Saturday, 25 May, 2024

The Self-Aware Leader: A WIN-WIN-WIN Solution


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Leader, know thyself. It’s good for business.

Are you among the 10-15% of leaders who are self-aware? 

The answer to that question lies in your key performance indicators, employee survey results, and your well-being. If all are trending positively, especially retention and engagement – you’re a self-aware leader and a statistical unicorn.

According to McKinsey’s The State of Organizations 2023 report, one of the ten shifts that are transforming organizations is leaders who are self-aware and inspiring

In conscious leadership, self-awareness refers to a leader’s deep understanding of their thoughts, emotions, values, behaviours, and impact on others and the organization. It involves being present and attuned to one’s inner world and being open to feedback and self-reflection. Self-aware leaders recognize their strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge their biases, and continually seek personal growth. 

Benefits of Self-Awareness in Leadership 

Research and industry insights have long highlighted the transformative power of self-awareness in driving leadership success.

Leading yourself, leading others, and leading at scale are the new watchwords for inspiring leadership1

It’s a win-win-win solution:

  • Self-aware leaders have emotional intelligence, allowing them to regulate their responses and empathize with others.2 Being self-aware can support self-care and well-being practices and mitigate leader burnout. 
  • Self-aware leaders are more likely to inspire trust, foster innovation, and build high-performing teams.3
  • Self-awareness influences the broader organizational culture. Self-aware leaders play a pivotal role in change management efforts by fostering open communication, ensuring employee engagement, and creating a sense of stability during times of transition.4

These are just a few benefits of self-awareness, yet many leaders struggle with its development.  

Barriers 

According to organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, only 10-15% of leaders are self-aware.5 The Hay Group Research found that 19% of female executives exhibited self-awareness compared to 4% of their male counterparts.

The reasons for the deficiency vary from the ego trap (Ou, A. Y et al.) and cognitive biases (Spitzmuller, M. et al.) to feedback scarcity for leaders and the fast-paced nature of leadership. The Great Resignation may have worsened the matter with retention challenges and leader burnout.

Burning Driver for Change

Key insights from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2023 Report, released on June 13, show:

  • 59% of employees are not engaged, 51% are actively seeking a new job, and 44% experience stress.
  • Low engagement costs the global economy US$8.8 trillion and accounts for 9% of global GDP. Leadership and management directly influence workplace engagement.

Best Practices to Develop Self-Awareness

Cultivating self-awareness requires intentional and consistent practice. The lead with L.O.V.E framework is a good start in addition to training.

The most effective approach is for a leader to gain objective feedback through mindset coaching. A skilled coach can ask probing questions and challenge the leader’s assumptions, helping them gain deeper insights into their blind spots, behaviours, beliefs, and impact on others. They can provide tools for the leader to sustain the awareness and continue to refine as part of the leader’s self-journey. 

A Call to Action:

Individual leaders will need the courage and humility to embark on what we call a “leader self-journey.” It starts with leaders building self-awareness of their own strengths and default tendencies, especially under stress, and identifying strategies to manage through their fears and limitations. With this self-awareness, leaders will be better equipped to tap into their passions, renew their energy, and help others achieve their full potential—and that of their organizations.1

 

Naomi N. Ali is the CEO of NNALI Consulting, Conscious Leadership Coach and Consultant, Author, Speaker, and Nationally Syndicated Columnist on The Price of Business Digital Network. NNALI’s mission is to champion conscious leadership where mindset and well-being thrive for the greater good. Visit www.nnali.com  to learn more.

 

References:

  1. Guggenberger, P., Maor, D., Park, M., & Simon, P. (2023) The State of Organizations 2023: Ten shifts transforming organizations. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/people%20and%20organizational%20performance/our%20insights/the%20state%20of%20organizations%202023/the-state-of-organizations-2023.pdf (p.39)

2. Goleman, D. (2001). Emotional intelligence: Issues in paradigm building. In C. Cherniss & D. Goleman (Eds.) The emotionally intelligent workplace. Jossey-Bass.

3. Korn Ferry Institute. (2018). Self-Awareness: The Secret Weapon for Effective Leadership.

 4. Hay Group. (2016). Leadership 2030: The Six Megatrends You Need to Understand to Lead Your Company into the Future.

5. Eurich, T. (2018, January 4). What self-awareness really is (and how to cultivate it). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it

 

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