|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
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KNOW YOURSELF TO LEAD OTHERS
— Benjamin Franklin
"Know thyself" is a well-known motto attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and it serves as an essential basis for growth. Understanding yourself and those around you will help you effectively manage your employees, which will ultimately help you grow your business.
Organizations, regardless of their level of success, depend on the founders or owners to be very honest to themselves about their strengths and weaknesses. There is a saying "that children and employees know a lot more about their parents and bosses, then they know about their children and employees." We all have our strengths and weaknesses and the most successful people are those that build on their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses.
Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive says "The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all of the available strengths — the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one's own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance" (See chapter 4).
I once read a great book by Dr. Miriam Adahan called Living with Difficult People — Including Yourself. The implication of the title is correct; in many cases we see ourselves doing everything right, and it's the other person that needs to change. That's how the other person sees it too. Getting to know yourself requires serious thought and effective tools.
One of the most widely used evaluations is aptitude testing. Aptitude refers to our innate personality, which usually doesn't change much over our lifetime. We all have behaviors and attitudes that we must continuously improve on, but our inborn aptitude is who we are. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a valuable tool for assessing and understanding our inborn personality — why we do the things we do, why certain tasks are so easy for us while others are so difficult, and why we so easily connect with those similar to ourselves and are irritated by those who are not.
I recently read an article from Prof. Adam Grant, where he disagrees with the science behind the Myers-Briggs theory and calls it "mesearch instead of research". I added a chapter at the end adding my own positive experience with the MBTI and my "mesearch". In addition, one should never rely on one mode of evaluation rather using multitudes of techniques and tools, many that I explain in detail in the following chapters.
Let's try a simple test: Take a pen and paper and sign your name. Now switch hands and sign again. Most people say they can't, and the ones who try find it very awkward. Our inborn personality, our aptitude, is the dominant hand that writes naturally.
This dominant personality is called our aptitude. The MBTI measures this aptitude based on four sets of opposite polarities, and it assigns a letter to each extreme. There are sixteen different possible combinations, and most everyone falls into one of these sixteen types.
The polarities are:
Extrovert (E) vs. Introvert (I), which determines where a person derives their energy from (e.g., are you more comfortable being with people (E), or would you rather have quiet time (I)?)
Sensing (S) vs. iNtuition (N), which looks at how people take in information and what we trust more (e.g., do you trust more your five senses (S), or do you trust more your intuition or "6 sense"?)
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F), which is how we make our decisions. (e.g., to make a decision) do you use logic (T), or do you use feelings, your own or others, to make your decision (F)?.
Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P), which describes how we might organize our life (e.g., are you naturally organized and enjoy schedules (J), or do you enjoy being more flexible and open ended with as many options as possible (P)?)
The Judging vs. Perceiving personalities are also used to describe our dominance as apparent to others. So, if you are more Judging, and your decision-making process is more visible, then you tend towards the J polarity, which is being organized. If people instead see more of how you take in information, then you tend towards the polarity of P, which is flexibility.
I'll give you an example of one set of polarities: Let's say two people go to a wedding. After a while, one says to the other, "It's so noisy. I'm ready to go home," while the other says, "Where are we running? I'm just starting to enjoy myself."
What's the difference between these two people?
When I ask this question at seminars, most people answer that one is a "schmoozer" and the other is antisocial. But those are behaviors, not inborn aptitudes. What it boils down to is that one is an introvert (represented by an I on the MBTI) while the other is an extravert (or E). The most important difference between the two is how and where they get their energy. Extraverts are energized by being with many people, while introverts lose energy when they find themselves in a crowd, and they feel the need to retreat to a quiet place to reenergize. E's usually have many friends but not necessarily deep friendships, while the I's have lesser friends but more deep relationships.
In the book Please Understand Me Dr. David Keirsey (1921–2013), a noted Professor and Psychologist, has clustered the sixteen types of the MBTI into four basic temperaments: the artisan, the guardian, the rational, and the idealist. Each temperament has its own unique qualities and shortcomings, strengths and challenges. The four temperaments spring from an interaction of the two basic dimensions of human behavior: our communication and our action, our words and our deeds — or simply, what we say and what we do.
