In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Michael Schrage says, “Serious leaders understand that, both by design and default, they’re always leading by example.”
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach or business manager, it seems to be a self-evident, yet daunting, leadership truth. We’re leading by example even when we’re not consciously aware of it.
Self-awareness is key to good leadership. On the other hand, being unaware of how we come across as leaders or unintentionally operating against our own professed values can be ineffective or even damaging. That’s why most leadership development courses spend considerable time up-front ensuring leaders are aware of their style, and the style they exhibit when placed under stress. As leaders, we understand the principle of working on ourselves first. Yet, in a moment of clarity, most of us would grudgingly admit that we sometimes try to remove specks (small leadership flaws) from our fellow leaders’ eyes when we may have proverbial logs (large leadership flaws) in our own eyes. I’m guilty as charged.
So, what have we established? Self-awareness is critical to leadership success and yet, as leaders, we have blind spots—areas where we may lack self-awareness. Thankfully, self-awareness is a skill which we can develop over time. One word of warning: Practicing and increasing self-awareness is not for the faint-hearted. It means hearing things about ourselves that we’d rather not hear. It means having our style, pet projects, and philosophies critiqued. It means being vulnerable and having other people realize that we’re not infallible—all while needing to exhibit the level of self-confidence that it takes to be a strong leader. But, being self-aware is worth it—both at home and at work.
How can we become more self-aware? I’ve found the following ideas helpful in my journey and offer them to you.
Nine Ways to Build Self-Awareness:
With a little bit of practice and focus, we can increase our self-awareness and become stronger leaders!
Do you have any self-awareness tips to share?