Last May I wrote a series on self-awareness (and the lack of it) among leaders. In the intervening months, as I have coached groups in different settings, my belief that self-awareness is the foundation of healthy leadership has been further reinforced.
So I decided to republish and update this post, with further suggestions to help us all strengthen that foundation for our leadership.
First, let’s remember that self-awareness is the initial component of growing emotional intelligence, so self-awareness is a starting point, not a finish line. But you can only run the race if you start, and failure to be self-aware will be a key reason why you fail to lead as fruitfully as you desire.
Second, let’s understand that self-awareness is best developed by a combination of personal reflection and input from others. I need to develop the skill of understanding myself first: to recognize how I am wired, the strengths and weaknesses that make me unique. Then I benefit most from getting input from those around me, both confirming and augmenting the insights gained from personal reflection.
Thirdly, self-awareness is a journey; expect your self-awareness to grow and develop over time. One suggestion I have found helpful in my own life is to plan regular opportunities to invest in self-awareness. Subscribe to a blog that builds on your strengths, take some training in an area of weakness, read a book on self-awareness issues, or schedule a regular time with a friend or mentor. You can also tap into resources online such as this self-awareness test and take your Life Languages profile here.
Fourth (and additionally for this repost): repeat your self-awareness process. Since I first wrote this, I have seen so clearly that the most effective leaders are those who reject a “been there, done that” approach to self-awareness. Instead they consistently revisit their previous insights and see how time has changed their results or deepened their understanding of themselves.
Finally, apply your self-awareness to your leadership. Build teams that combine different strengths for optimal success, look for those who are strong in areas you are not, set an example of self-awareness for those you lead and encourage them to grow their own awareness.
In all these ways, you will begin to turn the tide of self-awareness and we will all benefit from the personal and organizational growth that results.