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Know thyself (and others!) – The first step in becoming a great leader

#HRLADYSHIP Travel Heather Gupta • December 6, 2016
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You know you’re the kind of person who just likes to get things done. You make lists, you tick them off, and you love it when a project is completed. Isn’t that how everyone is? Don’t we all love to feel that sense of “achievement” and don’t all successful leaders wake up early in the morning to tackle their “to do” lists?

Actually, no. If you’re a go getting, list maker, you might find yourself looking at a sea of blank faces when you try to make everyone work like that.

We all know that people are different. Our siblings, friends, family and co-workers have different preferences for food, fashion and fun. Some love to read, others hate to pick up a book. Some are loud, some are quiet. Many love to surround themselves with their furry friends, others are terrified of dogs and cats. Some people sulk for days when they’re upset, other people get angry and then it’s business as usual.

When it comes to work, however, we tend to forget that people are different. Have you ever wondered why some people in your team get angry when challenged and others just go quiet? Or why some people like to make those long long lists and others hate it? Why some seem to be terribly organized, and on time for everything, and others just seem to be in a state of permanent chaos?

The key to managing different people really well is to know how they work best, and adapt your style to get the best out of them. No, that doesn’t mean that you start to behave like a chameleon, forever changing and presenting different faces, but the key is to adapt, to get the best results in communicating with and managing others.

To understand how to do this, you first need to know yourself. Take some time to think about the kind of person you are. Do you like things to happen quickly? Do you like to spend time analysing and poring over details before you start anything? Do you like to be friendly and chatty at work or do you prefer to work quietly with minimum fuss. Do you get angry easily? Or are you a sulker? Are you great with details, or better with the big picture?

If you’re a super sociable, chatty person, you might freak an introverted person out with too many “personal questions” (which seem completely innocuous to you). Some people have a need for more personal space, so if you throw your arms around them when you greet them in the morning (cos you’re a touchy feely kind of person) you might make them super uncomfortable. If you expect a really “big picture” person to be great with details, then you may be disappointed.

So how do you really understand what makes you (and others) tick?

Well, it starts with being observant. Watch how other people react in similar situations. Think about why people around you in the office are known for being different “types”. Think about how you personally react to pressure, how you like to work best, how and when you’re most efficient. And then be mindful of how you interact with others.

There are a number of different assessments and “tests” which can also help shed light on your “personality”, your preferred learning style and even the kind of role you’d be best suited for. If you’re interested in knowing more about yourself and your behavioral preferences, come chat with me!

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