Friday, 21 October 2016

S-A; for some a blessing; for others a curse.

Regular readers will know that I am biased towards character over competence when it comes to essential leadership qualities.   I speak frequently of accountability, integrity and passion as leading traits of those who inspire others to the accomplishment of mutual goals and objectives.

Fundamental to these leadership qualities is an often overlooked and poorly understood art.  And it is something which can be either a blessing or a curse.  I speak of self-awareness.

The best explanation of self-awareness that I could find expressed it this way.
Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self- Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.  

The reason that the best leaders rate highly on this trait is because they are confident enough to go through the self-examination process and admit weaknesses.  They are then willing to work on improving these areas.  As a result, they continue to improve their overall leadership quotient and they enter a phase of continuing improvement.  The more they are willing to change and improve, the better they become.  The better they become, the more confident that they are in looking deeper. Thus they are blessed by their efforts.

Poor leaders go through the process and then deny their weaknesses. These leaders typically respond in one of several ways.

Some simply bully.  Rather than accept a need to change, they forcefully impose themselves on others.  As is true with most bullies, they are masking weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Some will get defensive.  Objective feedback that is critical of the leader provokes an agitated and angry response.  The walls go up rather than down.  It becomes a case of self-preservation at all costs.

Some will become controlling…or more controlling.  By focusing on the details and micro managing, it is easier to ignore the elephant in the room. 

Some become passive-aggressive.  These people abhor confrontation and so they will say or do whatever it takes to side step the issue.  They hope that by offering tacit agreement to an issue that it can be subsequently ignored and forgotten.

Others will become grandiose.  By embellishing the situation they feel that they can overwhelm the character trait(s) that needs attention.  They try to become bigger thus making the issue at hand smaller.  We know this as the ‘emperor’s clothes’ response.

Finally, they deny or make excuses.  By pointing fingers, playing the ‘blame game’ or trying to humiliate others, these people will do whatever they can so as to not face the truth.

Any of these responses demonstrate the curse of self-awareness.  If you are unwilling to address that which requires a remedy, the disease just continues to eat away.  There cannot be a cure until and unless there is treatment of the symptoms.

Do you have the courage to proactively practice and positively respond to the issues that self-awareness will expose? No one knows you better than yourself.  You can be your most accurate critic and your best encourager.  But there are consequences.  

The best leaders welcome the challenge and endorse the process!

A blessing or a curse?  It really just boils down to your response.    

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