Self Awareness in Leadership

Self Awareness PhotoMany people in positions of leadership have a pretty good grasp of what to do in their roles, but may be less aware of the importance of their behaviours in effectively leading, motivating and enabling their team members to perform at their best. It’s almost as though people don’t want to accept that leadership behaviours can be learned or improved, but rather that they are in innate part of who we are.

So how do we learn about how we show up to others and how that impacts on our leadership?

Until we are aware of a particular behaviour that we do or don’t do as a leader, it’s pretty difficult to do more or less of it, or change it! Perhaps more importantly, if we are not aware of the impact on others of that behaviour, there is unlikely to be much motivation to try to change.

Some leaders excel at increasing their awareness of how they come across to others and what impact that has, while very many seem to go to great lengths, often subconsciously, to suppress their awareness and avoid learning about the impact of their behaviours.

So how do we increase our awareness of how we frequently act as leaders, rather than seek ways to avoid becoming aware? And how do we learn about the impact of our actions?

Some simple tools can help, but as with most self-development there needs to be a desire and willingness to get engaged in this learning activity:

  1. Be curious about how you come across to others
  2. Choose one of more ways to seek feedback
    1. Survey-based 360 feedback
    2. Interview-based 360 feedback
    3. Feedback from coaching
    4. Feedback through leadership development
    5. 1-to-1 direct feedback (line manager, peers, direct reports)
  3. For the most tangible data, ask for specific feedback from different people using a structured framework to help e.g.
    1. What was the situation you want feedback on?
    2. What specifically did you do or say?
    3. What was the impact on others of what you did or said?
    4. If appropriate, what suggestions does the other person have for you to do more of, less of or differently?
  4. Listen fully to the feedback received and acknowledge the giver
  5. Plan to act on that feedback
  6. Act on the plan – try a different behaviour if required to improve your impact
  7. Seek feedback on the impact of the new behaviour

Finally, be prepared to work at it. We have spent all our lives developing habitual ways of working, so making a change may take some time to translate into a new habit!

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