3 Steps to Greater Self-Awareness

Most of us have difficulty seeing ourselves as others see us. We can as easily be over-impressed with ourselves as under-impressed. Some of us have over-inflated egos, and others of us are so self-deprecating that we suffer from extremely low self-worth. Both ends of the spectrum are dangerous to our ability to lead well. Self-awareness is being observant enough to know when you’re getting in the way of yourself. Whether you think too highly of yourself or too little, learning to recognize your tendency in either direction will help you lead from a healthier understanding of who you are.

Self-awareness is difficult to measure because we are innately wired for self-deception.

It’s challenging to admit the areas where we are weak, especially when we know they are areas in which we must grow. To be a self-aware leader, you must do a few things consistently:

1) Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know your strengths and own them. The world needs them. But equally know and own your weaknesses. There are just some things that you will never be good at. Be OK with that. Don’t try to overcompensate or cover them up. Others see through it. Do attempt to grow, but relieve yourself of the pressure of perfecting the things you are not good at. Kevin Penry, a friend and remarkable leader, often says, “A sense of inadequacy is the constant companion of self-awareness.” To be self-aware, we must keep ourselves tuned into our inadequacies. That awareness allows us to keep a grasp on our reality and our need for other people.

2) Identify mentors and continuously seek counsel. You will never outgrow the need for wisdom. From whom do you receive regular feedback? Mentors can come in many shapes and forms. Some mentors in my life are peers whom I admire for certain strengths. By getting to know them better, I learn more about how they have developed their strengths. Others are more experienced experts in my field of work.

Often it’s difficult to identify mentors who can commit to ongoing relationships, so I will request a lunch or coffee meeting. In that meeting I seek to glean as much wisdom as I can. If our meeting develops into an ongoing relationship, that’s great, but either way I have learned more than I would have if I had not met with this person at all.

Look for voices in your life that provide consistent and honest input. Who speaks to your spiritual growth, your family life, your character and your performance? Find these voices and seek them out regularly.

3) Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation. Whatever the circumstance that you find yourself in, you played a part in the outcome. What do you need to learn from it? What did you do well? What could you have done better? How did you influence others? Reflecting on key conversations, decisions, actions and outcomes can provide great clarity about how to navigate future situations.

Self-awareness is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership. Know your strengths and weaknesses, identify mentors, and evaluate what you need to “own.” These will be important steps in developing the self-awareness that provides the framework for your personal leadership growth.

 

**Excerpts of this post are from Jenni’s newest book, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership: The Power of Leading from Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength