As entrepreneurs, we want to grow great businesses and make a huge difference. But there is one big challenge that we all have: We have to actually work with other people to get there.
One of the things that we must do as to build great companies is understand ourselves and then understand the other people we have the privilege of working with and serving. For some insights into that, I recently enlisted the help a renowned behavioral profiler, Steven Sisler, who works with business owners as well as other teams, families and spouses as the founder of The Behavioral Resource Group.
Sisler measures people's personalities and key character traits based on four key areas of assessment--anger, optimism, patience and fear--to help determine how they view both their inner worlds (themselves) and their outer worlds (others). Our level of intensity in each of these areas dictates our actions.
Start with self awareness
To see how we can better understand ourselves as entrepreneurs, and use that knowledge to be better owners and managers, let's consider a test subject who Sisler recently profiled: me.
1. Highest emotion: Anger. On the surface, that might not sound so great. But what a high anger reading reveals is an attack-the-world, take-no-prisoners style of managing--it's the emotion that drives big results, be it closing a deal or running into a burning building to save a life. If we see an opportunity, we go for it because we know it won't end up in our pockets otherwise. According to Sisler, most people have traits that make them tend to wait for good things to come their way. As business owners, therefore, we tend to be fundamentally different than many other people in the world--a fact that can easily cause us to feel misunderstood by others (in business and in life).
2. Independence. My profile reveals me as someone very much in need of freedom and autonomy in the world. If I'm given a rule, my brain naturally questions it and tries to determine if it's a rule that's worth following, as opposed to simply going along. (Any of this sound familiar, fellow business owners?)
3. Highly flexible. This personality trait means I can spin on a dime--turn the ship in a new direction, fast and (usually) successfully. This is a great skill, of course, but it can also lead to impatience that causes entrepreneurs to move too fast or get distracted by shiny new opportunities that may not be as compelling as they seem. Of course, it also means that once we create something big, we're ready to keep going and one-up our past accomplishments.
Using the info
Self-awareness can help us work better with the people around us and put ourselves in front of the right people that blend with our personalities and styles. Or as Sisler puts it so well: "If you're a tomato, find a salad. If you're a hammer, find a toolbox."
By knowing how we tend to operate and make business decisions, we can start to tweak our processes and actions to get better results. For example, say you're a highly emotional decision-maker whose decisions can change without much warning. That can make team members uncomfortable, because they feel they're always doing their best just to keep up with what they see as your indecisiveness. Instead of making an emotion-based decision next time, pick up the phone and run your plan by a logical left-brain personality you trust. That check can stop you from making a wrong decision or confirm what you want to do and enable you to commit fully to it.
Indeed, knowing how your brain drives your decisions can help you surround yourself with other people who have different, complementary personality traits that will help ground you, motivate you or keep you focused on what really counts in your company. In my case, I've made sure to keep my chief operating officer with me throughout my many companies because I know he's the voice of reason I sometimes need.
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