Category Archives: Leadership
Self-awareness in leadership can be an elusive pursuit.
Great leaders show an awareness of themselves and how it impacts others around them in and outside their organization, whether it is in their industry, the business world at large, or their personal lives.
When it comes to self-awareness, most people would claim you either have it or you don’t. While this is true, those that are self-aware come in varying degrees. Understanding the levels of self-awareness can help leaders know their current state and how they can develop from there.
Having an awareness and desire to improve is always the measure of the best in leadership.Tweet
The 3 levels of Self-Awareness are:
- Aware But Don’t Care. These types of leaders know about their general behavior, but either don;t see or don’t care that their behaviors impact others. They ignore there is anything wrong and don’t admit there is any opportunity for development. Usually leaders on this level are somewhat ignorant they have areas to grow while having a general base knowledge that they exist. They are like a person who knows they need exercise but never pursues any steps towards getting in shape and never thinks about it consciously either.
- Aware But Justify Behavior. This level is comprised of people who won’t change their actions and attitudes. These leaders know full well of their shortcomings and how they impact others, but often resort to “That’s just who I am!” or “I can’t operate like that.” “Can’ts” in their vocabulary are actually “won’ts”. They sometimes hide behind a guise of being authentic to defend their behaviors. At the end of the day, these are leaders who will not make an effort to enhance their leadership style to maximize the impact to those around them.
- Aware To Make Needed Changes. Leaders who have attained this level not only are aware of the need to make changes, they desire to make those changes to develop into a more impactful and influential leader. They not only possess a keen sense of others macro- and micro-reactions to their actions, but also have a true passion to grow and enhance their skills. In addition, these leaders tend to be true servant leaders, focused on others instead of self, and how they can better attune their style to meet the needs of the people in their organization.
The more one progresses through the different levels of self-awareness to a true state of making needed changes, the better impact they will have on their organization, their teams, and themselves as well.
Having an awareness and desire to improve is always the measure of the best in leadership.
How can you become more self-aware and genuinely make needed change?
Driving in snowy conditions virtually for all my life I’ve learned one thing … if your vehicle starts to slide, don’t apply your brakes.
Instead, it’s become almost second nature for me to take my foot off the gas pedal, and let the car start to slow down. Most of the time, the deceleration will be enough to gain traction and allow me to go safely forward.
Business can be like that. Sometimes plans and strategies start to go sideways, and it’s best to let up a bit.
This allows you to assess the conditions, make course corrections, and then proceed forward.
Going full steam ahead all the time might sound like you’ll steamroll over any obstacle, but in essence you might not to your intended goal as completely and impactfully as if you were able to let up a bit to find how to fix those obstacles.
You’ll end up getting to your end destination more confident and assured in your ability to navigate your industry.
Sometimes you have to let up a bit to go forward. Better safe than sorry.
Have you ever heard a high-ranking leader at an organization mention something and then took it at face value?
Yet a lower-level staff member makes a claim and those that hear on the outside are incredulous at the employee(s) statements.
Situations often arise where a top official will make a claim and most everyone will side with them. And the employee who tries to shed light on the issue or state their side of the story gets ignored because we default to trust those in higher position.
Why do people automatically trust someone higher up without getting all the facts? And likewise not corroborate the facts to validate their employee?
One may say that the leader has more knowledge, is more trustworthy because of her or his tenure and level of responsibility, or their words should be held in high regard becuase of who they are.
But that is not always the case. Often leaders fall short of earning trust, or even the benefit of the doubt.
Great leaders are not swayed by anyone’s claims, no matter how much authority and influence they have.Tweet
During these instances we tend to trust those in higher positions, and marginalize their subordinates.
This is a test of trust that unfortunately, most of us fail. Without any negative intent, we settle into a false narrative of truth because we naturally defer to those in higher positions without checks and balances.
So how can we become better leaders, and better people, to ensure we can give equity and voice to anyone at any given status? Here are a few internal questions to ask yourself:
- Do you play favorites? Is your position more important to you than checking facts that someone at the top claims? In other words, is your priority checking facts or making sure you suck up to key people in the organization? Biases towards certain levels of leadership over other levels is a recipe for distrust. Leaders don’t play favorites.
- Are you making a hasty judgement? Most leaders will pride themselves in displaying their ability to think a matter through before taking any strategic action. But in matters of employee concerns, many times that measured and critical thinking goes out the window. Always think about claims in a methodical and objective manner before coming to a conclusion.
- Did you get the whole story? There is a wise proverb that says “The one who states his case first seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Making sure you get the facts from all sides is essential to creating trust. And critical to keeping the integrity of the organization.
- Can you discern what the real matter is? Quite often the situation presented is only a symptom of a deeper and more severe agenda. Many times a leader makes a claim to expedite results or their career, and employees get squeezed when they bring light to the leaders actions, intentions and passive-aggressive behaviors. Looking beneath the facade of posturing and getting to the root of the matter by asking good probing questions on how each person feels usually sheds light into the reality of the situation.
Employees distrust leaders in their organization when they don’t feel safe, validated or as a resource to be leveraged against. When others default to taking the leaders side and not the employee, this distrust will threaten to undermine the organization at some point. And staff with the best interest of the company at heart will leave to find a culture in which there is mutual checks and balances.
Be neutral. Be measured. Seek objectivity. Fact check, then check the facts again. Ask questions to find the real motivation.
Be mindful of your default when it comes to hearing about employee issues. Chances are good that you’re not hearing the entire story.
Great leaders are not swayed by anyone’s claims, no matter how much authority and influence they have.