Simon Sinek once wrote that “if you don’t understand people you don’t understand business”. Business is, above all, about humanity. It’s about people. Businesses are created by people to serve people and it is, despite the rise of computers, robots and AI, still people who comprise everything that makes up a business. Understanding people is paramount to being able to do good business.
I am really delighted to have discovered the latest book by Tom Peters. You will doubtless have heard of Tom Peters. It was his first book, ‘In Search of Excellence’ which he co-authored in 1982 with Robert Waterman which really founded that genre of business books that so populates the bookshelves of progressive business people. Peters, now in his mid-seventies, is in the fortunate position of being able to look back on 50 years of studying and writing about business in his latest book ‘The Excellence Dividend’.
He has never wavered, in all of these years, from one of his mantras which is to put people first. The book is subtitled ‘Meeting the tech tide with work that wows and jobs that last’, which will give you a flavour of the content.
We all think that we know and understand people. But really very few of us do. Very few of us really know ourselves, how we work and how we do things and we can never understand others more than we understand ourselves. It was Carl Jung who asserted “We understand another person in the same way as we understand, or seek to understand, ourselves. What we do not understand in ourselves, we do not understand in the other person”. That is why everything we do to become more self-aware benefits us in our relationships with others as well as ourselves.
As a professional business coach for many years now I know that the work that clients do on understanding themselves pays dividends many times over in their ability to understand and therefore work well with others; whether that is by some of the stuff covered by NLP like modalities, or personality profiling, such as DiSC, or Strengthsfinder or Emotional Intelligence. The better a person knows and understands himself, the more likely he is to understand others. And it is only by really and truly understanding others that we can hope to develop positive productive relationships with them.
It is only by really and truly putting people first that we can hope to get the best results for them and from them. People first is Tom Peters’ mantra. Start with people is Jim Collins’ refrain. What is yours? What is your firm’s?
Just one last comment, if I may. Strengthsfinder is an assessment developed by the much-respected Gallup organisation which analyses an individual’s strengths, or talents, across 34 named categories. I am always amazed when people first have their strengths assessed, how often they remark that they weren’t aware that a particular talent that they have demonstrated should be thought of as a strength. You see we don’t ever really fully understand who we are and how we do things. Understanding, recognising and accepting our strengths, so that we can intentionally play to them, is a very important early step in our journey of self-development, and as Jim Rohn said ‘your level of success will rarely exceed your level of self-development’.
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