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Bringing the Leader Inside You to the Surface

Becoming a leader – or a better leader – requires a particular element: self-awareness.

Learning more about what self-awareness is and what it requires, it becomes clear why this is critical to leadership.

What is being self-aware?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, self-awareness is an awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.

That is pretty basic and actually uses one of the words in the hyphenated word in the definition – which is not very helpful.

A better definition to describe what having self-awareness is: It’s having an understanding of your strong and weak points, your preferred working, learning and engagement styles and perhaps even your potential. In plain terms: it’s really having a good handle on who you are.

When we know these things about ourselves, we can better develop what lies inside – including that leader that may be just waiting for the right circumstance to reveal itself – or it may be waiting on you to recognize it.

Self-awareness is a very important leader and team dynamic. Actually – if you think about it – self-awareness is an important people dynamic.

Developing self-awareness requires some things of us.

Take the time to reflect. To look back on what has taken place and figure out how to improve the circumstance the next time it arises.

These question will help:

  • What went well?
  • What might I have done differently?
  • What did I learn about myself?
  • What did I learn about others?
  • How could I use what I have learned?
  • What are my next steps?

Keeping a journal of your answers each time you ask these questions is also helpful.

Officially determining your “tendencies” is important. Even if you “think” you know what you prefer, high-quality personality or behavioral inventory tests can uncover tendencies that are less obvious or that we’ve simply ignored. This process can also help to identify destructive behaviors that you can at on.

Part of your personality or behavioral inventory will help you to understand how and when you’re overusing or abusing a strength. This can be very critical to your ability to be effective as a leader.

Keep feedback flowing. Seek out the individuals around you who are willing to give you honest, constructive feedback. When you find them, listen, ask questions, and take notes.

The most critical thing here to is find out what you can learn. And then figure out how to respond to this information.

If you develop self-awareness in your inner leader, you will be able to consistently respond in mindful ways when challenges arise instead of having knee-jerk reactions.

Self-aware leaders are better leaders because they understand who they are and how they think.

Read the entire article contributed to National AfterSchool Association eNewsletter by Tamara Rosier, Ph. D., Acorn Leadership Coach & Principal.


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