How to balance soft skills with firm assertive and demanding?
For the past 2 years I have been part of a corporate training program that takes effective managers and equips us with soft skills to help us navigate our corporate culture which is somewhat unique. I joined this organization 5 years ago not realizing it was a bit cult like and the focus on everyone being quiet and compliant wasn't apparent to me at the time. I was identified as needing training because my team felt I was too bold, outspoken and brash. I have a background in project management and implementation, being bold and outspoken is how I get things done. I was praised for my effectiveness and it was also something I received kudos on at every other job I have had.
This training focused on being restrained, subservient (when executives decide something, you are not to question it) and quite passive. This methodology contradicts my natural personality and frankly it's bad for the company. Poor business decisions are made daily and you are not allowed to question them.
Needless to say, I am looking for a new role and the feedback I received after 2 interviews was that I am too passive, too quiet and not aggressive enough to be an effective project leader. This was so shocking to me until I reviewed with a former colleague who said the training program had "brainwashed" me into not being me or being a good PM.
I find value in some aspects of the coaching such as active listening and how to alter my approach to specific people based on their motivation. With that in mind, I apparently have become a lamb when I need to be a lion!
Any tips for finding the right balance in interviews to show I still have my great white hunting instincts even though I swim in a goldfish pond right now?