Being a Self Aware Leader

Understanding what makes a good leader is an important study and one we’ve touched on a number of times on Purposeful Woman including the article The Secrets of Women in Leadership.and Strategic Influence, A Necessary Leadership Skill.

However, I just stumbled upon an article that suggests women become self aware of their leadership strengths and opportunities. It is a great exercise entitled 7 Self Awareness Techniques to be a Better Leader. It can be hard holding up a mirror to our abilities, but those that are most self aware bring the strongest skill set to the table.

It isn’t the leader who knows all and can do all that is the best – it is the leader that understands their weaknesses and surrounds themselves with the best of the best that actually is the most successful.

In the article, author Nicole Fallon, suggests seven areas to review – but I want to shine a spotlight on just a few:

  • Set boundaries. A leader needs to have strong boundaries in place. Be warm toward others, but say no when you need to say no. Be serious about your work and your passions, and keep your boundaries firm to maintain the integrity of your goals and the work you put into them. 
  • Know your emotional triggers. Self-aware individuals are able to identify their emotions as they are happening. Don’t repress your emotions or deny their causes; instead, be able to bend and flex with them, and fully process them before communicating with others.
  • Keep an open mind. When you have the ability to regulate your own emotional world, you can be attuned the emotions of others. To be a successful leader, you have to be curious about new people and all they have to offer. This shows that you can be a team player, and don’t need to be No. 1. The more open you are to others, the more creative you become. 
     

These three areas are ones we don’t normally talk about – setting boundaries means that we have to say no and run the risk of disappointing someone. Women professional struggle with this, thus the reason we find ourselves over committed. We say things like “If you want it done right the first time, you have to do it yourself.” Or something like “They asked me and it is a worthy cause, how could I say no?”

Know your emotional triggers. I have encountered professional women that are led by the “shoulds” of their life; guilt is one of their strongest emotions. If this is the case for you, you may have a difficult time if someone triggers that emotional need you have to please; thus taking you down a path contrary to the direction you know the business must take. Be aware – we all have emotional triggers – but be aware so that you can be prepared.

Last, have an open mind. Phrases like “but that is how we’ve always done it” are less likely to lead your team onto success. Also, be aware that the least likely employee might be sitting on the best idea for growth for your company. Keeping an open mind to people, ideas, scenarios, tools and resources.

Enlist the Aid Of Trusted Confidantes

Finally, as part of your self assessment be aware that others might be able to help in the process. Some times we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. Additionally, we may not be able to step back and see what our strongest abilities truly are. Consider asking a few business associates that you trust to help you in the process of becoming more self aware. Ask them:

  • What do you see as my biggest strength?
  • Where do you see that I have opportunities for growth?
  • What type of leader am I?

Listen closely to their responses. Are you surprised? Pleased? Disappointed? Take the emotion out of the evaluation and use the new information to help you improve your leadership abilities.