Lead with Self-Awareness

“When we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.”— Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund 1972.
Being a great leader is an art. Management degrees provide the framework to consulting, project development, or organisation but the most critical component that allows efficient utilisation of these skills is not taught. It comes to no surprise that leading institutions, such as Harvard Business School, believe that self-awareness is more fruitful than qualifications.
Self-awareness is exactly as it sounds. It is a higher consciousness about whyone feels, thinks, or acts the way they do: a method of critically analysing one’s self. It stems from emotional intelligence and can be argued as being consciously aware of your subconscious being. When people say they need to ‘find themselves’ — they don’t need to go far. Whatever answers you’re looking for lie within you.
How will self awareness help in the work place? Cornell University and Green Peak Partners carried out a study and found that ‘A high self awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success’. Therefore, to be successful in leadership, it doesn’t start with your team or colleagues, but you. This will harness more sustainability in whatever project you decide to pursue.
  1. Self-awareness will increase emotional intelligence. This is key to being able to engage with your members and provide morale effectively. If you understand what motivates you to complete mundane tasks, that will in-turn increase your ability to drive your team appropriately. This could also increase the likelihood of encouraging your team to reach the flow state.
  2. Pay attention to how people approach you and what they say. Hear them the way you want to be heard by actively listening. Communication skills is far more than just stating the point you want to get across. It encompasses listening as well. Furthermore, respond how you would like to be spoken to. It is not what you say, it is how you say it. Objectively critiquing your colleagues is vital for favourable results. However, if you come off superior, negative, and demeaning, your colleagues are less likely to perform at their best and approach you in the future.
  3. Know your team. Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of your team before administrating tasks to the individuals. Expecting unrealistic outcomes from members who clearly will prevail in other departments is unfair and will eliminate any chance of them entering the flow state. In addition, a poor leader will be quick shift the blame onto their peers, usually due to being very reactive to situations. Anger rarely motivates people to do better in all situations, even outside the workplace. This is where it is important to self-reflect and understand why something truly upsets you and healthier ways of managing those emotions. Always remember your colleagues are on your side- they are working for and with you. A positive outcome for you is a positive outcome for everyone.
  4. Better relationships. Strong relationships are the backbone to a high-performing team. As much as it is vital for colleagues to grow into their best form, rewarding them after reaching certain milestones is essential. It can be as simple as bringing donuts into the workplace, a pat on the back, or going out for a dinner. Allowing emotional bonds to form and showing the empathetic side of a leader is crucial to ensure that individuals are comfortable, heard, and validated. It brings authenticity and purpose into the workplace which many poor-performing institutions lack.
Leadership stretches far beyond professional experience and qualifications. It is realisation that even a leader is human.
Thank you for reading.

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