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Leadership Skills Development - Understanding Ourselves and Others
by Peter McLean

Understanding yourself and what makes other people tick is essential for the high performing business team. Correctly applied, this understanding becomes your philosophy of business. Therefore, being able to reflect on it and apply it correctly is essential.

There are four key elements to consider in developing and constructing your own philosophy of business.

In the broad sense, your business philosophy is simply your understanding of human nature, human needs, your own drivers and how this understanding impacts the way your business is conducted.

You must apply this knowledge in a very practical way in your business. It has implications for every element of your business, because your business has to deal with people every day of the week.

Understand Human Nature
Basically, we are all interested predominantly in one person in the world. This person is the most important person in the world. Who is this person - our self, of course. We love talking about what we do. We are all, for the most part, self-interested in our interactions with the world around us.

Understanding this aspect of human nature is critical in life and in business. Others are interested in what I have to say or what I may have to offer only in as much as it serves their purposes or gives them something that they want.

This means then that, rather than telling people about the product or services we might have to offer, we should be focusing on listening to them and what they need, and we thereby help them resolve the problems that they have identified and need to overcome.

Understanding human nature demands that we must always be in listening mode. This is one of the priceless qualities of good leadership, good business and a good life. We must learn to listen attentively and genuinely.

Understand Human Needs
Dr William Glasser, in his work, talks about the five basic human needs that require satisfaction. They are the need for survival, the need for love and belonging, the need for fun, the need for freedom and the need for power and control.

As leaders in business, it is incumbent on us to understand the needs of the people around us, factor them into our thinking and manage them throughout all our activities.

In the successful business, we achieve everything with and through others around us. Therefore, building a business culture that is "need satisfying" for all the people in it and for those who interact with it is crucial for success.

It creates an innovative environment and a dedicated and committed group of people that willingly put in the effort that ensures your business objectives are met.

Understand Your Own Drivers
Knowing your own predominant personal drivers is critical for the high performing business person. Knowing and understanding what makes you tick, what your strengths are and what excites you are critical in getting the best out of yourself and the people around you.

Being able to talk openly about our own strengths enables us to play to them and manage our weaknesses. Working with and through others means that we become aware of the wonderful strengths of the people around us and encourage them to play to their strengths as well.

Together, this creates a leadership team that delivers high performing results, enables people to identify and manage areas of risk, and enhances your problem solving/conflict resolution skills.

Never Stop Trying to Understand Yourself and Other People
Understanding human nature, human needs and your own drivers is an ongoing journey of learning and applied knowledge.

Reading books on the subject, for example Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" or "How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling" by Frank Bettger, can help you gain important insights into human nature.

William Glassser's "Choice Theory" or Nohria and Lawrence's book "Driven" help us gain an understanding of the basic human needs that we all have.

Observe the people around you and adopt a listening mindset.

Knowing yourself, your own strengths and tendencies and preferences is critical in running a successful business. There is a wide range of psychometric instruments available that can help you gain emotional intelligence in business.

Having a practical, working knowledge of these facets of the human condition is your business philosophy. Knowing what it is and being able to share it with others is invaluable in running a highly successful business that is attuned to the needs of people.

About the Author

Peter McLean is a highly experienced Coach, Senior Manager, Consultant, Business Owner and Company Director. He successfully coaches top Executives in some of Australia's leading multi-national companies. Peter works extensively in the Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit sectors, delivering outstanding results for his clients. To learn more, please visit the Essential Business Coach web site!


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