How well do you know yourself? I mean really know yourself. Do others see you that way? You can be successful in a profession and not have a high level of self-awareness, but not in leadership. You need to understand yourself first to understand others better.
Self-awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires. So how do you develop and leverage self-awareness?
- Hone in on your strengths.
Developing high self-awareness starts by acknowledging that we are only good at a few things. That means we’re not good at everything. Do you know and are you confident in what you are good at? At Marco, we use tools such as DiSC and StrengthsFinder to help us better understand how we’re wired. Self-aware leaders play to their strengths and augment their weaknesses.
- Be mentorable.
Be okay with the fact that you don’t know everything. At any age, we need to be open to candid feedback and seek out people in our lives who we know will provide it. Remember, not everyone is mentorable. Good leaders will use this valuable feedback as part of their professional development. You may want to consider a personal or professional coach. Who are your people?
- Be aware of non-verbals.
Body language can send a powerful message. Mind what your non-verbals are saying and be aware of the non-verbals others are sending. Eye contact, body posture and something as simple as a head nod or jotting down a note all provide valuable information. Most people are better at reading others than themselves. Both are necessary elements of increasing your self-awareness. What’s not being said?
- Mirror and match.
You cannot change your personality – or the personality of someone else. But you can modify your behavior. For example, I’m fairly easily distracted. So to stay focused at meetings, I choose to sit in the front of the room and take notes. Our style also needs to change based on who we are interacting with. I like to socialize, but when I know the person I am connecting with doesn’t and is more analytical, I cut down on the small talk and try to pay attention to the facts and details. How well do you mirror and match?
- Check your emotions.
We all have emotions. There will be times when we need to show our emotions less or show them more. During the recession, times got tough and it was a stressful time to be a leader. It weighed on me. I was worried. But as a leader, I needed to check those emotions at the door, stay focused on where we were headed and continue to build confidence in that. As leaders, we needed to be strong and make the hard decisions. How well do you manage your emotions?
Self-awareness is not necessarily an easy journey. Sometimes you are not going to like everything you see, and you may need to change and adapt. Growing professionals have growing levels of self-awareness. And the best leaders are helping their team members uncover and increase their self-awareness, too. When we understand ourselves first, we can interact with and lead others better.