“Building Your Leadership Awareness.”
Socrates sure started something when he came up with the quote, “Know thyself.”
Self-awareness seems to have become the latest management buzzword — and for good reason.
Personality Type testing has grown to a whopping two 2 billion dollar annual enterprise.
A growing body of research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative.
We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. We become more effective leaders with healthier organizations.
My years of being a practitioner, coach, and ever-learning student of leadership have given me a ringside seat to the power of leadership awareness and the effect that it can have.
I’ve also witnessed more organizational traumas than I care to admit. Usually, it stems from a lack of understanding, or experience from a senior leader.
Someone in a leadership role “wasn’t getting it!”
On occasion, I’ve been an unwitting participant. So consider this my “mea culpa” disclaimer. Also, social proof that I know of which I speak.
My personal interest in self-awareness started many years ago with a simple DiSC Assessment. DiSC Is an open-source personality assessment tool. It is one of many tools that are prevalent in the business realm.
Others include Myers Briggs, Core Strengths and Birkman, to name a few.
My Own Journey With This
My first report was shock learning for me. You see, I’m an “off the chart” type D personality. People weren’t experiencing me as graciously as I thought they were.
At the time, I knew very little about nurturing this critical leadership skill.
I knew it meant significant internal leadership work for me to do – on me. Over time and with the help of others, I learned my default responses and was able to change and “flex my style.”
A well-researched research article in Harvard Business Review suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative.
We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.
We all want that. Right?
It provides evidence of a direct correlation between the leader’s level of self-awareness and the organization’s level of health and effectiveness.
So, what are the pathways to greater leadership self-awareness?
There are actually two broad, interrelated categories.
The first can be called internal self-awareness. It represents how we see our values, passions, aspirations, fit with our environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviours, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others.
Healthy Internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness; it is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.
The second category, external self-awareness, is more about understanding how other people experience us. Our personal UX. (User Experience)
Those who know how others see them invariably are more skilled at empathy and listening to others.
Leaders who figuratively can “walk in other people’s shoes” have a better relationship with them and are perceived as more effective in their leadership
As with other things, awareness often comes slowly and progressively.
Hence, the term “dawning awareness.”
The infographic, courtesy of McKinsey, tells the story nicely.
How do I get to level 5?
Here are a few suggestions that have worked well for me
Make feedback normal. Make workplace feedback safe and okay at team meetings. If you have made commitments to improve, take a moment to report on what you have done, and then ask team members to rate your progress on a scale of 1 to 10.
They may struggle the first few times you do it, but frequency will overcome timidity. The more regular you make it, the less risky it is.
Engage with a coach or mentor.
This may sound a tad self-serving because it’s what I do. (I am not looking for more work at this point) The more important part about this is that it works!
Ask someone you respect who’s candid and straightforward to be your informal coach. Meet regularly to request feedback. Make the coaching relationship public to demonstrate your sincerity about improving.
If you can afford a good Executive Coach, the Return On Investment can be significant (788%, according to this Forbes Article)
Having a multi-source feedback system that you’ve nurtured over time yields multiple dividends.
Until next time.
PS if you enjoyed this, you might like Building Trust Through Feedback