Dear Five Faces: Your blog is very informative, but I have a topic I’ve not seen you address. I’m Wood, married, mother of one, working in Manhattan. For three years I’ve also served as president of our condo association. We have a congenial board and our meetings have been pleasant, but efficient. That all changed four months ago when Laura joined the board. She is cheery, but opinionated. Productive, but assertive. Upbeat, but bossy. We clashed almost immediately, but I couldn’t tell you exactly why. The best I can say is that for every suggestion I make, she has an alternative version. If I say we should have something signed by Friday, she’ll say she thinks Monday is soon enough. If I bring paint samples in for the laundry area, she’ll suggest the colors should be more beige. But then, when I was complaining about Laura to my husband the other day, it hit me. She’s another Wood, isn’t she? What do I do? Signed, Bossed Around Boss
Dear Boss: In a word, Yes! Laura absolutely sounds like another Wood. And really, most people are happy to have Woods serve on boards. They are great problem-solvers and can see the way out of almost any difficult situation. They are very goal-oriented and can usually make things happen quickly and efficiently. They are happy to step up and lead the way, and everyone is usually happy to let them manage things, too. Everyone, that is, except another Wood. Especially one who is already invested in managing things. In a nutshell, that’s the problem with two Woods: Both will likely want to lead. It’s natural for a Wood.
As the current leader of your board, there are several reasons you’ll find Laura threatening. First, she’s challenging your command. Wood’s thrive on individual accomplishment and success. When your board does something great for your condo, I’m sure you give the whole board credit, but privately you give yourself credit for leading the way, which is one of the things that juices a Wood about leadership. Lack of chaos is something else important to Woods, and chaos is what you probably fear when Laura wants to re-open topics that you think are decided.
Another reason you will dislike Laura suggesting changes to what you’re doing is that it stops you in your tracks, which Woods hate. Stopping a Wood is like a car running into a brick wall. Woods like to get up a head of steam and use that momentum to carry them through a project to completion. Stopping a Wood’s forward momentum means that the Wood has to rev up again, which seems wasteful of time and energy, especially when they’d already decided the best course of action and were on their way.
So it’s not surprising that Laura is bothering you, but the truth is that if the tables were turned, you would probably be doing to Laura what she is innocently doing to you. So I humbly suggest you manage your relationship with Laura to make it a win-win for you both. Instead of trying to cut her out of the picture, give her more responsibility. Delegate an entire project to her and let her run with it. Support her and treat her the way you want her to treat you. Wood/Wood relationships can be unbelievably productive. The challenge is often deciding who gets to be the leader. For now, you can lead the whole board, but let Laura lead, really lead, on selected projects. It will make her feel important, which Woods like (as you know), and it will take some of the work off of your plate, which isn’t a bad thing, either. Trust me, two Woods are always better than one, if they can work together. Good luck!