As I life we leaning on our past experiences to help others around us. For me, I tend to lean on my military experience, cultural background, and business experience and so one question is often asked, "What is the most important trait for a leader? Self-awareness, in my opinion, is the most important trait for anyone who wants to lead others or lead their own life to achieve their full potential.
Ancient Greek philosophers often preached to “Know Thyself,” a maxim engraved on the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Although this philosophy is centuries old, modern scientific evidence suggests leaders who know themselves and how others see them (a core component of emotional intelligence), are more effective in leadership positions with higher levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Effective leaders learn who they are as an individual and build positive relationships with their subordinates.
For me, self-awareness is the Conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires. When you're self-aware, you have an accurate and clear understanding of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. You know what makes you tick. Self-awareness also includes an understanding of how others perceive you.
There are two classifications of self-awareness:
· Internal self-awareness is the ability to see yourself clearly as an individual.
· External self-awareness is the ability to understand how others see you.
Both components are critical to effective leadership and form a guiding principle for leaders to make meaning of the world around them.
At its core, self-awareness refers to a candid understanding of a person's needs, principles, thought patterns, goals, motivations, emotional reactions, ambitions, strengths, and limitations, and how these affect other people.
Lacking self-awareness can lead to a very confusing and frustrating life, business, and in a relationship!
And so regardless of one's profession or career echelon, success depends on recognizing who you are as well as how you come across to others. This becomes more important the higher someone ascends in rank and stature. Because of the positional power senior leaders possess, those lacking self-awareness are significantly more likely to trigger angst throughout an organization and cause derailment. I have witnessed that the delusion of misguided leaders often grows with rank and seniority because “early successes give way to an intoxicating pride that blinds them to truths they can and should be seeing.
Self-awareness is necessary for taking control of your life whether in your personal or Business life. The direction of your life is determined by your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and reactions. Self-awareness is the principal way of understanding and manipulating these things.
Self-awareness highlights faulty beliefs and emotional reactions that stand in your way and gives you the power to make adjustments.
Self-awareness illuminates the real reasons for past failures and challenges. We often dismiss our failures as bad luck or a lack of proper timing. It's much more likely that you failed to perceive the situation, others, and yourself accurately. It's much easier to see the reason behind relationships, work, and other struggles when you can look at yourself.
Do you consistently struggle at work or in your relationships? It's only logical to conclude that you're doing something ineffectively.
Those who lack self-awareness are puzzled by their negative outcomes or blame others exclusively.
Self-awareness is a critical quality for leaders. I have noticed with my leadership team that having a high degree of self-awareness was the best judge of success.
Business leaders that have an understanding of their weaknesses can build a team composed of members that fill those weaknesses.
A lack of self-awareness puts a limit on your leadership abilities.
Self-awareness is the foundation for personal progress. Without it, any personal development efforts will be severely hampered. Building greater self-awareness won't happen overnight, but it can be developed.
How to Develop Self-Awareness
Build your self-awareness one step at a time:
You can write your philosophy. Think about it and then document your views on life, your goals, and your intentions. You might be surprised by what you write. This is a great first step for understanding yourself and your beliefs.
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. How do you know? Are you certain? Avoid jumping to conclusions. You may have always believed that you're a hard worker, but are you? To whom are you comparing yourself? Provide yourself with the proof before you make any decisions.
What would others say about you? Consider how your partner, children, friends, family, co-workers, and boss would describe you. What would they suggest you improve about yourself? Then ask them and see how accurate you are. Do you know how others perceive you? Find out how perceptive you are.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about developing a better awareness of the present moment and yourself. Mindfulness is an ideal activity for enhancing self-awareness.
Practice mindfulness at least once each day; you can start with just a minute or two in the morning. Spend the rest of the day paying attention to yourself, others, and your surroundings. You can develop a higher degree of self-awareness by just paying attention.
Question yourself throughout the day. "What am I attempting to achieve?" "What emotions am I currently feeling, and why?" "What are the people around me feeling?"
Self-awareness is the cornerstone of success and self-improvement. Without self-awareness, the knowledge you possess can't be applied effectively. It's necessary to understand your beliefs, habits, strengths, and weaknesses to make a personal change.
Avoid assuming that you're self-aware. Give it some time and thought. Too often, people take this skill for granted. Self-awareness is a skill, one that takes time and effort to make better. Everyone thinks they are self-aware, so they don't have to work on it. Don't make this assumption.
Deepening the understanding of one's self and the influence they have on the world around them remains paramount to successful leadership. Therefore, to avoid the pitfalls of misguided leadership, self-awareness is a skill that must be practiced often. A self-aware leader not only empowers themselves, but the entire unit as they foster esprit de corps, collaboration, and organizational commitment. Life is easier when you're self-aware.