Have you ever had a thought before that seems so true only to find out later that you were wrong? Have you ever had a perception before that you held so true only to realize that your perception is just half of the equation? Have you ever believed and practiced something for a long time only to learn later that such belief and practice may not necessarily be the best practice for all situations?
Well, had all those wrong notions, beliefs, and practices. But I am thankful that those were shattered by the truth about nature, truth about the human race, and truth about life!
First example, I thought I was ugly; but I found out later that (ahem) I can look good in my own way. Second, I saw people from the big cities and big schools as the only ones who are knowledgeable, skilled, and gifted; but I learned the truth that genius has no race and you can be knowledgeable, skilled, and gifted regardless of where you came from. Third, I thought that leaders must always speak powerfully and directly (often times, even harsh) so people will follow them; but I was awakened by the truth that real power and influence as a leader comes from appropriate communication and leadership style that must adjust and adapt depending on the circumstances, yet still remaining true to your values and morals.
Let’s zoom in to that third one – on leadership and communication style. To adjust and adapt accordingly is a tall order for leaders. This can be an overwhelming command for you and for me. This is challenging because your communication style may not necessarily be the other person’s communication style. Your preferred communication style may not necessarily be what is being used by other people when they communicate with you.
But here’s the good news: knowing that there are other styles that may be more appropriate in certain situations and being aware of our tendencies can help to adjust and adapt accordingly so we can better further the common good or the goal of the organization.
My model of leadership as a little boy came from men-in-uniform (those I saw on TV, movies, and sometimes, in the community). From my limited observation of them, I had the notion that as a leader, I should be direct, frank, straightforward, quick, and tough. That’s what I saw in those leaders. As a result, that’s what I did when I was given opportunities to hold leadership positions in various organizations. It was effective – but not always!
Later in life, while studying accountancy and then later on work as an auditor and accountant, I became more analytical in my communication style. I wanted to communicate in a precise, exact, and logical manner. It has to follow a certain flow and organization. It was so effective – but not always!
Then I shifted careers – from accounting to training and speaking. In 2015, I was invited to speak to the men and women of the 2nd Signal Battalion of the Philippine Army in Tanay, Rizal. Having the police and military as one of my first models of leadership as a child, I was so excited. I gave two talks that day. I shared great content with them, but they shared a greater lesson to me.
As I observed them interact with their families (wife and children) and their colleagues who have become their friends, and as I listened to their stories about life, I saw them in a different light. They looked so tough on the outside, but I was touched by how they expressed what’s on the inside. That day, I learned that those tough men can be approachable, sincere, and gentle. In that chosen context, they showed their human hearts. It firmed up the lesson I learned before I left my corporate job: just like in developing your leadership style, you need to grow in your communication styles and learn to adjust and adapt accordingly depending on the circumstances.
I used to be so direct in my communication style. I later became so analytical. Today, I am more of the supportive style. And because of my job as a speaker and trainer, I am developing my initiating communication style – which is being more sociable, enthusiastic, energetic, spontaneous, and fun-loving.
I do not know your communication style. I do not know your tendencies. But this, I know, we have to understand that our communication style may be so effective but not always. Therefore, we have to adjust and adapt accordingly depending on the circumstances.
It is time to shatter that wrong notion. It is time to widen that limited perception. It is time to shift those styles to steer you through several struggles and sail you to sustained success.
(Chris Dao-anis, CPA, DTM is a leadership trainer, inspirational speaker, and an author of 4 books including ‘SPEAK: How to Craft and Deliver a Speech or Presentation with Competence and Confidence’. You may get your copy of this book at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, 001 Yangco Street, Baguio City or at Soledad Religious Store, Porta Vaga Mall, Baguio City. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chrisdaoanis.)