Article: Leadership – Self-Awareness

Ravi Kathuria Executive Coaching Leave a Comment

YOU WILL NOT BE A GREAT LEADER
— UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND YOURSELF

Many executives who find themselves in leadership positions, assume they must be good or even great leaders. However, leadership is a difficult challenge that requires constant vigil. It is similar to participating in the bull riding sport at the annual Rodeo. The belligerent bull represents the ever-changing circumstances leaders face, and the body of the rider represents the executive’s sense of where he or she is. To ride the bull and to be a great leader, you have to manage circumstances and be acutely self-aware.

Leadership Journey

How well are you progressing on your leadership journey? How well have you grown as a leader in the last year? If you haven’t asked yourself that question, you are shortchanging your organization, team and yourself. If you believe you know all there is to know about leadership, you probably are in more need of learning than any other leader. Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.

Becoming Self-Aware

Leadership is as much about you as it is about others. It is the mechanism through which you may ultimately transform yourself. If you fail to keep discovering more about who you are, you will fail to keep improving as a leader. Being self-aware is one of the most important characteristics of a leader. Few executives possess the ability to see their own actions and thoughts in a dispassionate manner. As a result, they never realize how they are being swayed by their emotions of greed, fear, jealousy, insecurity, hubris and ego. We have emotions and past experiences buried multiple layers deep in our minds. In many cases, we never realize why we react to circumstances in ways completely contrary to the values we subscribe to.

Many CEOs who stoutly claimed integrity as one of their core values in public presentations, could not prevent themselves from cheating their companies and shareholders. In those situations, their emotions overcame their intellect. It is worth repeating, leadership is as much about you as it is about others. Unless you understand the layers within yourself, you will be a superficial leader at best.

Some basic questions to start with: How much of your own Kool-Aid are you drinking? What aspects of your personality prevents others from contributing fully to your initiatives? Which areas of work you refuse to let go even though they are not your strengths? How honest have you been about your weaknesses, and how are you working to address them? How willing are you to accept responsibility for your actions and thinking, and how open are you to changing yourself? How aware are you of the unintended consequences of your actions, thinking and directions?

Leadership is about connecting with others at a fundamental level. If you are a superficial leader, you might be able to push your subordinates to perform their tasks, however, you won’t be able to find a way to motivate them to follow you and stay with you through difficult times. Their association with you will be strictly opportunistic.

Passion not Obsession

You must have passion, not obsession. It is a fine line. When you are blindly in love with yourself, your position, company or product, that’s when you are most likely to commit a big, fatal mistake.

Like the Rodeo rider, be aware of yourself, otherwise the metaphorical bull of circumstances will throw you off its back.

— By Ravi Kathuria, Author, “How Cohesive is Your Company?”

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