[January 26, 2014] Nearly everyone I know filling any leadership position will say that knowing one’s self is a requirement for a good leader. What they will not say is that many do not believe it.
This may come as a shock to many but the vast majority of leaders do not truly know themselves or are actively seeking it either. Perhaps out of what they will find or out of grand laziness, most fail in this venture. This is a sad commentary of today’s leaders.
They honestly believe that as long as they possess basic leader skills (e.g., ability to build trust and confidence in others) then leadership will follow. Why try to improve if there are no complaints? Of course, nothing is further from the truth.
“When you lead yourself better, you lead others better.” – Rebecca Halstead
They are, expectedly, not the most successful leaders, or well like or respected. Self-discovery can be a difficult, ego-deflating, and humbling experi3ence.
I remember my first 360-degree evaluation. Those leader areas I thought my greatest strength – one was taking care of Soldier education – was identified as one of my weakest traits. This required considerable internal reflection on what I was doing wrong. Turns out that while I provided verbal emphasis on education, I did not “walk the walk” and give either specific educational opportunities or take additional education myself.
Yes, having your bosses (present and past), peers, subordinates, and acquaintances have anonymous input is a great stop in honest feedback. There are other more time-consuming methods like close mentorship and psychological tests with quality analysis of outcomes.
“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” – Sun Tzu
Leadership, good or great, cannot exist without honest, all round feedback on your capabilities and capacity to be a leader. When we are aware, then we can repair “what needs fixin” and improve upon what works.