If you’re a leadership and productivity geek like me, you probably know that thought leaders and scholars the world over have conducted mountains of research to answer the question: What are the characteristics of great leaders?
I’d like to suggest that we are never qualified as a “great leader” without one particular and crucial trait for success.
In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that this is the one leadership quality any person aspiring to lead others, absolutely must add to their personal development plan in 2017. What is this trait that great leaders must discover and hone? Self-awareness. And I believe it is a learned skill.
Self-awareness requires each of us to assess not only our own strengths but also our shortcomings, limitations and blind spots. What you don’t know about yourself might be limiting your relationships, leadership, and joy. The lack of self-awareness most certainly increases stress, tension and productivity.
So where do you start in your quest for accurately assessing your self-awareness?
Thanks for asking…Let’s start with a few questions. Ask yourself…
- Why do the same issues keep coming up over and over in my business, marriage, friendships, health, or life?
- Why do I respond to situations with anger, fear, optimism, or withdrawal? And once identified, address them.
- What makes me think, act, and feel the way I do? Especially when I feel defeated or negative thoughts take control of my mind.
- What makes me get up in the morning? What pushes me to give more of myself?
- What tasks are torture to me? What are those things that drive me to procrastination?
But first, get over yourself! We all have strengths. We all have weaknesses. It is when we primarily function in our strengths that we discover contentment and fulfillment. That fulfillment is then greatly increased when we surround ourselves with people that are strong in our weakness and weak in our strengths. We were created by the Divine to live in community and in need of other folks that make us better and we in kind make them better. That never happens apart from a healthy self-awareness.
Ego and entitlement need not apply–it works against increased self-awareness. As we get introspective about some fault or shortcoming we have, we need to handle the obstacle of denial. Denial is a powerful detriment to personal development, and it can keep even the brightest and most successful people stuck. It can be the greatest hurdle that we face in becoming a healthy, self-aware leader. Remember that the brighter your strength, the more glaring your weakness is.
I think we’re all pretty much guilty of that at some point or another in our careers. We all have egos that need to be stroked, fears and insecurities that need to be smoothed. And we all have emotions that need to be tamed and tucked away.
Many of us don’t realize that success may be just around the corner but first we need to humbly acknowledge the blind spots that need to be identified and overcome. Once you identify those blind spots, this effort will be one of the biggest wins of your life. And your family, friends, and relationships will thank you for it.
Just in case you are pondering the validity of this exercise, here are a few thoughts from Scripture to encourage you.
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
Galatians 6:3 “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
And for good measure, let’s all take a deep breath and remember that Jesus had a lot to say about great leaders. He said that “if you want to be great, you must become a servant.” The true measure of self-worth and self-awareness is found in our willingness to serve, not in who serves us.
Stay Cool, Chuck