Leadership 101: Know Thyself

As a leader one of the foundational aspects of working with others is knowing yourself.

Recently I was involved in a situation where I had to make a decision that was fraught with complications and a nebulous outcome based on many factors. The guiding principle of my decision was based on the Sun Tzu proverb that in order to address the challenges presented before you, you first have to have studied yourself. When you know how you would likely act based on your strengths and personal weaknesses, you have insight into what is likely to happen or how you might impact a particular outcome.

Because I knew my strengths and weaknesses, I could see that one course of action would take me down a road that in the long run I would be miserable with. The other path was a more difficult decision, but in the end, I knew I would be happier. So knowing myself helped me chart my course.

Tools to get you started

The best tools I have come across to help leaders learn about themselves is the combination of the DISC, Values, and Attribute Indexes. Each of these tools provides a glimpse into one’s behaviors, motivators, and natural talents for processing different kinds of information. When a leader allows themselves the gift of objective insights it can often be painful to see what others see, but ultimately information provides an opportunity to know oneself fully, and therefore be a more effective leader.

Here’s an example of how behavior profiles can help a leader navigate a tough situation.

How does it work in real life?

We worked with an executive who was the COO of a large organization. Their senior leadership role had evolved over time as the organization grew, and now required the COO to have strengths in policies and procedures, attention to detail, stability, routine, and enforcing standardization in company operations.  The skills necessary for this kind of COO position were fundamentally counter to this executive’s behavioral style and natural strengths.  This leader was a gifted driver of new business, loved the chase, excelled at thinking outside the box, and was self-motivated and strong enough to fight through obstacles.  The very qualities that had helped the organization grow, were now the traits counter productive to a COO role for a large stable organization that needed to implement standardization and procedures in operations.  Initially when a role change was discussed this leader was stuck in not wanting to let go, but over time they realized the organization needed their strengths in business development and growing a sales department.  The tools of the DISC, Values, and Attribute Indexes allowed an open and honest conversation about the leader’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of their personal blind spot, so self-awareness could replace ego and fear of change.

Do you know thyself?

Do you know yourself? Have your blind spots been brought to your attention? Are you maximizing your strengths to be as effective as possible in your leadership role? Have you taken a behavior profile and are you maximizing the tools available to better know yourself? Take a complementary DISC and meet with a Coach for a debrief on your leadership strengths and weaknesses.

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