An important leadership quality is being self-aware. Something most of us can improve!
Being self-aware is about understanding what motivates you, the impact you have on others, what you do well and where you struggle.
Stephen Covey says that self-awareness involves deep personal honesty and that it comes from asking and answering hard questions.
What self-awareness isn’t is self-judgement. We need to look at ourselves and see who we really are, and not listen to that nasty negative little voice that likes to pop up and say how bad we are. Judgement can just nick right off. And while we’re there, we should also get rid of imposter syndrome, because neither of those are helpful. AT ALL.
Research tells us that when we have greater self-awareness we are more effective at communicating, we have increased confidence and we are more creative. This enables us to have stronger relationships, be more effective and impactful leaders, have more productive and satisfied employees and run more profitable companies.
Researchers at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations suggest that self-awareness is a main indicator of leadership success, and the higher level of self-awareness, the higher level of leadership success.
And who doesn’t want that!!!
My friend Kate Billing, who I spoke to on episode 9 says that increasing self-awareness and the capacity for inner self-management should be a foundational part of our development agenda.
In particular, Kate talks a lot about self-talk – that little voice in your head that tells you how great you are or, in many cases, how great you aren’t. One of her techniques is to give that negative voice a name – I call mine Gertrude – and whenever it pops up to tell it to go away. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s very satisfying when I say F-off Gertrude!
When we are self-aware we are also more likely to fully show up at work, at home and with our loved ones. This is important because being fully present can help us decrease stress and increase our focus.
So how do we become more self-aware?
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.
- What we can do is get to know ourselves better. Identify your strengths and weaknesses – a tool such as the CliftonStrengths assessment can help you with this.
- Identify the external triggers that generate a response from others, whether it’s positive or negative.
- Ask for feedback from your colleagues and superiors at work and from your family and friends
- Seek out mentoring and support
- Invest in yourself with personal development programs
- Back yourself
- Show vulnerability
We also need to
- be open – to new experiences, new people, new ideas
- be curious – ask questions, show an interest
Finally, we need to question our assumptions. Marie Foleo in her fabulous book Everything is Figureoutable, reminds us that we need to transform negative thoughts into helpful thoughts. For example, instead of saying “I know this already” as yourself What can I learn from this.
And instead of saying this won’t work for me, ask yourself How can I make this work for me.
So what I want to know from you is this. How are you going to become more self aware? Do you think you might name that nasty voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough?
And how will you be more open, more curious and question your assumptions?
I’d love to know.
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