Why Leaders Need to Really Know Themselves


I think one of the crucial aspects of The Art of Leadership – there’s many elements to it, but I think one thing that is perhaps too often forgotten –  is that if you want to lead others you really have to know yourself. You have to understand the ways in which you’re like other people, and in the ways you’re different from other people. So, if you’re managing them, if you’re leading them, if you’re resolving conflicts, if you’re seeing where energy needs to be directed or redirected, you can take into account what’s true about you.

For instance, some people love to work right up against a deadline. They love that adrenaline, they love that crunch, they feel like that’s when ideas flow. Those are the sprinters. And then there are marathoners who prefer to work well in advance and do steady work over a long period, and they feel that’s how they’re creative and productive.

There’s no right way or wrong way, but if you have a sprinter leading a marathoner it’s going to be a lot of conflict. If you have a marathoner trying to hold a sprinter back or get a sprinter to start working too early, there’s going to be a lot of frustration. The more a leader can recognize the particular ways he or she sees the world then the better able he or she is going to be able to take into account those differences, have forbearance for others, and be able to get the best work out of others.   

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