The Power of Self-Awareness in Leadership
“Self-awareness is a psychological state in which people are aware of their traits, feelings, and behavior. Alternately, it can be defined as the realization of oneself as an individual entity." (Crisp & Turner, 2010). Leaders who are self-aware are able to recognize their strengths and weakness and draw on others’ strengths and creativity to create better results.
There is a compelling study that I recently posted on my Facebook page, that shows that “Leaders Who Possess Strong Soft Skills Perform Better at Driving Hard Results".
What words come to mind when you think of a great leader?
For me, in the "what seems now" distant past, the adjectives that immediately surfaced were:
The truth is, all three of the above are great qualities that allow leaders inspire others to perform extraordinary acts, but there is a reality that many, who are reporting to them, might be unaware of.
Leaders, like all human beings, don’t have all the answers and are not confident or fearless 100% of the time. They are, in fact, sometimes wrong or fundamentally flawed. The big difference is that the most accomplished ones are aware of their own flaws and are willing to develop. That is probably why they succeed. People sense genuine behaviors from afar and develop deeper trustworthy relationships with someone who knows that the team is there to support the leader utilizing their strengths. Subordinates feel valued when they are entrusted with using their strengths, and even more when they are welcomed to aid someone else (especially their leader) in being better at what they are not great at.
Why is self-awareness essential to great leadership?
There is no leader without a follower. Who would willingly follow a bully, a self-proclaimed God who ignores every suggestion for improvement, a passive aggressive, an unpredictable person who doesn’t provide stability for longer than a day or a week, etc. etc.? Yes, people might stay because they have reasons and make choices until a better opportunity surfaces.
When we are aware of our weaknesses and blind spots, we can recognize and learn from our failures and make a choice to turn to someone or something for help versus allowing our egos rule our entire being. Great people leaders are O.K. with acknowledging what they are capable of, and what they need to change. Denying a need to develop, grow, change, or confront something deeply concerning, accumulates more internal conflicts. In this case, one can come across as a bully trying to win, while masking his or her own weaknesses, at the expense of others' internal suffering.
This is my definition of a great leader today.
Someone who knows his/her inner self, being humble, drawing on others' strengths and experiences without any fear. This is courage, fearlessness, and approachability. The adjectives are still the same, but the meaning is so much deeper. I have met a lot of great leaders and proud to have learned from them.
We are humans, we have feelings, and we have a certain purpose to fulfill. Keeping this in mind, there are various ways to achieve our goals. Simply said, but not simply done:
Learn who you are and who you are surrounded by
Invite the outside world to help you grow
Trust that you have more to learn than you already know
When we are able to define our true purpose and essence, we are on the path to becoming more self-aware.