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I help FP&A professionals get their career on the fast track with leveraged learning.

Leadership Tips from Political Observations

A recent article in Inc., “What You Can Learn From Romney’s Inauthenticity” paints an interesting picture of the importance of people skills to leaders of all types.

Whether you are a leader in politics or business, the lesson is the same.  Lacking people skills will hurt you as a leader.  There is no way around that truth.  The article’s author, John Baldoni, gives a few simple points to learn from Romney’s shortcomings.  They are:

1. Shift the focus from you to others.

2. Let down your guard.

3. Roll with the punches.

4. Stand tall.

5. Act the part.

It’s a good, concise article, so I won’t paraphrase it here.  I encourage you to read the entire article.

In stark contrast to Romney, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been lauded for his leadership style and was practically begged to run for President by Republican Party leaders and others.  He has captured so much public attention, Oprah Winfrey recently interviewed him to find out more about him and his leadership style.  According to Oprah’s own website, “Oprah rarely interviews politicians, but she makes an exception for Governor Christie because she believes he is a leader willing to go beyond sound bites and canned responses.”

There are many measures of leadership, and many personality tests aimed at identifying a person’s “type” and fit for different types of jobs.  The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the best known personality tests and many people would agree that someone whose test results indicated a MBTI type of ENFJ (Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) might make a good manager or leader of people.  The Myers & Briggs Foundation website describes the ENFJ type as follows:

“Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership (emphasis added).”

If you are not a natural ENFJ, according to the MBTI, it does not mean you can’t be a good leader.  What it does mean is that you are not wired by mother nature to do it naturally without working at it.  Some of the best known, and most effective leaders, were not born leaders.  Many of them had to work very hard to acquire the skills to be as good as they were at leading, whether they led individuals in a business, political constituents or maybe even just their own family.

At the end of the day, we can all choose to improve our people skills and leadership capabilities.  First, we must recognize our strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly.  There is plenty of information and training available in the areas of people skills and leadership, so if you decide to improve in these areas it will just be a matter of deciding to do it, and then doing it.

Create your own leadership development plan, or enlist some help to create that plan.  Either way, if you decide to be a leader, do it well.