If you want to lead others well, you’ve got to start by leading you. Leading yourself to become a better leader and a better person requires humility, commitment, and self-awareness. Today, I’m focusing on the self-awareness piece.
None of us can see ourselves clearly. We need people outside of us who are willing to tell us the truth in love. We need to be radically honest with ourselves – Where are we weak? Where do we need to grow? If you can’t quickly name at least 3 weaknesses you’re working on right now, you’re missing out on your growth as a leader.
Here are some suggestions to enhance your self-awareness. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts. It’s never fun to be confronted with our character defects. But the truth beats self-deception. Only by seeing the truth can you change and become better!
Step 1: Ask trustworthy people what you could do better. Try friends, co-workers, bosses, your spouse—or all of the above. Don’t put them on the spot. Give them some advance notice so they have time to think about it, process it. Be careful how you word the question. Not, “Are there some things I could do better?” (yes or no question, makes it too easy to say no). Ask “What are some specific things I could do to make me a better leader?” Don’t settle for a “nothing—you’re great!” Press in until you get at least one constructive response.
Step 2: Thank them for their honesty. It’s hard to give honest feedback! Don’t bite their head off or get defensive. You are here to learn. Once you’ve demonstrated humility and self-control in your response, it’s time to take some time to process their feedback. Were you already aware of this weak spot? How do you think it might be present in other areas of your life? Once you’ve done some introspection, it’s time for step 3.
Step 3: Create a plan for change. Ask for accountability. Have your leadership coach check your progress at each meeting. Tell a friend to text you once a week to ask how you’re doing with your patience/attitude/communication, etc… Create a plan to improve, share it with at least one other person, and watch your leadership capabilities rise with each new improvement.