Know Thyself: Slow down in order to speed up

February 22, 2014

Last night someone asked me, "What advice do you have for younger managers---or front-line employees that want to be managers?" After 25 years, the answer hasn't changed: Know thyself.


From my experience, the problem with many aspiring managers in their mid-20's to early-30's is they are trying too hard to prove themselves worthy. With projects being pushed at them and problems popping up on a regular basis, it's difficult to take time to learn the strengths and blind spots of one's own management style. And, if you don't know your own style, or where it lies in the spectrum of styles, then how can you possibly know how or when to adjust for maximum success?


My advice to young managers is "slow down." Yes, you couldn't wait to graduate high school, and if you went to college, you pushed through to graduation. But being a student does not stop there. For successful people, it doesn’t stop at all. Anyone who's successful knows the value of being a lifelong learner.


So slow down, and become a student again, and the first place to start is studying yourself. Spend time looking into the different ways people perceive and process information ... the different ways people make decisions, and look at where you fit in these spectrums. Know that there's no "right" or "wrong" in these styles---it's just the different ways people are wired. People are not wrong just because they see things different from you. If you think everyone should meet you on your turf, to see and do things your way, you will find yourself having a ineffective management experience.


What I just mentioned is the tip of the iceberg, so don’t stop there. The more you know about your preferences on the spectrums of cognitive style, behavioral style, and motivational style, the better you'll be able to manage yourself and others in all of those projects---and in the face of all those problems.


It’s counterintuitive, but the best way to speed up is to slow down.



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