In the realm of personal leadership development and growth, self-awareness stands as a pivotal cornerstone. An individual leader's ability to comprehend their feelings, motivations, desires, strengths, and weaknesses significantly impacts their life choices, relationships, and overall well-being.
In Chapter 2 of Where Leadership Begins, I comprehensively explore this crucial concept.
I put forth the idea that self-awareness is the first step toward self-improvement. Only when we understand our current state can we identify areas of improvement and subsequently take steps to better ourselves. Without self-awareness, we remain oblivious to our flaws and strengths, inhibiting personal growth.
In the book, I leverage the Johari Window model to illustrate the concept of self-awareness. This model divides self-awareness into four quadrants - open, facade, blind, and unknown.
The open quadrant represents aspects of ourselves that we and others are aware of. The facade quadrant signifies parts we are aware of but choose to keep from others. The blind quadrant refers to aspects that others see in us but are unaware of, and the unknown quadrant denotes aspects that neither we nor others are genuinely aware of.
To elevate self-awareness, it's suggested to expand the open quadrant. This expansion can be achieved through two key actions – self-disclosure and soliciting feedback. Self-disclosure involves sharing more about ourselves with others, thereby reducing the facade quadrant. Soliciting feedback consists of seeking others' perspectives about us, thereby decreasing the blind quadrant.
The chapter further delves into the benefits of self-awareness. Self-awareness enhances our ability to manage our emotions, make better decisions, maintain healthier relationships, communicate more effectively, and lead more fulfilling lives. Self-awareness also helps us understand the values and principles we live by.
Much like a map, self-awareness and values together help give us the coordinates of our starting point. Values are essential in your approach to choosing to lead. They are an enduring belief that a particular end or mean is preferable to a different ending or meaning.
Essentially, your values are what you choose to consider to be essential or not important. Ray Dalio contends in his book Principles that individuals possess the same number of values to a large extent but to different degrees. Mainly, everyone values peace, for example, but some choose to make it a higher priority than others.
Perhaps more important is your direct reports' perception of your values. Their perceptions of what you value profoundly influence their motivation, confidence, and choice to follow you. To lead others effectively, it's critical to clearly define your values and establish a baseline for how others perceive your values.
Dave Ulrich, a luminary in the Human Resources field, recently posted a LinkedIn article on The Value of Values: Shaping the Future of Work through Human Capability. In his article, he bolsters my previous point by sharing the following:
"Value of Values for Leaders and Leadership
Perhaps the simplest and most intuitive test of an effective leader is how often one leaves an interaction with the leader feeling better about oneself.
While individual leaders are wisely encouraged to demonstrate character by living their values (called authenticity, emotional intelligence, credibility, and trust), if their values do not create value for others, they fail to use their power to empower others. Leaders are ultimately known for their impact on others when they help others recognize and live their values."
To determine your values, consider the Values Discovery Card Deck to sort through what you value.
However, I also acknowledge the challenges in developing self-awareness. It requires courage to confront our fears and insecurities, humility to accept our flaws, and vulnerability to ask for and receive feedback. It is an ongoing process that demands continuous effort and patience.
I conclude Chapter 2 with practical strategies to cultivate self-awareness. These include practices like the Values Discovery Process, self-reflection, mindfulness, journaling, and seeking professional help like leadership coaching. It also emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for self-exploration.
Consider picking up the whole launch bundle and reading the entire book.