Sophie Johnson writes:

(now get lost, the lot of you)

Several years ago, when I was running ambitiously up my chosen career path, I nagged a wonderful HR specialist in the company I then worked for to let me be assessed for leadership potential.

I wasn’t doing so badly, as I was Deputy Creative Director and Group Head at the time, but I still wanted More, More Power, NOW, all of the time, why are you making me wait, m-wa-ha-ha-haaaaaa!!!!

Now, at the time, I had the misconception that ALL leaders had to be drivers (in case you are not familiar with the 4 personality types that you can get lumped into, they are: Expressive, Amiable, Analytical and Driver).

People are often a bit scared of drivers, so they usually do their bidding. That’s one way of getting things done and being a leader, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, I filled in the screening questionnaire on my own behalf, and – perhaps not consciously, more in a deluded sort of a way – answered the questions in such a way that my predominant style came out as driver.

And was very upset when my team at the time smirked and made subtle comments like, ‘Perhaps you adopt a different style at home to when you’re at work?’

We got together as a group to have our results announced, and I was horrified when I was put smack in the middle of the Amiable quadrant, seemingly labeled as an Amiable Amiable, not even an expressive amiable or an amiable with a driving licence.

I did – most unamiably – protest at the time, and for several years since was quite miffed about what I thought was a misconception of me. However, several years have elapsed and I have learned quite a few things since then.

Now it’s time for me to embrace my amiability with pride, for the following reasons:

  1. Getting along with people is actually quite good. Being approachable can make other people’s lives easier. If they have to give you feedback or ask you to do some work, it does actually make the whole transaction a lot more pleasurable and productive if you don’t tell them to F off, or just get generally angry.
  2. Creativity does not happen in a vacuum. Every member of the team can make the finished product better, and it would be a shame if you didn’t allow them to do so. Having an open discussion with the whole team on a project, without getting your *rse in your hand and storming out, can be massively productive.
  3. There is a misconception that if you’re amiable then you’re weak, you don’t have strong opinions and people can walk all over you. That’s one way to see it. The other way is that you actually want to listen to other opinions and consider them, because other people have valid opinions, too, and if they don’t agree with you, there might be a really good reason for it.
  4. Amiable people save fights for when they’re really necessary. In other words, we can have a very long fuse but by God, get out of the way if we reach the end of it. If we really believe in something, we will fight for it. We just don’t like fights unless they’re really necessary. Some things are not that important in the grand scheme of things. It is possible to compromise sometimes and still get excellent results. Being flexible can be a really positive thing.
  5. You get more people to take their coats off if you shine like the sun at them than if you blow cold air at them. I don’t encourage people to strip around me (usually) but I’m sure you’re familiar with the metaphor.
  6. We need all types of people to make the world go round. An expressive will leap on to the table and argue with passion about a cause and is very entertaining. A driver will often be an expert on a subject and you need their knowledge and input. They will tell you exactly where you stand, if you want to know. Analyticals will quietly watch the proceedings (while the amiables are hugging everybody and considering the feelings of their colleagues) and then impart a killer observation which usually proves invaluable to the success of the project.

So, it’s taken me years to pluck up the courage and accept myself for who I am, but – although you all knew years before me – at least I admit it now. In fact, I’m so freaking sweet I don’t take sugar in my tea, I rarely eat desserts and I only enjoy dark chocolate that’s 90% cocoa and tastes really, really bitter. Happy now?


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