I was having a conversation with the President of a local company and he asked me why I thought he was in his role. Though he’s been in the position quite awhile, and well before we starting working together….still, I did have an educated opinion.
Because as a leader, he strives to continuously focus on learning, he works on self awareness, he is vulnerable in exploring his mindset and behaviors. He’s consistently asking for my feedback on his effectiveness or approach (not in a way that is based on self doubt or a lack of confidence, moreso in the quest for clarity, focus and impact). And these are qualities that I both admire and believe are critical to leadership effectiveness. They are the reasons I believe he is in his role. Someone else saw and valued this qualities and characteristics and put him in a position to use them.
He also asked me what differentiated leaders (those that are good to great) and I passionately believe it is these things…..emotional intelligence, specifically high self awareness and self management, coupled with continuous learning is a game changer. Because most leaders already have the technical knowledge, or they wouldn’t be in their role. That alone doesn’t inspire or motivate others but a focus on constant personal, professional and business improvement does.
So if you are a leader, or an aspiring one, focus on self awareness first. This is the foundation of personal and interpersonal effectiveness. This means a constant monitoring of your inner and outer worlds. What’s going on in your mind and what’s going on around you (that is affecting you whether you realize it or not).
What’s the big deal?
1. So you can be deliberate about using your strengths
2. In order to examine your unconscious thoughts and how they translate into your beliefs, habits and actions
3. To be able to recognize the areas that can potentially derail you, or to take you away from your goals and aspirations
4. Because high emotional intelligence has been shown to increase professional success and high performance (AND a higher salary!!).
The irony is the challenge in getting it. Or even understanding that it’s important. Because if you lack it, well, that’s the point. I see this in leadership training and coaching all the time. Helping others to understand their strengths and their development areas. Self awareness doesn’t mean all the things that need improvement, it’s also about the things you do well. Knowing them and intentionally using them, leveraging them.
How to increase self awareness:
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman
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