What Kind of Leader Do You Think You Are?

May 15, 2024
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Cultivating self-awareness through assessment

In the world of leadership development, there is a foundational cornerstone that often gets overshadowed by discussions of strategy, charisma, and tactical prowess: self-awareness. It is the bedrock on which effective leadership is built and serves as the compass guiding leaders through the complexities of human interaction, organizational dynamics, and personal growth. Without self-awareness, leaders risk becoming stagnant, disconnected, or even detrimental to the very teams they aim to inspire.

Understand the value of self-awareness—and how to develop it

So, what exactly is self-awareness in the context of leadership? At its core, self-awareness is the ability for someone to understand themself—knowing their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, values, and impact on others. It involves the willingness to engage in introspection, to confront uncomfortable truths, and to continuously strive for personal growth. In essence, self-aware leaders possess a deep understanding of who they are, how they operate, and how they can leverage their attributes to effectively lead others.

In fact, growth and development as a leader can only happen when leaders have a clear understanding of who they want to be and what they want to achieve, as well as who they are today and how they are currently behaving and functioning. Self-awareness of both the desired state and the current state is critical to plotting a leader’s development path.

“Assessments provide valuable insights into personality, preferences, cognitive processes, and behavioral tendencies and offer a roadmap for self-discovery.”

But self-awareness doesn’t come easily to all leaders. It can be cultivated over time through deliberate effort and reflection; however, feedback is a necessary first step. We frequently help leaders better understand themselves as a leader by conducting an in-depth assessment. These assessments provide valuable insights into their personality, preferences, thinking style, and impact on others and offer a roadmap for self-discovery and development. By leveraging the data gleaned from these inputs, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of themselves, thereby enhancing their self-awareness and, in turn, their leadership capabilities.

Holistic assessment builds true self-awareness

Holistic assessment allows the leader to understand their leadership deeply and provides a solid foundation to begin their leadership-development journey. Truly holistic assessments will include views into:

  • How the person is perceived, usually by collecting 360 feedback from key stakeholders.
  • How they make decisions and solve problems through a problem-solving test or case study simulation.
  • How key experiences have made the leader who they are via a detailed review of career history.
  • How the leader understands and makes sense of their leadership journey so far and to what they aspire based on an in-depth discussion.

Although information from each of these sources is valuable on its own, integrating the data to build a holistic picture provides exponentially more value. Building an understanding of how the data interacts will help the leader appreciate how they are showing up with key stakeholders as well as the why of their personality and the motivation behind their behavior. This integrated view provides a firmer point from which to begin the leadership-development journey.

Of course, a holistic assessment is just the beginning of the self-awareness puzzle. True self-awareness requires ongoing reflection, feedback, and introspection. Leaders must be willing to confront their gaps, challenge their assumptions, and seek out opportunities for growth. This may involve engaging in practices such as journaling, meditating, or coaching, all of which can facilitate deeper self-understanding and personal development.

As Socrates suggested

Self-awareness isn’t a one-time achievement; it’s a lifelong journey that requires dedication, introspection, and a commitment to personal growth. By embracing self-awareness as the first step in a leadership journey, individuals can unlock their full potential and inspire positive change in themselves and those around them. And they can begin to truly know themselves.

–Dan Russell

Help your leaders become more self-aware of their leadership style and impact. Reach out to Dan Russell or Robert Abramo today.

Dan Russell has more than 20 years of hands-on experience as a business consultant. He is exceptionally adept at identifying clients’ most pressing needs and creating value-enhancing, data-backed programs to help solve them.