I have a friend in a leadership position for a major accounting firm. He has ascended the ranks at his company rapidly, he’s been promoted three times in as many years, and is on the fast track to make partner.
His rise within his company is due, in part, to his accounting skills—his extensive knowledge of tax law and his ability to anticipate new laws and changes to existing laws. This isn’t the reason he’s an effective leader though. And his climb hasn’t been a result of having schmoozed the right people or because he babysits his boss’ children.
He has succeeded as a leader because he’s politically competent. He networks across departments, partners with other team leaders within his organization, gains the trust of his clients outside the organization. He’s also a leader because of managerial competence. He has the ability to motivate his team, to develop those under him, and point where he can grant them a larger degree of autonomy.
He hasn’t maintained and excelled in leadership positions within his company because he’s a great guy and everyone likes him.
It should be noted, however, that my friend is smart and funny in his own way and a loyal, decent human being. That being said, he’s not exactly the kind of guy that lights up a room with a magnetic charisma that draws people to him. He’s been an amazing friend, but quite frankly, my friend is kind of boring.
The term “boring,” is of course, subjective, but when he talks about his work, my eyes tend to glaze over and I retreat into a happy place inside my head.
It’s clear when he speaks about it, through the glimpses I grab as I fade in and out during his work-related speeches, that he really knows his business and knows how to get the most out of those he works with.
My friend doesn’t have a larger-than-life personality; he’s not the type to fly off the handle, he’s not prone to angry outbursts or outward expressions of ecstatic joy (in public at least.) He can come off as kind of flat, or, boring. It’s quite possible that this ‘flat’ effect may also serve him well as a leader. He’s rational, fair and isn’t guided by emotion in his day-to-day life and is, apparently, an effective operating style in his role as a leader.
In some fields, being boring is not only acceptable; it might even be an asset.