In a recent HBR article “Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can” the co-authors wrote, “if the linear MBA-trained logic becomes the sole focus — at the cost of other skills, like self-awareness and understanding others and the culture — the leadership approach is out of balance.”
Balance is a choice.
You can only deeply understand this concept that “balance is a choice”, when you are self-aware. The ability to look at yourself in the mirror like who you really are from day to day requires courage, humility, practice, self-compassion, maturity and commitment; and the rewards are huge.
Competing priorities is an age-old universal challenge and at the end of the day, we are the ones who take (or not) the actions. When we are not aware of what our thoughts, words and actions are saying as a whole and/or the level of impact they have every day, how can we expect to gain the power over consciously choosing that balance?
As we know, our actions speak loudly to our core priorities more than our words, and our deepest thoughts drive our behaviors. In turn, our words are an invaluable tool to speak to the gap between what we say we want and how we act. To get to that level, we need to stop and take the time to observe ourselves without judgment, while simultaneously picking up on the clues our surrounding subtly or loudly give back to us.
For example: Known for increasing productivity, one of the biggest opportunities we see within organizations is practicing effective communication. 95% of the executives and managers I coach have some version of a communication goal either themselves or their boss want them to work towards. All depending of the level of self-awareness and engagement of the leader, it is typically between the 2nd or 4th session that the priority conversation shows up and we get to dig and bring to light what REALLY is in the driver’s seat. Those ah-ha moments are defining because we get to the source of why their actions are not in alignment with what they say they want. It is only from there that we can reinvent behaviors and create a new leadership balance. Everything else prior remains mechanical.
Here are 3 small ways to kick-start or deepen your self-awareness journey:
1- Read a new book on self-awareness that speaks to you and apply the concepts in your work environment. (Remember that knowledge is power only in the sharing and application of it. Anything other than that like is like keeping a book full of dust.)
2- Take Tasha Eurich’s assessment on the 4 Self-Awareness archetypes here. It is fun, simple and will give you a fresh starting point.
3- At the end of each day for one month, ask yourself these 3 simple questions:
1). What worked in my leadership today?
2). What did not work in my leadership today?
3). What could I have done differently?
i. After the month, you will see trends and clues on the next thing you might want to consider working on. If you do not see anything or are not sure, get in touch with me with your findings and I will point you to it.
One sure way to take the pulse on our level of self-awareness is by the amount of power we give to things, people and/or events we get triggered by. There are no human beings on this planet that gets triggered by nothing. Not even the Dalai Lama. I will always remember listening to one of his podcast a couple of years ago with him saying, “I get angry too sometime”. I was quite relieved to know that being self-aware did not mean that eventually one would never feel anger, frustration or fear anymore. We are humans after all!
Ultimately, the more we take look at ourselves in the mirror when we get triggered by something and answer the question “what do I make it mean about me?”; the more power we have over how we are committed to show up in the world, and can bridge the gap between the leader we are today with the leader we always dreamed to be.
For more on self-awareness, read: “What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It).