𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗖𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝘁𝗼 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗱
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Self-awareness has been demonstrated to lead effectively.* While powerful leadership is often defined in visible terms – charismatic, determined, energetic – the internal nature of self-awareness can truly determine the path to success.
As a founder, you will face a variety of challenges where self-awareness helps:
Dealing with Pressure - As pressures build (both with success and failure), awareness helps focus our mind and our behaviors. Understanding our emotions allows us to respond on our terms and timeline.
Working Relationships - Building a business requires meaningful, long-term relationships often more engaging than our personal ones. Self-awareness helps us relate productively with others by knowing what we bring to the interaction.
Better Decisions – Facing countless choices daily, knowing your approach to solutions yields them faster. I’ve worked with enough founders to know that we often get in our own way. Awareness can eliminate hidden obstacles.
Uncertainty - Dealing with life and business flowing constantly, self-awareness creates an anchor when needed. Knowing yourself allows you to build on your strengths and to augment your weaknesses. For instance, a logical founder may partner with a charismatic manager. A visionary leader may want an operationally-minded counterpart.
“𝙄𝙛 𝙬𝙚 𝙙𝙤 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙙𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙤𝙥 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙛-𝙖𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨, 𝙬𝙚 𝙚𝙢𝙥𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙘𝙞𝙧𝙘𝙪𝙢𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙨 𝙗𝙮 𝙙𝙚𝙛𝙖𝙪𝙡𝙩.” – 𝙎𝙩𝙚𝙥𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝘾𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙮
Being self-aware allows us to perform better. Here are some ways to achieve it: Writing – Identify what drives your behaviors, their result, and how they impacted others. Some people swear by recording their thoughts every day. Journaling daily can be tough, so another approach is to note challenges as they arise and then review solutions you tried. Accountability – List your key plans and track your progress. In addition to the results, make connections between your behaviors and the subsequent outcomes. Also note which experiences make you proud. Focus on learning from mistakes, not suffering them.
Feedback – Solicit 3-5 supportive yet critical people in your life. Also, consider anonymous reviews (scary but rewarding). Ask mostly open-ended questions (e.g. “What’s one way I could improve on that project?”) and push for a response.
Counter-arguments – Embrace how others handle their lives Understand why they make different decisions and what outcomes occur. Another way to gain perspective is visiting new places and observing how they operate and evaluate success.
Mindfulness – Try meditation or rely on mundane tasks (e.g. laundry) to clear your mind and think through issues. Another approach is to compare your problems now to similar past experiences and notice how you persevered and learned then.
Mentor yourself - While working with advisors is meaningful, you can also make progress posing tough questions to yourself, both during tough times and successful periods:
How are my core values being challenged?
What am I doing that is working and what actions hinder my success?
When others annoy me, could this reflect something in me I dislike?
What is my proudest accomplishment this year and why?
Growth requires change which requires knowledge. Hopefully, self-awareness improves your leadership and even deepens resilience as you know all challenges will pass.
* A study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations found self-awareness to be the strongest predictor of overall success and an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review “How To Become a Better Leader” cited self-awareness as the most important capability for leaders to develop.
Photograph by Dodji Djibom who can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/dodji-djibom