One of the top rules for today's manager is to know yourself. A self-aware manager is likely to be more competent and to perform a more effective leadership role. Self-awareness means understanding how your behaviour affects those around you and how people are likely to react to that behaviour. This means you can better predict what your different management styles will achieve and you can manage yourself more effectively.
To obtain awareness of your psychological or personality type you could look at a personality assessment system such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Go to a trained assessor who can give feedback and help you learn about different personality types and the interactions between them. It pays to be aware of the type you are and how this relates to other people.
An individual's management and leadership style can often be assessed by using their answers to set questions. There are many assessment approaches, with a vast choice available on the internet. Management styles range from the authoritarian to the consensual.
Excellent managers deploy a range of styles across different situations and people. For example, a directive management style has its place in times of crisis or when someone needs clear guidance. As a preferred style, however, it will not be useful in most situations.
Increasing emphasis has been put on the need for managers to be emotionally intelligent and aware of their own values, because these also affect effectiveness. Positive psychology techniques are being used to assess preferences in these areas. For example, the Authentic Happiness website (www.authentic happiness.com) provides a number of questionnaires that can tell you about your character strengths, which reveal what gives you meaning and satisfaction.
Such tests can help make you more aware of personal stresses and preferences so you can work with and not against them. They can also help you to interpret others' behaviour and preferences - and to discover whether you're in the right job.
- Elaine Willis is a consultant and coach specialising in voluntary sector management. firstname.lastname@example.org.