We Are What We Read

Adrianne DuMond

When I read the recent research on this subject – the content we read shapes our leadership – it takes me to the Myers Briggs (MBTI) classifications. The MBTI premise is that while most of us (in some small portion) may possess many  of the types, there is one type that we prefer. And we especially use this type in times of stress or crisis. What if the preferred type isn’t all that’s needed as a leader/manager?

In leadership development, the theory goes that, for example, if you are a visionary you need to choose a nuts and bolt type of staff person, to balance the approach to managing. But what if the staff is small, or you don’t have that type on board. Then the question becomes, where do I go for that perspective to the job?

The research is telling us that just as our type forms behavior, what we choose to read can influence our actions and behavior as leaders/managers. For example, if staff sees you as always basing decisions on logic and facts, lacking patience, with a focus on detail, you might choose a book about managing people or leadership development, even though that subject might not interest you very much. Again, these skills are important to success, but might serve better if balanced by some stronger people skills.

For the visionary noted above, the staff may be frustrated by the lack of attention to details, the constant pursuit of new challenges. While all of these traits are critical to a leader’s/manager’s success with strategic planning, the choices he/she makes to balance these skills are critical. What this person chooses to read and study must help to focus on setting goals, holding staff accountable, and consistently appraising and rewarding good performance.

The message here is, if we know the minus side to our leadership, and reading is one way we learn, choose the books, articles, that shed light on what we need to do better as a leader/manager. After all, we are what we read, if we choose the right material to strengthen our skills.

By the way, if you like this subject, read about the visionary Steve Jobs selecting the nuts and bolts Tim Cook to succeed him. The book is ‘Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs’ by Yukari Iwatani Kane.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org