I’m getting a head start on readings for classes next week, partly to stay ahead, but also because the articles we read are such nuggets of wisdom that get me excited. Tonight I read “Discovering Your Authentic Leadership” by Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew McLean, and Diana Mayer. It’s a Harvard Business Review article – I love having access to the HBR goldmine of a database. The article goes on for 10 pages but I’ve pulled out some points surrounding self-awareness. Self-awareness / self-reflection is the next best thing to get to know and I’ve been all over it for the last 6 months. Knowing and understanding how and why you behave a certain way enables you to continuously take corrective action. There is really not much sense in paraphrasing what has already been written perfectly, so here are direct quotes:
“When 75 members of Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Advisory Council were asked to recommend the most important capability for leaders to develop, their answer was nearly unanimous: self-awareness.”
“An extremely hard worker, Pottruck could not understand why his new colleagues resented the long hours he put in and his aggressiveness in pushing for results. “I thought my accomplishments would speak for themselves,” he said. “It never occurred to me that my level of energy would intimidate and offend other people, because in my mind I was trying to help the company.” Pottruck was shocked when his boss told him, “Dave, your colleagues do not trust you.” As he recalled, “That feedback was like a dagger to my heart. I was in denial, as I didn’t see myself as others saw me. I became a lightning rod for friction, but I had no idea how self-serving I looked to other people. Still, somewhere in my inner core, the feedback resonated as true.” Pottruck realized that he could not succeed unless he identified and overcame his blind spots. Denial can be the greatest hurdle that leaders face in becoming self-aware. They all have egos that need to be stroked, insecurities that need to be smoothed, fears that need to be allayed. Authentic leaders realize that they have to be willing to listen to feedback – especially the kind they don’t want to hear.”
Guilty of some of these? I know I am. For certain things, I feel comfortable asking for feedback and for others, it’s like pulling teeth. Sometimes, you just don’t want to hear it because it’s uncomfortable to hear it. It’s worth noting though that my blind spots have gotten smaller ever since self-awareness forced its way into my life. And it’s so good.
I’ve also updated my bio page to reflect some of my recent life changes. Happy new year to you and yours! Go out and make things happen. I wish you happiness, health, and success.