3 Reasons Leaders Must Be Self Aware

I consider myself a recovering self-assessment junkie. I like confirming what I already know about myself, but I also love discovering new things I didn’t know—strengths I haven’t noticed or weaknesses I can focus on developing. I’m not a snob with assessments—StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, DiSC—I take them all. If you’re curious, I’m an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs, though I flip to an INFJ when I’m at home with my family. On the DiSC assessment, my D is almost off the chart.

I’ve been reading Leadership Psychology, by Alan Cutler, and I am finding it fascinating—so much that I have exceeded my library renewals. While reading, I stumbled upon a character strengths assessment. I’m not surprised that my number one character strength is gratitude, followed by honesty and spirituality. These three things are deeply important to me. If you’re interested in checking out my report, you can find it here.

Though these are character strengths, and not professional strengths, I believe they are important in identifying what organizations I serve best with, what teams I can lead the best within, and what type of work makes me jump out of bed on a Monday morning.

As I consider this, and think of some of the best leaders I’ve worked with or read about, here are three reasons why I believe the best leaders are self-aware:

  1. We recruit people who complement us. If we know our weaknesses, then we can recruit people to support us in those areas. The best leaders are resourceful and able to bring skills to the table that they don’t have themselves. Instead of trying to master everything under the sun, strong leaders hone their strengths and bring in people who can fill in the holes. This isn’t to say that good leaders aren’t learners. Sure, they may dabble in developing skills in these areas, but the best leaders are humble enough to admit that they don’t know everything and are willing to bring people to the table who do.
  2. We know what drives us. There’s nothing better than being so excited about something that you lose track of how many hours you’ve spent working on it. It’s like working a 10 hour day but it only feeling like 4. It’s what makes you look forward to Monday mornings, because you recognize the opportunities that lie ahead.
  3. We know our emotional triggers.¬†Emotional intelligence is huge in leadership. Stress and anxiety will come, but how you handle it is absolutely critical. No one wants to work with the leader who leaks stress and anxiety all over the place. The thermostat shouldn’t change because you are in a bad mood. One of my triggers occurs when I don’t have enough time to get a project done. Because I’m aware of this, I am pretty disciplined about building extra margin into my schedule. I manage stress better when I work out regularly, so I also make it a point to get to the gym at least three times a week. This helps me manage myself well so that I can manage others well. What are your emotional triggers and how do you manage them?