What We Say:
People naturally talk about what interests them. Some talk about concrete facts and figures, what has to be done, and how to do it. They talk about news, weather, sports, family, and their job. Others talk about abstract ideas: their hopes and dreams, their thoughts, and their philosophies. Obviously, most people talk about both. But the question is what do they enjoy? What do they feel comfortable talking about primarily?
What We Do:
The next question is how we go about our business: Some people do what gets results. They work as efficiently as possible to get to where they need to go. Others act primarily based on what's good for everyone, not necessarily putting themselves above anyone else. If it's not fair to others, they don't do it. They try to do the right thing, as agreed upon by a civil and polite society. These two customs can overlap, and most people act both ways at one time or other. But the question is, what do you do most of the time? What is your natural instinct?
What We Are:
According to Keirsey, you will find yourself in a specific corner of the chart based on what you talk about and what you tend to do. If you talk hard facts and play fair with others, you're a Guardian. If you talk hard facts and go for the goal, you're an Artisan. If you enjoy talking about ideas and then going through with them, no matter the cost, you're a Rational. And if you talk ideas and then play fair, you're an Idealist.
Guardians, or SJs, are the pillars of society.
They mostly speak about their duties.
They have a natural talent for managing goods and services.
They obey the laws and follow the rules.
They pride themselves on being hard-working and dependable.
They are cautious about change, and meticulous about schedules.
They use their skills to help others. They keep things running smoothly in their family life, business life, and in their communities as well.
They trust authority, join groups, and seek security — or provide it.
They make stabilizing leaders who tend to be concerned with instituting rules and making sure everyone follows them. Many become supervisors, inspectors, or protectors. They also make responsible parents and loyal mates.
Artisans, or SPs, love working with their hands, and they seem right at home with tools, instruments, and vehicles of all kinds. They "Just do it."
They want to be where the action is. They constantly seek out pleasure and stimulation, and feel that anything that is not pleasurable or stimulating is a waste of time.
They speak mostly about what they see in front of them and are mostly focused on the here and now.
They pride themselves on being bold, new, and spontaneous. They don't want to be tied down or confined.
They possess the ability to excel in the arts, as well as in the art of making deals, and the art of excelling in the political arena.
They are extremely competitive. They will do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals, even if they have to bend the rules or redefine them.
They make good, trouble-shooting leaders who tend to go with the flow of the moment and are not too particular with creating or following rules. Many become performers, composers, or promoters.
Idealists, or NFs, try to reach their hopes and dreams without compromising their ethics.
They speak mostly of their ideas and what they hope for.
They try to avoid conflict and confrontation. Many actively take a role in which they can convince others to do the same, and they create harmonious, cooperative relationships.
They are passionately concerned about personal growth and are naturally drawn to working with people for the good of all. They love to help others find their way in life.
They believe the best way to reach goals is through meaningful cooperation and being one's best possible self.
They are highly ethical and won't compromise themselves at all, and they hope for the same in others. When they do compromise their ethics, they are especially disappointed in themselves.
Idealists make nurturing parents and inspirational leaders who tend to focus on how their work is changing the world, and having people buy into the mission is extremely important. Many also become teachers, counselors, or healers.
Rational's, or NTs, are problem solvers.
They speak of problems that intrigue them and of issues they have with the complex systems that make up the world around us. They are particularly interested in the abstract concepts that underlie all systems.
They try to figure things out and make them better, or, if need be, get around them.
They act as effectively as possible to accomplish their goals, often ignoring rules, conventions, and everyone else if they have to.
They are independent, strong-willed, and logical, but because of their absorbed concentration on the matter at hand, may be seen as cold and distant by others.
They value intelligence above all else, and they pride themselves on their ingenuity.
They don't care about being politically correct or about customary procedures they're supposed to follow. What matters is that they must accomplish their goals, and they work tirelessly on any project they set their mind to.
Their levelheadedness and eye-on-the-prize mentality makes them very effective, strategic leaders who are concerned with making change happen, even at the cost of stepping on some of those that don't go along. Many become CEOs, inventors, or field marshals.
