By E. Elizabeth Carter
Before one can become a leader, it is imperative to be aware of one’s own self. Too many leaders are not aware of how they behave and then are surprised when their interactions and relationships with others are not as fruitful as they can be. In addition, the way these leaders perceive themselves under normal circumstances and under stress are not necessarily the way others perceive them.
When I was a business communications major in college, one of my textbooks had an interesting quote that I always think about – “There is no such thing as reality. Reality is what you perceive thus your perception of life is your reality.” The issue here is that your reality may not be the reality of the organization, your family, and others you have relationships with, and if you are not cognizant of the interplay between everyone’s reality decisions will be made that have a negative impact.
To be more aware of yourself, start by asking others – not only what they admire about you but also what bad traits you have. It is necessary to also ask how your behavior affects them both positively and negatively. Most likely you will agree with the majority of what they say but sometimes we are blinded by some of the things we do because they have become routine/habits for us.
Once your list is created, hone in on one or two things that you need to change. As an example, Tom needs to improve his listening skills. When he is leading a meeting, he tends to focus only when he is speaking but tunes out others when it is their turn. This has created many misunderstandings on the expectations of certain projects and the overall direction the company is headed. Once Tom completed his awareness assessment with others, he realized that this behavior was adding undue stress to his team and making others very anxious because they did not have a clear direction, and more importantly no feedback.
If you feel that your staff and others will not be forthcoming consider taking the DISC assessment which explains “how” one behaves. Once you have a better understanding of how you behave and you become more sensitive to how others behave, you will have a more productive and happier relationship. Bad behaviors can be rectified over time but one needs to do the work upfront to identify what needs to change and that starts today.
What are you more aware of about yourself since you read this blog?
Other “A” words to ponder – Approachable, Action, Alertness, Advocate, Attention, Accomplish, Advantage, Achieve, Accept, and Attitude.