This is an excellent article in Psychology Today written by Dr. LaBier who discusses how important the element of Self-Awareness is for Chief Executives:
"Successful CEO leadership requires astuteness about others: their emotional and strategic personal drivers; their self-interest, overt and covert. These relationship competencies rest on a foundation of self-knowledge, self-awareness. And you can't know the truth about another without knowing it about yourself."
It is vital for all executive leaders to understand their own reactions and responses to information, and how that directly influences the reactions they get in return from followers. They also cannot begin to engage others in the organization's mission, purpose or daily operations without understand their unique motivations and drives. You may be asking, "But how can I know each person's personal drivers if I have 100 or more employees? There is not enough time in a week or even a year."
Agreed. You have two realistic options: one - focus on your direct reports. You can certainly begin to understand what gets the best out of them, when they seem at their most productive, and the types of recognition and reward they appreciate most. For more information on how to do this, see our article on Motivation Matching. Encourage those direct reports to begin the same process with their direct reports. Ask about it and keep it in the discussion so they are more apt to follow up. Your second option is to survey your employees and ask. Poll them on a variety of motivators and work to the top 3-5 items that emerge. Leverage that information when providing group recognition, incentive programs or company functions.
Knowing yourself and your workforce's emotional and strategic drivers can be done. And the payoffs can be huge.