Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Leader, Know Thyself

I recently had a new friend take me through my Birkman report - this was the second time in the past 6 months that I have had this done. I took the inventory about three years ago through a friend who owns Compass Settings. This time, the owner of Strategic Positioning took me through the report, and it just made me smile to realize how closely the report told me who I really am.

For example: in the area of Esteem, the report told me that I tend to deal with others in an open manner, balanced with an insight into their feelings (that is very true - sometimes that keeps me from being more forthright when needed). The report also told me that in this area, I need the respect of key individuals in my life - and that they are genuinely aware of my feelings (again, very true - so much so that I will even ask for it at times). The report finally told me that when I do feel under-appreciated, I will tend to be shy and/or embarassed (again, very true, which seems counterintuitive to the type of person I am, but that's what happens).

So the question I keep asking is how does this knowledge of self affect (read improve) my leadership? Almost all of the literature in leadership discusses that the better the leader knows themself, the more authentic and open they can be with others...the more the leader is comfortable with their own leadership style, the easier it becomes for them to act...the better one understands what makes him or her the person they are, the more empathy they can have for those they lead...the more I know myself, the easier it is to put myself in situations to be at my best when called upon to lead.

One final example: in the area of Acceptance, my most effective behavior by far is being friendly and easy to know with a strong outgoing manner (yes, that is what most people would say about me). On the flip side, I NEED time alone or time with a few people to renew and energize (nothing better than a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee, and good book, and no one else around). Finally, the profile tells me that I can become impatient with group interaction and will tend to withdraw from time to time (you would be surprised how often I have to go and find a cup of coffee during a meeting).

SO - do you know yourself? When was the last time you took a significant inventory that told you who you really were? Are you ready to hear the good, bad and ugly about yourself (which is really just a picture of who you are)? And are you willing to sit down with someone who can help you develop into a better leader throug the use of this type of tool? If so, check out either of the two organizations above or google Birkman, Myers-Briggs, DISC, or other inventories of which you might be aware. And get ready to learn and grow!

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