As leaders we spend the majority of our time leading our team and business. The outflow of energy, direction and teaching far outweighs the input and feedback. Leaders are often lonely. If they are fortunate, they have built a foundation of peers and direct reports that bring support to the role.
Developing self-awareness is about knowing yourself. It starts with knowing your strengths and understanding your limitations. Leaders that lack self-awareness may be resistant to feedback and lack humility.
Key Pillars of Self-Awareness
1.) Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses – Knowing what your strengths are allows you to identify roles that allow you to be successful. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to delegate effectively and avoid projects that may not produce strong results. The challenge with utilizing only your strengths is that we may close ourselves off from growth opportunities. A good question to ask yourself is “Am I able to gain skill in this area?” or “Is this a project that would not leverage my strengths in a way that would lead to a positive outcome?”
2.) Knowing What Recharges Your Battery – This is a very personal matter. For some, it is a good walk in the middle of the day that clears the mind and allows you to return to work charged up. For others, it is a nap. Identify ways to recharge yourself and sustain yourself. Many best practices include – time with trusted friends, turning off the cell phone at night, a full 7 -8 hours of sleep each night and exercise. Research indicates that our engagement increases when we are continually learning and expanding. What are you doing to expand your skills and learn something new?
3.) Situational Effectiveness – Each situation requires a different approach to be successful. We also call this ‘action logic.’ This could include being directive vs. coaching or teaching vs. telling. A self-aware leader knows their default action logic and answers “What leadership approach would be most effective?”
4.) Understanding Environments That Allow You To Thrive – This may be discovered in your work history. No doubt the previous cultures you worked at set a cultural tone. That tone is oftentimes energizing or demoralizing. It is important you know the type of environment that would allow you to thrive.
5.) Personalized Productivity – Your productivity is personal. There are as many books about productivity as there are stars in the galaxy. Each system promotes different tools and approaches. It is less about full adherence to one system and more about the system you create that allows you to be the most productive. Best practices in productivity include writing down your to-do list, taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep and strong habit formation.
6.) Stress Management – This is absolutely essential to create sustainability and inspirational leadership. Stress has two categories – ‘within’ and ‘beyond.’ The within could also be called the ‘controllable’ which includes email, projects and deadlines. “Nothing diminishes anxiety more than action.” – Walter Anderson. If your anxiety is high and it is within move toward it and seek to accomplish. ‘Beyond’ is what is outside your control. Great leaders know what is within and what is beyond. They engage in the within.
How self-aware are you as a leader?