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There is this obvious trivia: to manage people you need to manage yourself. Knowing your main character traits allows you to know whether they help you or work against you and your team. The same trait can be good or it can be bad depending on the situation. Just being aware that you have them makes it much easier to use them only to your advantage.

For me the realization came when I discovered that some of my strengths (as I’d thought about them) could be harmful in a lot of situations. I started to routinely ask myself a question: does my default behaviour help me in this situation? For me, more frequently that I’d like, the answer was: no, it doesn’t. A person can become humble after some time of questioning himself. It was not easy to elicit some general themes of non-productive behaviour. A bit of self-reflection and talking to other people can help a lot. To my surprise (as I didn’t believe that an automated tool can be accurate), an online assessment can be very helpful. After 30 minutes of questioning it shows your dominant traits. If used correctly those traits are your strengths. Without control over them the can become your weaknesses.

Let’s look at my dominant traits and how they can be troublesome instead of helpful.

Learner

I like to learn. Seems like a good strength to have. But having it as a most dominant strength also means that my default is to learn more than needed to be effective. I need to knowingly say to myself “I know enough, take the action”. Sometimes I feel that I enjoy learning more than the outcome of the usage of that knowledge.

Analytical

All decision have major trade offs if you analyse them hard enough. If I just could learn one more thing I’d be able to choose the perfect one! I know that at some point I need shut down my analytical brain and just make the decision. (But wait, not making a decision could also be a good decision with better trade offs - shut up brain!)

Strategic

Great, I don’t only need to know everything, analyse it perfectly but I also need to design a perfect plan. I just hope that when I finish it all, the decision or action will still be relevant.

Command

Now we’re getting somewhere. So when (or if) I create my perfectly crafted plan, I am confident that this is the best plan humanity can prepare. In my default mind, I don’t need to sell or justify it. It is so brilliant that people should just follow it.

The good news here is that is actually not that hard to suppress the bad sides of those strengths as long as you not allow yourself to go with the flow. In my case I need to set a constraint whenever I need to make a decision. Good enough is better than perfect and too late. And remember that I need to convince others - which is a good thing. Be conscious. And it also makes me happier. I don’t feel constrained when I knowingly suppress myself. It’s more like a liberation of the frontal lobe. It’s good to use the intuition only when it is helpful.

If you want to find out in a efficient way about your main character traits I recommend you to take the Clifton Strengths Assessment. It’s fairly easy - after identifying your traits - to prepare a guideline how to avoid bad sides of them. Also knowing about each other traits can greatly increase the effectiveness of the collaboration. So let’s start learning about ourselves, it can be only useful.


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