Do you shoot from the hip or gather insight until the last possible moment? Does stress make you softer or tougher? When you know your weaknesses, you can hire people around you, who are strong where you are weak. The purpose of management is to make individual weaknesses irrelevant.
Successful leadership starts by knowing yourself. Really understanding who you are, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and how you operate in various situations.
It sounds easy, but knowing yourself is really, really difficult, because in those really tough moments, you typically don’t have time and concentration to observe yourself. But you should observe yourself, and you should also ask others to tell you what you are like. It can be painful, but it’s very, very useful.
In terms of knowing yourself, a simple thing you need to know is how you learn. Do you learn in group or on your own? Do you learn by listening and discussing, or do you learn by seeing and reading?
I’m a very visual person myself, and I learn by reading stuff. I love documents being sent to me. If you come to me with a business proposal and just talk to me, I may not get it. If you show it to me visually and I can read it myself, I get it much faster. People are different in this way, and you need to know how you make decisions.
Are you a quick decision maker or a slow one? Some people are afraid of making decisions alone, others are afraid of making them in a group. You must understand how you make decisions.
Then importantly, you must know how you behave under stress. When things are tough, and every start up company and successful business have had tough times. When they are tough, how do you change? Do you go hide in a place and withdraw, or do you engage? Do you go faster or slower? How does your behavior change?
When you know these things, you can start managing yourself. You can set goals for yourself, you can agree with yourself on things you’re going to improve, and you can agree on other items where you say, “I’ll just be the way I am, and I’ll accept myself with those weaknesses or that behavior.” Because you can then use this information to build a team around you and hire the people you need to offset the weaknesses you have.
It has been said that the purpose of management is to make individual weaknesses irrelevant. Because we all have weaknesses, and if we know them, we can hire people who have strengths in those areas.
All of this comes from knowing yourself, and it takes years to really deeply understand yourself. Many people, perhaps, never get there, but you should spend time every day, every week, every month on understanding yourself a little bit better, so you can manage yourself and manage your relationships to other people.