If you are to become a good leader, self-awareness is something you must develop. In fact, self-awareness is one of the key fundamental building blocks of good leadership.
There are many powerful and wealthy heads of companies in the world who are not good leaders. They are driven by ego and are blind to their own weaknesses. As a result, they do not know themselves well.
As Polonius said in Hamlet,
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
To be true to yourself, you must know yourself. Developing self-awareness will help you in all areas of your life—not just with your team at work, but with your family relationships at home.
Here are three levels of self-awareness to develop as you progress as a leader.
Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” If it’s all about you, then you won’t get much done. But if you are willing to share the credit with others, then you will end up getting a lot done.
People want to be part of something larger than themselves. When they feel like they are contributing and seeing progress, then they are more likely to want to stay at it. But a leader who doesn’t see the team’s need to be recognized will lose their team very quickly.
Here are three things to implement a team culture by focusing on giving credit to others on the team.
Leadership starts with understanding your starting point and your ending point. By having a proper perspective, you can chart your course. Otherwise, you will end up like Alice taking directions from the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland.
Too many business leaders set their course like the way Alice asked for guidance from the Cheshire Cat.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
In effect, the Cheshire Cat says that if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there. And too many businesses function in that environment.
If you don’t have a good perspective of where you are and you are going, then you won’t be able to get there. While that sounds obvious, too many businesses don’t have a process for getting to where they want to go.
Here’s a three-step process to determine the perspective needed for seeing clearly enough to chart the course for your business.
True success in the workplace doesn’t look like what most people expect it to look like. They think it means occupying the corner office. Having lots of money. Being a powerful individual. But that’s not true success looks like.
Jesus said that the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). That model of leadership applies not only to the realm of faith, but also to the realm of business.
Here’s what true success looks like in the workplace.
I have a relative whose job at one time was to find all the problems with all the big equipment the company was trying to design. In effect, he had to expose all the design flaws in what the designers were trying to build and show why it would not work. From an economic perspective, it was important for him to find why it wouldn’t work out before they would actually start building it. From a safety perspective, it was important for them not to create something that would end up malfunctioning. As a result of faithfully doing his job, he got tagged with the nickname of “Dr. No” because of his default answer.
As a leader, you are tugged in different directions all the time. Some people want you to do one thing, and others want you to do something else. You are constantly being asked to do things that are outside the scope of your focus. And your default answer must be “no.”
It’s not easy saying “no.” But that’s why you’re the leader. It’s important for you to focus on where you know you need to go. You can’t do what others will suggest most of the time. That’s why you have to be prepared to say “no” most of the time.
There are three reasons why your default answer must be “no.”
After I recently guest lectured to MBA students at a local university, one of the students asked me a question about alignment. I explained that one of the most important things for a leader to do is to be able to connect long-term goals to short-term actions. And leaders can do that best when they can share the big picture.
As a leader, it is imperative that you always remind your team why they are there. Help them to understand the purpose behind your company. Give them a reason to see that the little actions they do every day are important to accomplishing a bigger goal. Help them to see that they are many artists contributing to one masterpiece.
No job is exciting all the time. There are times that every job will have its drudgery. You can either inspire your people to put in their best efforts in even the drudgery, or you can let them trudge on their own just for their paycheck. It’s your choice whether you will help your people see only the little areas they are contributing, or if you will help them see how they are contributing to the big picture.
Here are three ways you can remind your team of the big picture when they are trudging through their daily grind.
When I was a new manager, I had the hardest time giving constructive feedback to my assistant. When it was time to share with her what she needed to know to help her improve, I couldn’t even get the words out. It was so difficult for me to say, that I had to try multiple times just to be able to tell her—because I was too concerned about saying what she might have thought was bad news.
My early days as a manager showed one extreme of improper communication in giving performance reviews. Other managers think that yelling the hard truth is the best way to give bad news. They think that it’s OK to say whatever they think needs to be said, without thinking about what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of what they said. Clearly both extremes are not helpful.
So how should we give bad news? What’s the best way to help employees improve? Here are four tips for how to say what needs to be said, even if it’s bad news.
Do you think innovation or productivity is more important? Here’s a better way to ask that question: Would you rather work smarter or harder?
Forcing a choice of innovation or productivity is a false choice. Innovation will lead to productivity. But certain factors need to be in place in order to have an innovative workplace.
Here’s why you should focus on innovation instead of productivity in your workplace.
Assembling the right team is essential to having a thriving workplace. It is important to know what you need when hiring your key positions. Unless you are extremely self-aware, you might not know what you need to balance out your strengths. That’s why diversity is a key component of any human resources strategy.
Diversity doesn’t just have to be limited to what people look like on the outside. While that is helpful to assembling a strong team, it’s important to go deeper than that. It’s essential to know how to hire based on what your team looks like on the inside.
Here are three things to think through when applying diversity to hiring your key team members.
Many have debated the importance of hard skills and soft skills. When I went to school, everyone seemed to believe that hard skills were most important. Students had to focus on mastering the specific skills required for their particular profession. But today people change not just jobs, but professions—many times over—during their career. As a result, hard skills have been dethroned from their place of prominence. Now soft skills reign supreme.
Don’t misunderstand me: hard skills are still important. A surgeon must know how to operate on someone without them bleeding to death. People must know what they’re talking about as a practitioner in their field. But becoming proficient in the soft skills of people relations will serve you well as you change professions during your career.
Here are three soft skills that are important for you to master as a leader, regardless of the profession you choose.