Know Thyself


Posted: 28 Nov 2010 11:57 PM PST

Up to 2,400 years ago, if you were entering the temple of Apollo at Delphi, you might have noticed this inscription – in Greek, of course. A latin version made a cameo appearance above a door at the home of a more modern Oracle in the film “The Matrix”. 

Delivering a leadership training program last week I had a powerful example of the power and value of this apparently simple recommendation.

One small but significant piece of self knowledge proved to be transformative for one participant. It explained, precisely, years of misunderstanding and provided the opportunity for a new and more positive way of being.

Over the years since the Oracle at Delphi was the ultimate arbiter and authority, we have developed some brilliant tools to help us to understand ourselves. These are evolutionary tools that help us to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and take each generation to a further level. They often go under the slightly intimidating name of “Psychometrics”.

We use a number of these profiling tools to help us understand ourselves and our clients and to give an objective view alongside our more subjective assessments. Very often the diagnostic provided by the profiling tool is so insightful that with a minimum of support, the knowledge can prove transformative.

We all have deeply seated preferences and behaviours. Some of us prefer a lot of attention, others prefer to be left alone. Some of us prefer to feel in control others prefer to be free from responsibility. Some of us prefer to narrow things down and deliver, others prefer to open things up and explore.

None of these differences are good or bad in themselves. Some lend themselves more to particular lines of activity than others, but mostly they just provide the diversity that any team needs to be optimal. With my preference for finding new ways of doing things, you would not want me as the pilot of your passenger plane, for example.

The opportunity, for individuals and teams, lies simply in the awareness. Once a particular need or behaviour becomes conscious we can be open about it. It moves from being a confusing misalignment to being a distinct quality that can be positively applied to any situation.

None of this understanding exists in isolation, it is all relative to others and particularly those around us. Our partner at home and our team at work. Knowing that one colleague has a preference for always coming up with ideas and not focussing on the deliverable like the rest of the team is enormously valuable and liberating. Immediately we can stop trying to get them to conform and value their ability to come up with new ideas.

At Authenticis we particularly use two tools (there are plenty of others) FIRO-B and Pathfinder.

FIRO-B was originally developed for the US military to profile submarine crews. It is essential to understand people’s preferences and behaviours so that a a team can complement one another rather than conflict.

FIRO-B helps us to understand how we prefer to relate to others, specifically in terms of what we want and what we offer in terms of interaction, control and affection.

Pathfinder Profiler is a contemporary business based version of the much more ancient Enneagram. Pathfinder helps us to understand our personality type our strengths and our weaknesses. Being conscious and transparent about what we tend to be better at than others at means we can valuably offer it to our team. Being conscious and transparent about what we tend to be less good at than others gives us the opportunity to improve or to compliment ourselves with others who have our weakness as their strength – the essence of team work.

RA Mashelkar talks about the transformative effects of low cost design, why not apply these principles rather than implement austerity measures? Surely it is only fear and self serving to do otherwise?. Watch his TED talk, put it on your web site, link to it and talk about it to everyone you meet. I have put it on

If you would like help taking your team from good to great, give me a call.

Join us on our Authentic Business Radio show every Thursday at 5pm UK, 6pm Euro or 12.00 EST. This week we will be discussing “Know Thyself”.

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With love


Neil Crofts
Neil Crofts
authentic business

+34 646391384
Skype – neilcrofts


About Neil Crofts

Writer, coach and consultant on authentic business and authentic leadership. Neil has inspired and motivated hundreds organisations and thousands of individuals to their highest potential. Neil has written three published books and numerous e-books. Neil is a coach, facilitator and consultant helping people and businesses find their authentic purpose and use it to inspire and motivate them to be everything that they can be. Neil has raced cars, been self-employed, run a company and sold it, been employed by large companies, experienced growth and contraction at the heart of the dotcom boom, tried changing companies from the inside and from the outside as European Head of Strategy at internet consultancy/rock band Razorfish. Neil has been independent for over 10 years and delivered his Authentic Leadership message to a diverse range of business audiences including people at BP, Shell, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, MSN, Jamie Oliver, South Gloucestershire Council, National Blood Transfusion Service, KaosPilots Business School, Fashion company By Malene Birger, German technology company Eleven.
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