Self-Awareness — The Key to Successful Leadership
Article written by Suzanne
Aristotle is famous for saying, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Socrates’ motto is “know thyself.” Nelson Mandella, a more current celebrated leader, shared in a letter to his wife from his jail cell, requesting her to “Learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your mind and feelings.” These three famous leaders are known for their insight, forethought, depth, and transformational leadership. They collectively believe that understanding yourself holds the key to personal mastery. This belief mimics what The LIVE IT Method leadership framework demonstrates and what drives LIVE IT Leadership coaching.
A Lack of Self-Awareness – A Barrier to Successful Leadership (both of self-leadership and leadership of others)
Did you know that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% are? (Jastzabski, 2020).
Self-awareness is your ability to recognize yourself — your feelings, emotions, behaviours, what drives you (and what doesn’t!) and manage them all. Self-awareness is being aware of your strengths and limitations and having the ability to be frank and honest about them. You will hear me say this phrase repeatedly — when you know yourself, you can be yourself. Self-knowledge is irreplaceable.
Leaders who don’t look inward consequently look outwards. They often lay blame on the people around them. These leaders don’t take ownership. Their lack of self-awareness creates many blind spots. It decreases their ability to communicate truthfully and effectively with themselves and the people around them. The unaware leaders’ lack of self-reflection compromises their ability to make informed, smart decisions. These barriers cause many ripple effects – a rift in the relationships (with self and other) and a culture of unauthentic connections and conversations, decreasing productivity, fulfillment, team synergy, and innovation.
Self-Awareness – A Successful Leaders Key to Success
Stanford rates self-awareness as one of the pillars of managerial capabilities that predicts organizational effectiveness and leadership success. It suggests that IQ and technical skills are far less critical to leadership success than self-awareness (Showery and Manza, 2014). When a leader takes responsibility for developing their awareness, they look inward with everything they do. They get to know their true self, understand themselves, their behaviour, and influence others. Self-aware leaders do the work to know their strengths and limitations. They understand their ebb and flow of emotions and actions and use this awareness to communicate with themselves and others effectively.
Because of this ability to look inward first, they hold personal ownership of themselves by processing information with clarity and strength. This self-awareness helps them also take ownership of the situations around them. They are conscious of their thoughts and behaviours, which brings transparency to their directions to others. When self-awareness exists in leaders’ development, the outcomes are endless. Each new piece of knowledge flows into the leader gets interpreted with clarity and creates an authentic action transforming both the leader and the people around them (their team at work or home)
When self-awareness exists in leaders’ development, the outcomes are endless
Having a skilled leadership coach on the team builds:
- awareness (of self and others)
- creates engagement (to self and others)
- connection (to self and others)
- a culture of trust (of self and others)
- ownership (of self and others)
- and continued growth (of self and others)
Coaching was instrumental before the pandemic — now it’s crucial. Each person can muddle through every challenge on their own and do “OK,” or you can overcome each challenge with a coach beside you and your team not just to survive – but thrive.
Yours in Leadership,
Reach to build your team’s awareness of self and others.
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