Rita Medcalf, director of First Position, talks about how understanding yourself can help you become a better leader.
Such a statement may invoke strong feelings, often implying selfishness and a lack of interest in others. In reality, one of the effects of a focus on oneself is an increased appreciation of others. As we uncover our own defaults, strategies and drivers we develop our awareness of the existence of such patterns and their power to help and hinder. Hopefully our discoveries encourage us to look for those patterns in others so that we may better understand them and increase our effectiveness in communicating.
When it comes to leadership, knowing more about yourself enables you to be anything but selfish. By understanding yourself better you learn to appreciate others more. Reams of research, and experience gathered through our leadership masterclassess and development programmes, confirms that learning more about yourself is pivotal to becoming a better leader. In fact, I would say that the best thing you can do to improve your effectiveness as a leader is to become more self-aware. Having a clearer understanding of what motivates you, how your decision-making process works and what is driving your behaviours is an essential part of the leader’s toolkit,
Of course, as human beings we are complex creatures and it’s likely that however well we think we know ourselves today, we will be constantly surprised as who we are does not remain static. We are a continuously evolving system with varying degrees of consistency.
There are many aspects of ‘who you are’ worthy of consideration with respect to the impact on your leadership style and prowess, as well as your personal contentment and satisfaction. Of course, sometimes we get so caught up in things and we are so busy we can lose sight of this important area of development.
At its most basic it’s about understanding where you are strong and not so strong, where you are confident and where you are more vulnerable. To do this requires openness, honesty, disclosure and an element of risk taking. In demonstrating that you don’t have all the answers and are far from the finished article you will hopefully find those who are willing to devote time and energy to your cause and give you that invaluable external perspective. To gain insight into how others are experiencing your behaviours can be incredibly useful. To get the most from this rich seam of feedback one has to be proactive, something not always witnessed from leaders concerned with their image and status. One clarion call would be to seek more feedback.
So, here are four simple steps for you to put into practice to continue to develop this all-important skill of self awareness.
- Develop your understanding of what’s important to you – your values, passion and desires,
- Identify your empowering and limiting beliefs – recognising that they are merely things that are true for you at this point in time
- Acknowledge that your values and beliefs are strong filters. Continually look for things you may be missing and explore alternative perspectives to get a fuller, richer experience.
- Recognise your patterns, habits and default behaviours (self exploration and feedback from others helps to highlight blind-spots)
Above all take responsibility for you. Take a moment now to reflect on your day. Pop on a hat for a moment that says ‘its all about me’. Ask yourself: What did I do that resulted in me getting the results I got today? What did I do that meant I didn’t get the outcomes I wanted? What could I do differently next time to achieve a different result?
If you are someone considering your Leadership development and perhaps stepping up top a CEO role. The ACEVO Emerging Leaders Programme may be the right route to help you boost your self awareness https://www.acevo.org.uk/event/emerging-leaders-programme-2017-0
Rita Neligan Medcalf, Director, First Position Performance Development – Leadership Development Partners to ACEVO