Staying ahead of the curve as it relates to the business landscape is truly a full-time job nowadays. Not only do business owners, managers, and all leaders have to be savvy enough to know when to push and pull, they also have to know how and why they are doing it! One of the true indicators that a leader has the pulse of their organization and can pull the trigger when need be is the level of self-awareness that they are willing to accept.
The reason I captured the terminology “willing to accept” in reference to self-awareness is because that is the difference maker. All of us have some level of awareness in relation to the impact that we have, can have, or have had on people and our teams BUT if we are willing to accept the impact that we have had there is always room for growth. To be able to reach the point of acceptance there are three items a leader should embrace for the greater good.
1) ASK THE QUESTIONS THAT MAY MAKE YOU CRINGE – One of the oldest leadership philosophies out there is “no news is good news”. Self-aware leaders want news that is related to the impact they are having on people and the best way to understand that is to ask. I am not a fan of written surveys although they can be insightful at times but I would rather build a good enough repoir so that an impromptu or scheduled listening session is the norm. If done appropriately, asking the tough questions relating to the culture and vision you are creating can facilitate wonderful moments of clarity and growth for the leader and all involved. Once again, this may sting a bit at first but pain is temporary and improvement is magic!
2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH TRUSTED CRITICS – Feedback is awesome when it is coming from someone who is invested in you and your success. Whether it is a mentor, a colleague, or a subordinate a leader must have a true circle of individuals that care enough about him/her to keep it real. It is very unlikely that people in leadership roles will hear the truth about how they are doing on a regular basis and it is important to not only hear it but to be able to understand the message without hesitation. One of the reasons it is so difficult for leaders to be self-aware is due to the fact that many people want to either tell them they are doing a great job or they hear nothing at all. Building an emotional connection with trusted colleagues is a great way to stay grounded and receive feedback that is actionable and trustworthy.
3) INVEST IN YOURSELF – All of us know that it is very difficult to invest time in your own development but it is a necessity if you want to have a resemblance of being self-aware. Even if the investment is a half hour a day or an hour a week to simply read, it is well worth the time. If you truly want to go all in, hiring a coach or attending leadership seminars or programs are great investments. The word “invest” is the juggernaut here because whether it is in time or finances we want to see the results. In my opinion the ability to reflect, grow, and learn is priceless to a leader and the people you serve so don’t be afraid to go out on a limb because there will be a payback.
At the end of the day, great leaders are aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are and they can identify the reality that they have created so they have an opportunity to build a new one.