My clients want to create outcomes that at first seem impossible. They have an inkling of where they want to go, but they have little idea about how to get there. They want to rise in their careers – perhaps even to C-Suite positions – and wonder what it will take to make that dream a reality. Increasingly, the leadership qualities that companies look for are the ‘softer skills’ of savvy social adeptness. C-Suite leaders must be transformational, not just transactional.
Leadership has been a fascination of mine since I followed the birth of the Camp David Accords in 1978. For me, the personalities in the room were the reason Middle East peace might become a reality. During that tumultuous September, I wondered what it took for each of those leaders to so skillfully navigate the complex array of egos, political tensions and historical pressures.
For my executive clients, the process is much the same. They want to create outcomes that at first seem impossible. They have an inkling of where they want to go, but they have little idea about how to get there. They want to rise in their careers – perhaps even to C-Suite positions – and wonder what it will take to make that dream a reality. Increasingly, the leadership qualities that companies look for are the ‘softer skills’ of savvy social adeptness. C-Suite leaders must be transformational, not just transactional.
Do you want to be a transformational leader?
Transformational leaders create conditions for others to feel motivated, inspired to change, and ready to dive into their own learning confidently. It’s not so much about the outcome than it is about how the team gets there. It’s about people. Teams. Individuals. Human potential. It’s about cultivating a sense of possibility, embracing a growth mindset – and modelling all of this with confidence.
Do you want to cultivate these valuable traits?
Where do you start?
You start with your self-awareness.
Self-awareness refers to how you are in relationship to yourself, to others, and to your environment. Self-aware leaders communicate more clearly, relate more effectively, and manage stressors more easily. With self-awareness, you set the tone for non-judgmental, creative and human-centered learning. You’re aware of when you’re out of integrity with the transformative mindset, and you know how to shift yourself back into a state of possibility.
When it comes down to it, you need self-awareness to take responsibility for how you show up for yourself and others.
How would you rate your self-awareness?
You may think you’re already self-aware, but a recent study cited in Harvard Business Review found that only 10%-15% of people actually fit the criteria.
There are good reasons for this.
We’re only aware of what we already know about ourselves. Or, what we think we know about ourselves. Our awareness of our patterns is hidden (to us) despite our best commitments to be awake to our behavior. When we’re not aware of our patterns, we inadvertently create a negative feedback loop reinforcing a ‘story’ that isn’t accurate. We interpret who we think we are through the lens of an old story that may not be true at all!
Are you ready to rise to a C-Suite position?
Are you ready to become supremely self-aware?
4 Ways to Deepen Your Self-Awareness
1. Get objective feedback – regularly
Be ready to challenge your assumptions about yourself. Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues. Then ask yourself
- What in this new feedback may be accurate?
- What may have been in the way of me seeing it before?
- How does this feedback challenge my current way of viewing myself?
2. Reflect mindfully – but not too much
Reflecting mindfully means to reflect in a way that you gain insight. Ruminating is not mindful! Self-reflection driven by emotion is actually worse for self-awareness. Excessive self-reflection reinforces negative stories: You ask yourself, “Why, Why, Why?” The stories may feel true because they resonate for you emotionally. And then your ego wants you to be ‘right’ — so you buy into the false stories. Instead of asking yourself “why”, ask yourself questions that begin with ‘What’. Expansive questions beginning with ‘what’ open our minds beyond the preconceived ideas we all hold.
- What am I aware of when I have that thought?
- What’s driving the choice I want to make?
- What assumptions may I be holding?
3. Watch for certainty
Certainty is like a box with strong walls. They’re high, too. You can’t see what might be beyond or above the confines of the box. But human beings will always look for certainty. It’s like a divining rod for something essential to our wellbeing. Except that it isn’t. It can close you off from becoming more self-aware. Commit to challenging yourself when you notice you’re searching for certainty.
- What am I believing about this situation?
- How can I know absolutely that it’s true?
- What do I get from believing it anyway?
4. Watch for assumptions
An assumption is an idea that we think, without being aware that we’re thinking it. To become supremely self-aware, we need to question where assumptions may be creating our current results.
- What am I assuming about achievement and my capacity to grow?
- What may I be assuming about emotions and leadership?
- What assumptions may my team be holding?
A C-Suite role is in your future. Supreme self-awareness is within your reach!