Self-awareness is the degree to which we have knowledge and understanding of:
Even the most self-actualized among us, have blind spots. Our own “take” on ourselves is informed (and often misinformed) by our mental models, early learning and beliefs about the world. People who know us well, our families and teams, have an experience with us that may be very different from our own. Which one we trust and use most to guide our actions, depends upon how much impact and influence we want to have on the world. If we want to stay within the boundary of the roles we have defined for (and to which we have limited) ourselves, then greater self-knowledge may not be as necessary. But if you want to lead others, larger teams and organizations, then you need to continue to expand your self-knowledge.
Why do I believe expanding self-knowledge is required work for leaders who want to become more effective? Because as the complexity of our information and technology based economy grows, leadership roles become more challenging. More often leaders need to evoke the best from people who are wired differently than they are. The more global our world, the more diverse our businesses, the more this becomes a top priority. When we have a team that comes from a different background, culture, geography or language, we need to discover what motivates and inspires them. We often like to hire people more similar to ourselves. It is easier. It is also less effective to all sorts of business outcomes. Understanding diverse customers and cultures, expanding creativity and innovation, all rely on diverse mental models, and greater understanding and acceptance of others.
In my experience, even understanding the mental models of someone who is similar to us is more like learning a new language than we think. So how can leaders expand their self-knowledge? Here are a few ideas:
In my experience, improving our self-awareness can feel daunting. What we deny the most may be the most important for us to understand. One thing I know for sure, greater leadership self-awareness can lead to more openness and understanding of what inspires the best contribution from our teams. It can also make you a more capable and powerful leader.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.