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.