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A Strategic Approach to Managing Yourself and Others

Managing others may not be complex, but it is certainly not easy.

9/04/2012 | Leadership and Management | 3 minute read

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Harvard Professional Development

Albert Einstein once said, "Politics is more difficult than physics." The same might be said of the practice of management.

Managing others may not be complex, but it is certainly not easy. What often appear to be simple, straightforward principles can be deceptively difficult to implement.

It starts with knowing yourself—what really motivates you, your strengths and blind spots. Really understanding yourself can be a difficult and enlightening process. The more accurate and nuanced your understanding of yourself is, the greater your chances of being able to put yourself in environments and situations that play to your strengths.

Armed with this internal insight, you then can begin to understand organizational culture—and how to survive and thrive in varied cultures. For example, what are the norms, what is acceptable, what is expected, what is taboo? Through purposeful observation and communication, you can gather this important knowledge. Then, pause to see if there is a match between your motivations, strengths and goals, and the culture of which you are a part. If there is not a match, it could mean more obstacles to overcome in your quest for a rewarding experience.

Next, you can drill down into understanding the best approach for getting results. While this varies by organization, and often varies by department within an organization, there are a variety of ways to maximize your ability to be successful on the job. It’s learning how to influence others in this environment—how to manage your team, how to manage your boss and how to work with peers. It’s about influence and persuasion. It’s also about mapping your strengths and weaknesses with those around you, and understanding how your actions influence your ability to get things done.

This brings you back to managing yourself to manage your career. How good are you at understanding and managing others? What strengths should you play up? What do you need to do to the next level in your career—or perhaps to a new career? It’s an iterative, interesting cycle and important to continually evaluate how you are doing along these various dimensions.

Just like a circle has no “end,” neither does the process of managing yourself and others. And that’s what makes it interesting.

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