I've worked with a wide range of leaders in variety of public and private companies and organizations and I frequently get questions about the role of self-awareness in leadership development. I usually answer by saying that there is no such thing as effective leadership without self-awareness. Let's look at some differences between a leader with self-awareness and one who doesn't possess it:
Leader without Self Awareness
Reacts to everything, gets scared often, behaves in a domineering way, corrects employee behavior through punishment, rules through fear, creates chaos in the workplace, promotes high turnover, not emotionally intelligent.
Leader with Self-Awareness
Thinks and behaves proactively, shifts fear into courage, motivates people from within, praises positive behaviors, rules through trust and collaboration, creates a calm work environment, builds a workplace people want to stay at, is highly emotionally intelligent.
The strange thing I've noticed is that virtually every single workplace is like the first example rather than the second because we've become accustomed to leadership without self-awareness. It doesn't have to be that way. When I work with leaders, we look at ways to develop their self-awareness skills, things like:
- Understanding how their emotions, behaviors, and actions affect them, others, and the workplace.
- Recognizing their strengths and areas for improvement.
- Being able to ask for help.
- Being comfortable with employees' emotions.
- Building teams and promoting collaboration.
- Communicating effectively, listening actively.
- Helping people motivate themselves instead of having orders shouted at them.
- Behaving calmly instead of in constant emergency mode.
- Behaving with kindness and empathy.
- Building a highly productive workplace based on trust rather than fear.
- Avoiding micromanaging.
- Healing their own inner hurts instead of getting their stuff on employees.
The key to extraordinary leadership development is to build leaders who are self-aware and do things differently than how most of our workplaces have done them since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We now have the knowledge to create healthy, collaborative workplaces where people get a lot done and do it with a sense of fulfillment and joy instead of coercion and fear. All it takes is deciding to educate your leaders in how to be self-aware, everything else flows from that initial enlightenment.