I’m sure you know at least one person who isn’t self-aware, which means he doesn’t know himself that well, yes? Perhaps this person thinks that he’s a great listener, supportive, friendly, caring, or even giving for that matter. But, you and others think, “Hmm, yeah, no.”
If you do, you’re not alone. There are plenty of us who have people like this in our lives, but that’s the reason for today’s topic. In this post, we’re going to talk about self-awareness and why knowing yourself is the foundation for becoming an exceptional leader.
Self-awareness is knowing exactly who that person is that’s looking back at you in the mirror. Meaning you know that person’s character, personality, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, flaws, core values, and beliefs.
Self-awareness is critical because it allows you to control your life. It enables you to manage your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and reactions. If you’re self-aware, your professional development will be more effective because you’re clear on the skills that need your attention.
Studies show that self-awareness is the best predictor of success in leadership. Self-awareness allows you to build a strong foundation for emotional intelligence, which is essential for success in leadership. And, being familiar with yourself puts you in the position to make smarter decisions, and impacts how you relate to others. Most importantly self-awareness and emotional intelligence affect your leadership style, which impacts your performance.
They lead with their strengths to maximize their impact. That means self-aware leaders engage in activities that leverage their strengths while neutralizing their weaknesses. In some cases, they may even modify their role to leverage their strengths.
Let me give you an example. If you’re familiar with the StrengthsFinder Profile and the 36 strengths, then you know that leaders with Woo are the cheerleaders; they’re the ones who connect with people, keep them motivated, and keep them engaged. Well, say, for instance, Woo is your strength but your role requires substantial financial analysis, which keeps you isolated from your team. A way to play to your strengths is to hire someone skilled at financial analysis so that you can delegate the responsibility to them instead. Then, you can direct your attention to what you do best, which is connecting with and motivating people.
Another trait of self-aware leaders is emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent leaders are honest with themselves about their skills, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. They’re better listeners because they can control their emotions and allow others to be heard. They’re excellent at determining the emotions to use in various situations. And, they also make intelligent decisions relating to how they delegate tasks, who they hire, and where they focus their attention. As a result, they are better at making decisions that are best for the organization.
If you’re ready to increase your self-awareness, here are three steps you can take:
Journaling is an excellent exercise because it allows you to document your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis. Because journals are a historical account of your thoughts, feelings, actions, etc., you can look back at what you journaled, reflect, and make decisions on how you want to do things differently in the future. The ability to look back gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your actions and make adjustments where necessary.
Another way you can develop self-awareness is to engage in 360-degree feedback. A 360 feedback assessment is probably the most effective approach to becoming more self-aware. 360-degree feedback is an assessment that allows your peers, direct reports, and manager to give you anonymous feedback. The feedback is their perception about how you’re performing in various areas. It’s one of the most effective, and most eye-opening assessments that you will ever engage in during your leadership career.
To wrap up today’s discussion on self-awareness, I want to leave you with these thoughts.
If you’re ready to get started developing and increasing your self-awareness, I have a freebie called How to Develop Self-Awareness Guide + Workbook, which helps you look within to begin discovering who you really are. This guide takes you beyond today’s discussion and includes more information on values, beliefs, etc. Download that extra special freebie by submitting your information below.