Would you want to work for you?
Asking yourself this question can greatly improve your leadership skills. Why? Because it’s a first step toward greater self-awareness, which has been proven to be an essential trait of effective leaders.
Self awareness helps leaders to know their natural dispositions and preferences so they can improve upon or compensate for them as needed. It also improves the bottom line. A 2013 study by Korn/Ferry International discovered that “public companies with a higher rate of return (ROR) also employ professionals who exhibit higher levels of self-awareness.”
Wherever you are on the spectrum of self-awareness, consider taking a fresh look at how it can transport your leadership skills to new heights.
Self Awareness Leads To More Emotional Intelligence
Being self-aware, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is “one of the core components of emotional intelligence.”
And strong emotional intelligence can give you the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others. You can then use that awareness to better guide your own behavior and your relationships with self and others — which makes you a leader that people want to follow.
World renowned researcher who coined the term “emotional intelligence,” Daniel Goleman, elaborates on this concept in a recent business article from The Telegraph. He explains, “If you think of the worst and best bosses you’ve ever had, it had nothing to do with their title or degree, but everything to do with the kind of person they were – for example, whether they were emotionally intelligent or not. People want to work for a person who is.”
If this all makes sense to you, then you’re ready to commit to gaining greater self awareness.
Try These Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness
Here are some easy ways to start down the path to heightened self awareness.
- Use one of the many tests available to better understand your behavior and motives. Some good ones include:
- Leadership Circle Profile – Not only tells you what is or is not contributing to a leader’s effectiveness, but also tells you “ why” this is so. It gives the leader causational insight into what is happening beneath the surface.
- Myers Briggs – Reveals your “sweet spot” personality for working and communicating with others, which may or may not be the optimal approach in your work with others.
- CliftonStrengths (formerly Strengthsfinder) – Shows you your “natural strengths,” which the test defines as your thinking style or the type of work you thrive on.
- Learn what triggers your behaviors. What particular drivers make you react a certain way—and why? What are your personal or professional blind spots? Identifying and understanding your triggers can help you achieve more productive interactions with others.
- Practice mindfulness. One of the key benefits of practicing mindfulness is a direct increase in self-awareness. The Harvard Business Review recently cited their work with a global IT company from Silicon Valley which showed that “even just five weeks of 10 minutes of daily mindfulness training enhanced the participating leaders’ self-awareness up to 35%.”
- Ask for feedback. This can sometimes be tough to hear, so choose someone you trust to share their view of your typical interactions. Be open to what they have to say – and be willing to implement changes if they are in alignment with your priorities and values.
- Be easy on yourself. Remember, you’re a work in progress! Look at your successes and what you’ve learned objectively, acknowledging what you did well – and what you might do differently next time. Learning from our mistakes is a key component of gaining self awareness.
Along with the tips above, there’s one more thing for self-aware leaders to practice…
Strong Leaders Combine Self-Awareness With Self-Regulation
Self-regulation is simply being aware of how your behavior impacts those you lead and then making adjustments as needed. This proves to your team that you want to bring out their best, without being intimidating or negative.
Leaders with both self-awareness and self-regulation skills set a positive example for their team members to follow, building teams that are more motivated, productive, and willing to courageously grow in their own right.
As a leader, could you ask for anything more?
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