Learn How the Best Leaders Know How to Read People

Knowing how to read people is an important leadership skill. A big part of leadership is the ability to manage groups of diverse individuals, and the key to making that work is developing your ability to see differences in people so you can employ those differences for everyone’s benefit.

Here are some of the techniques top use in reading people:

They start with understanding themselves. The best leaders know that to truly understand others, they have to first spend the time to understand themselves. They seek out feedback so they can discover their strengths and weaknesses, and they cultivate self-awareness by considering how their words and actions affect themselves and others.

They learn about personalities. Top leaders make it a point to familiarize themselves with different personality types to help them understand people and their differences. Studying a personality system like Myers-Briggs or Enneagram can help you develop the knowledge and insight you need to understand people at a foundational level.

They observe and listen. The best leaders are observant; they take the time to look and listen, which enables them to assess people at different levels in different situations. The more closely you observe someone, the more you know about them and the better you can read and understand them.

They look below the surface. Most people judge others by what they say, but the best leaders assess them on what they do. They go a level deeper to see how the person truly functions and what makes them tick. They move past the surface and look for the essence of people.

They look for difference. Top leaders look for the skills that make a difference the skills that make up a person’s ability to bring a project to success. Finding people with those skills means being able to seek out difference.

They watch for emotion. Research has found that people who are emotionally expressive are more reliable, capable and trustworthy than others. Talented leaders look for people who can connect with enthusiasm, passion and personal involvement.

They think in terms of motivation. To truly read people, you need to know what motivates them. Only when you understand what drives someone can you begin to understand them on a meaningful level. It is the choices we all make that drive us to be who we are.

Reading people sizing them up, picking up on their signals, getting to know them on a deeper level—is an important skill for any of us, but it’s critical for leaders who aspire to greatness. count on their leader, and to be effective in that role requires that you build a quick and accurate understanding of the people you’re leading so you can help them build success, both individually as a team.

Lead from within: The best leaders are really good at reading people. They understand the people around them sometimes even better than the people understand themselves.

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