This is just a brief overview of the four basic temperaments to give you a very basic idea of the reasons behind the different behaviors we tend to observe in people. Humans are very complex, however, so four archetypes are not enough to capture the diversity of human behavior. These four temperaments are a good starting point for understanding what leadership skills you inherently possess so that you can build on them and become a successful manager.
Can aptitude be good or bad? It's neither. It's who we are. We may encounter circumstances where we practice one over the other. For example, as a boss we might need to fire people, even though by nature we are soft hearted. But there is no real need to change who we are. Though many times, people have a very hard time changing their nature. There are bosses that cannot fire people even though they know it's the right thing. Another example might be if we are not that organized but understand that in different situations like organizing a family or business event, its important to be well planned and well organized. I've suggested to many leaders that are not by nature organized to just hire the most competent and organized assistant and delegate to them those tasks that require structure and order.
Then there are problems that can result from different aptitudes that can be irritating to the other. We look at other personalities and can't understand them. For example, the I's feel that the E's are too talkative, too intrusive, and are poor listeners. (An Introvert that I knew once said that the Extrovert talks even when he doesn't have anything to say.) The E's think that the I's are too secretive, play very close to the vest and are the last to speak up. S's look at the N's as dreamers or pie in the sky types, while N's look at S's as very narrow minded and too literal. The T's might look at the F's as being overly sensitive and too emotional, while the F's see the T's as being cold and calculated without heart. Most probably the J's and the P's have the most problems. As the J's see the P's as sloppy, unorganized and unreliable while the P sees the J as rigid, too structured and inflexible.
In businesses and organizations, differences affect managers and employees alike.
One boss I coached would, at the end of each day, call in his managers as a group and socialize with them. He believed that he was building great relationships, but he didn't realize that the introverted managers in his team were drained by this. So it took him understanding his own aptitude for communication as well as that of others to alter his management style to a way that suits his entire team. Now he has learned to ask if they want to stay and schmooze instead of thrusting all of his people into social situations that make them uncomfortable.
By first understanding our own preferences and then understanding other people's preferences, we can ask them, for example, if they enjoy working with a lot of other people in an open space (which E's like), or if they prefer an enclosed space, (which I's prefer). As a leader, do you want your people to be practical and concrete, or do you enjoy them being big-picture and out-of-the-box thinkers (S's are more concrete while N's are more big- picture thinkers)? Are you more concerned with being liked or respected (F's like to be liked; T's want to be respected)? Does your work environment need to be highly organized, or do you tolerate some disorder (J's like order; P's will tolerate some messiness)?
Understanding others and ourselves goes a long way toward working with people and understanding how to utilize each person's strengths and abilities. The trick, according to Jim Collins in Good to Great, is "to put the right person in the right seat on the right bus." Making sure you understand the strengths of your people will allow you to help them be in the right place and achieve greater success.
Former General Electric Chairman and CEO, Jack Welch, named "Manager of the Century" by Fortune Magazine, had a very simple, yet clever model for evaluating his people. Welch, who was known for being a particularly brilliant leader when it came to developing talent, constantly raised the bar throughout his many years at the helm of the company. In order to continually improve on the quality of his people, he employed something that became known as his "A," "B," "C" model.
"A" Players are passionate individuals who execute successfully while living the values of the organization. These people represent the very best in any organization — which is why they get promoted more quickly than all others in a company.
"B" Players are those that live the values of the company but for some reason do not execute well. They might miss their sales number or fall short in other measurable ways. However, Welch felt strongly that anyone who lived the values of the company deserved another chance, so he often moved "B" players into different jobs or gave them new assignments.
"C" Players do not execute, and they do not live the values of the company. For "C's" the decision was easy for Welch. He would fire anyone who fit into this category. These are the people who often make up the bottom ten percent of any organization.
Since I never had the privilege of running a multinational company like General Electric, I rely on a different model that is quite useful in evaluating different leadership and management personalities. It is not as simple as Welch's "A," "B," "C," model, yet it has been proven to work on a grander scale for people at every level of any size organization. Kiersey in his bestselling book(s) Please Understand Me 1&2, defines the different types and their management styles.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Prosperous Leader"
Copyright © 2015 Jacob M. Engel.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
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