“Know yourself and you will win all battles.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
While corporate management is arguably not as bloody as leading an army into battle for control of China, it is no walk in the park either. As a manager you are not simply looking after the best interest of your organization as a whole but you also strive to bring out the best in each individual under your crew, hoping that together they form a sum bigger than their parts.
Unfortunately, we have to admit that self-awareness in management is a matter often overlooked. Traditional tools in strategic management like Porter’s Five Forces usually focus on products or organizations but tend to neglect the individual – especially if the individual in question is you. Self-awareness is understanding who you are and what your merits are for landing that big responsibility in the corner office. On the other hand, self-awareness is also acknowledging that there is always room for improvement and admitting that like everyone else you do also make mistakes.
A highly successful individual contributor may not necessarily be a good manager, nor does a good manager have to be the best in his field to be an effective leader. Knowing your strengths may be important to get you where you are now but identifying and admitting your weaknesses are crucial for the long term. It shows your superiors that you are willing to learn, and shows your subordinates that it is okay to ask for help. These interpersonal relationships are critical to the success of the manager because it’s not always what the manager has done, but sometimes how they are able to do it that matters.