Thanks to growing discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion, the concept of “self-awareness” has become more commonly understood, specifically in relation to identifying our implicit biases. This kind of insight is powerful, and can transform our thinking if we do something with the information it brings to bear.
In the same way, when we as leaders become more aware of our tendencies, habits, strengths, and, yes, even our weaknesses, we have that same power to affect the organizations we lead. Knowing our strengths is easy – these are usually the traits that got us into leadership roles in the first place. Identifying our natural tendencies and even our (ahem) weaknesses, however, is another thing entirely. Great leadership requires our awareness of both.
Being objective when it comes to your own self-awareness can be tricky, especially with identifying areas our leadership is lacking. Daily journaling is one of the best ways to do this, as it allows you to take a step back to process situations and your feelings/responses with a big-picture perspective. We at Bright Places believe this practice is so important, that we’ve developed our Leadership Journal – a free resource available to our newsletter subscribers. In addition to guidance for weekly goal setting and professional development, the Leadership Journal provides the space for you to identify your triggers and patterns so you can adjust your responses to them where necessary.
Asking for feedback is another way to objectively collect information about opportunities for your own improvement. Whether it’s a casual conversation in the break room or a formal review, honest feedback from your peers or those under your management is invaluable (albeit sometimes a little terrifying). Take in the information you receive with an open mind (and, in some cases, a grain of salt), and try not to get defensive.
At this point, while you may be considering hiring a completely new staff, let’s evaluate other options for what to do next with your shiny, new self-awareness. Hone in on one issue at a time. If you’ve learned that your organizational skills are lacking, focus on identifying tools and workshops that could bolster your performance in this area. Sites such as LinkedIn Learning are an incredible resource for a broad spectrum of professional development topics just like this one.
Even so, we will never be able to eradicate all of the weaknesses in our leadership. For those areas in which not even the most charismatic facilitator can throw us a life preserver, look at your deficiency in a different way. Could your weakness open a door for another member of your team to shine through? Consider how greater collaboration with your team may possibly alleviate the pressure in that area.
Ultimately, identifying the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of how we lead our organizations is not a quick, one-time process. Self-awareness means we are constantly evolving and finding new ways to improve. Only when we commit to moving forward do we have the potential to be the kind of leader we truly want to be, as well as the kind of leader our teams deserve.
Looking for some weekly encouragement as a leader? Check out our Leadership Journal for inspiration and practical tools to help elevate the way you lead.