The Importance of Knowing Your People

The Importance of Knowing Your People

(And how to do it!)

“Organisations grow when leaders spend the time to grow their people.” This simple yet profound statement encapsulates the essence of effective leadership. To truly develop and nurture individuals within an organization, leaders must invest time and effort into understanding their people. When leaders know their employees on a deeper level, a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect is built, leading to personal and organizational growth.

Two women having a quiet meeting in a modern setting

What does it really mean to know someone?

It goes beyond the surface level interactions and extends into understanding their values, beliefs, and aspirations. It involves recognizing their mindset towards learning, growth, and challenges. Furthermore, knowing someone encompasses understanding their personality preferences, such as whether they are introverted or extroverted, deep thinkers or doers, creative or analytical, and whether they thrive in individual or team environments.

Fortunately, there are various tools and assessments available to aid leaders in this process. Personality profiling assessments like DISC, BELBIN, Myers-Briggs, and Gallup Strengths Finder can provide valuable insights into an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, and work preferences. These assessments help leaders understand their team members better and leverage their unique qualities to maximize their potential.

Leaders need to look at the bigger picture

To truly understand employees, leaders must also be aware of their personal and professional ambitions. By encouraging employees to create a “1-3-5” plan, which consists of a personal vision, three goals related to business, personal life, and health and wellbeing, and five action steps under each goal, leaders can gain insight into their team members’ aspirations and motivations. This holistic understanding enables leaders to provide the necessary support and guidance for their employees’ growth and development.

Beyond individual characteristics, organizational culture plays a significant role in fostering openness, vulnerability, and effective teamwork. All employees should be aware of the organization’s values and the behaviors required to align with them. These values serve as a decision filter for both strategic and tactical choices. Leaders have the responsibility to establish and model the desired behaviors, telling stories that exemplify the values and interpreting them for their teams.

Inclusivity and context matter

To create a culture of inclusivity and understanding, leaders can also facilitate vulnerability exercises. These exercises provide a platform for individuals to share pivotal moments in their lives, their favorite music tracks and the stories behind them, or even to write a poem describing their journey and experiences. By creating such opportunities for self-expression, leaders foster empathy and connection among team members.

Understanding individuals in the context of their generational background is another important aspect of knowing your people. Each generation brings unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace. By studying intergenerational theory, leaders can gain insights into the values, motivations, and work preferences of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha. This knowledge enables leaders to tailor their approaches to effectively engage and manage employees from different generations.

Lastly, emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in knowing and understanding others. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. It comprises self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence can effectively empathize with their team members, provide support when needed, and create a positive and collaborative work environment.

In conclusion, the importance of knowing your people cannot be overstated. By investing the time and effort to understand individuals on a deeper level, leaders can create an environment of trust and mutual respect. This understanding allows leaders to tailor their leadership styles, provide targeted support and unlock the full potential of their team members. Ultimately, organizations thrive when leaders prioritize the growth and development of their people.

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