The Clear Leader: The Importance of Knowing Yourself
As a leadership coach, I often work with clients who are struggling to lead effectively. They come to me feeling overwhelmed, unsure, and lacking direction. And more often than not, the root of their challenges lies in a lack of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a critical component of effective leadership. It means having a deep understanding of your values, strengths, challenges, personality traits, biases, and desired leadership style. With this level of self-awareness, you can lead authentically, make better decisions, and build stronger relationships with those around you.
So how do you gain self-awareness? The first step is to start by reflecting on your own experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. Ask yourself questions like:
- What motivates me?
- What are my core values?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What are my biases?
- How do I respond to stress or conflict?
Once you have a better understanding of yourself, it’s time to solicit feedback from others. Ask trusted colleagues, mentors, and friends for their honest opinions about your leadership style, strengths, and areas for improvement.
But don’t stop there. To truly gain self-awareness, it’s essential to seek out objective data as well. Personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Enneagram can provide valuable insights into your personality traits and tendencies. 360-degree feedback surveys, where you receive anonymous feedback from those who work with you, can also be incredibly illuminating.
I know from personal experience just how transformative this process can be. Earlier in my career, I struggled to find my own leadership style. But by working with the coaches in my Master’s program and going through a process of self-reflection and feedback, I was able to gain a deep understanding of my values, strengths, and areas for improvement. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to lead with greater clarity and purpose and ultimately become a more effective coach and leader. But it doesn’t stop there—to this day I continue to work with a coach to maintain and refine my understanding of self.
In the words of Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”
So if you want to become a better leader, start by getting clear on who you are. Reflect, seek feedback, and gather objective data. With self-awareness as your foundation, you’ll be able to lead with authenticity, build stronger relationships, and achieve greater success.