I Tried to be Someone Else and Failed as a Leader Because of it
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
I thought I had to be a certain type of person to be a successful leader.
About 25 years ago, when I moved into my first management role, I had the opportunity to complete a DiSC assessment. When they described a D type, I felt like that was what I had to be as a leader. I thought that all leaders had to be direct and results-driven, and well, not really. I don’t really know how to explain it, that dominant style was just what I thought leaders had to be. All the leaders I had experienced had an “I’ll tell you what to do, you do it, or I fire you” management style. When I first completed the DiSC assessment all those years ago, it was on paper and I was able to answer the questions in a way that would drive out that D style.
When I left the corporate environment and started Botree, I missed having those resources around me and decided to take the DiSC assessment. When I did the test, I got the result of “I”, which is the influence style. I was shocked. I remember calling the company and telling them that my results were wrong. So I did it again. Same results. Then I did the Wiley DiSC Assessment. Still an I.
That’s when it hit me. Reading all the information about the I style, it all started to make sense to me. I remember thinking “Oh my goodness, I’ve always been this person.” I mean, there’s no hard evidence about it, but I do believe that is the reason I struggled with leading a team for a long time in my early years. I was trying to lead in a way that didn’t come naturally to me. It wasn’t authentic. I look back and I think I was a bit of a fraud of a manager because I wasn’t being me.
Once I came to terms with my “I” style, I was able to learn skills to help me lead a team while still being “me”. Now that I am comfortable in my own skin, I can see the value I bring as a leader and accept the things that don’t come naturally to me. As an “I” style leader, I care a lot about people. It’s my greatest strength, and probably my biggest weakness as well. By trying to be something that wasn’t inherent to me, I was constantly pulling myself and exhausting myself to fit somewhere that I wasn’t meant to be. I couldn’t be the best version of myself, because I wasn’t even being myself to begin with.
It doesn't necessarily matter what your type is. I think a lot of people think a certain way or a certain style is better suited than others for leadership. That’s not the case. We are all a mixture of all the DiSC styles and each style brings its own benefits to a team. Having that understanding of your authentic self, and being comfortable with it, makes you a better leader. Knowing where your limitations are, what you’re passionate about, helps. Knowing my authentic leadership style has allowed me to show up in a really optimal way for my clients and my team.