and he instilled courage, resilience, and a sense of intelligent morality in those under his command;

c. Vlad the Impaler. He never had to ask for anything twice.

4. If you could choose to be any animal, you would be:

a. An eagle. Above the fray, I envision the whole of my territory as I swooped upwards. My associates would be the “wind under my wings”;

b. A mama grizzly. Entirely apart from any political associations, I would be able both to nurture and protect my young while scaring off outside influences. My colleagues would be part of my “sleuth” (yes, that’s what a group of bears is called) and together we would uncover the mysteries of how to educate our young;

c. The Velociraptor. He never had to ask for anything. Ever.

5. Even your best friend and worst enemy would have to agree that you are:

a. An empowering presence in the lives of others;

b. A force to be reckoned with;

c. Best friend?

6. On your desk, you always have:

a. A box of tissues, just in case anyone needs to open up about a tender or sensitive subject;

b. The Yale Book of Quotations, just in case you need to find the perfect phrase or inspiring thought;

c. Business cards from a local bail bondsman.

7. You never drink:

a. At all; your reputation is too important to put at risk;

b. During the week or when you’re working on a project; you need a clear head to be a good leader;

c. Peppermint Schnapps in your morning coffee; too much like toothpaste.

8. If a colleague wanted you to intervene in an alleged sexual harassment situation, your first impulse would be to:

a. Ask both parties to write out their version of the events and then call a meeting to discuss your assessment of the matter;

b. Request that a professional from HR be asked to evaluate the problem; this kind of event needs to be recorded publicly;

c. Fire the one you find less attractive.

9. You’re a good leader because:

a. You care;

b. You have experience and perspective;

c. You say so.

10. If you weren’t a Certified Leadership Type, you’d be:

a. An enthusiastic and productive part of the team;

b. A renegade, searching for new pathways;

c. Incarcerated.

 

What’s your score? Are you kidding?

If you’re a real leader, you already know your score—and you’ve already aced the quiz.

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

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