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Is Boris a first language Responder™?

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

A very interesting article by Matthew Flinders popped in to my inbox yesterday morning, via the Conversation’s excellent daily news briefing.

The central point being that the PM has a strong need to be loved, so much so that it’s making it difficult for him to front up to the British people about what Christmas will actually look like this year. He needs to be loved too much to be honest about bad news.

And, more generally, finds it tough to make unpopular decisions.

Which is a problem, because, as Mr Flinders puts it so succinctly: “One of the paradoxes of a healthy democracy is that politicians will on some occasions be forced to take unpopular decisions.”

For ‘politicians’, read ‘leaders’. Leaders in any environment need to be prepared, on occasion, to take unpopular decisions. This is something that I’ve had to face up to in my own life and leadership. And while most of us, by definition, will never be PM, a great many of us are leaders in one sphere or another.

I am a first language Responder*.

Those of us with Responder high in our Life Languages™ profile will have a very natural desire to please people. This is not, in itself, unhealthy. However, it can cause leaders to trip up, if not acknowledged.

As ever, self-awareness is key. Knowing that this is an inbuilt desire – passion, even – allows us to acknowledge it, and realise when it’s not helping us (e.g. when we have to make unpopular decisions, like cancelling Christmas).

It’s a strength, as well. A desire to please means that difficult decisions can be communicated with genuine compassion, because the bearer of bad news truthfully doesn’t want their hearers to hear what he or she is about to say. And so when they do say it, the regret that they communicate will be sincere.

Perhaps Boris is a first language Responder too. Whether he is or not, I hope that he’s aware of his desire to please, and the strengths and pitfalls that can bring.

Andrew Quinn, Nov 2020

* Responder is one of the seven communication styles defined by Fred and Anna Kendall in the Kendall Life Languages Profile™. The other six are Influencer, Mover, Doer, Shaper, Producer and Contemplator. See here for more information.

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