Ten years ago I had a false start in learning dialogue skills.  It was one of several false starts, in fact! In this particular instance, I read a book on technical leadership.  Unlike the books I now recommend, this older book was based more on opinion than research. It seemed to be telling me that, if I wanted to lead technical teams, I needed to become a very different kind of person.  I was offended by the suggestion that I needed to radically change.  What was wrong with me as I was!  As besides, any kind of “personality transplant” seemed most unlikely to succeed.  So for years I abandoned all hope of becoming a technical leader.

Finally, I discovered the truth. There is no ideal personality for leadership. Instead, successful leaders are true to themselves.  They are real.

In their well-researched book, “Why Should Anyone Be Led By You“, Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones show that successful leadership is based on a simple principle:

Be yourself — more — with skill.

You remain always as the real authentic “you”, while learning skills to interact more successfully with others.  Don’t apply those skills according to a formula; apply them in ways that work for you.

Like many books on workplace interaction, Goffee and Jones focus on people in defined leadership roles.  I think that’s a shame, because I have no doubt that their findings apply to every team member who wants to communicate.  That’s certainly been the case for me. Since I started focussing on learning skills, while still being myself, I’ve had far more success dealing with people.  And more fun too.

One comment on “Be Real

  • I suspect leaders are like teachers – is an inborn talent. You cannot really teach a person to teach anymore than you can teach a person to be a leader. Secret – I taught for 45 years but I have never been to teachers training college with one exception: I did a 9-month course in Hobart on teaching principles(1969) and the letter I got said I had passed the teaching requirements for Tasmania. Letterhead paper, too! Useful document. During that course I wrote, while at army cadet camp, a book on teaching music in the primary school – a topic not related to teaching Form 7 English.

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