Know Thyself

“Effective leaders have an acute sense of their own strengths and weaknesses.  They know who they are – and who they are not.  They don’t try to be all things to all people.” 
   ~Gallup Management Journal

What a great statement about effective leadership.  It all begins with knowing one’s self.  That means truly, objectively, and critically knowing who you are.  It means knowing enough to know what you don’t know.  It means knowing who you are not, and never will be.  Leaders often feel some pressure to know all the answers, be everything to everybody.  Truly effective leaders know they cannot do that.  They have an understanding of their own weaknesses.  They do not pressure themselves to answer every issue.  That pressure leads to poor decisions and marginal leaders.  Be an effective leader, know yourself!



Do you know people who assume they are leaders?  Maybe they have the title, maybe they think people will follow them, maybe they just think they deserve to be the leader.  That is not how leadership works.  True leadership comes only through time tested trust and respect.  It is also often preceded by a willingness to serve.  Servanthood is a building block of leadership.  That is the whole basis of the “servant leader” concept.  Those not willing to serve others may think they can skip that step on the road to leadership.  But great leaders always have a servant heart.  Consider this…

“The willingness to serve always precedes the opportunity to lead.”

-             ~  Charlie Featherston



Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.         ~ Gen. George S. Patton 

I did not know that Patton said this but it is a favorite concept of mine.  I have always enjoyed finding new, improved and more efficient ways to get things done.  I especially don’t like being confined by how things have been done in the past.  So I find this quote especially on point for me.  It is how I have preferred to be managed over the years and it is how I like to lead people as well.  People need to understand why they are being asked to do something.  So as leaders we should provide them the desired result upfront and let them determine the best way to get there.  If they do not get there at all, then you have another leadership opportunity.  But often they may find ways to get there that you have not considered.  They may actually give you more than you asked for.  Not only will you get a better and possibly more creative solution, you will have empowered your followers who will appreciate the confidence you have placed in them.  Everyone enjoys a good challenge.  Give people one instead of dictating their methods.



Don’t fear failure!  We have all seen the stories of successful people and how many times they failed before getting where they are today.  Failure is a part of the growth process.  It is necessary and normal.  In fact it should almost be encouraged.  But it is not only important to personal growth, it is key to innovation.  If we are not failing occasionally we are probably not trying enough new things!  Progress and change require experimentation and experimenting involves failures.  Consider this…

“If you prohibit failure you kill innovation”
-     Dan Pallotta 

Don’t fear failure.  More importantly, don’t prohibit failure!