[September 9, 2022] Leadership today involves navigating some of the most difficult situations without any signpost markers along the way telling us which way is best. That means a leader must be, by definition, resilient, tough-minded, and inner-directed. However, more than anything else, a leader must be self-aware to “see” solutions to life’s obstacles.
“Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford
There’s an old story from the 1960s when U.S. President Ronald Reagan spotted a bedraggled hippie protester with a sign saying, “Make love, not war.” Reagan said that from the looks of him, the protester wasn’t capable of doing much of either. Reagan, like all great leaders, was fully self-aware.
Self-awareness (not to be confused with consciousness) means that a person has the intellect to recognize, without bias or judgment, that he (or she) evaluates and compares one’s own behavior with societal standards and values. This is why here on theLeaderMaker.com, I write so often about values and its impact on our standards of behavior.
In the study of psychology, self-awareness has been called “arguably the most fundamental issue in psychology.”1 But that is for academicians to worry about. For those of us who study leadership, the critical issue is whether we can honestly look inward into our inner selves, clearly see our strengths and weaknesses, and promptly make improvements that make us better leaders.
A good leader can do precisely that, and doing so is not easy, nor is it often pleasant to do. Most shy away from self-awareness because what they see in themselves is not pretty. Good leadership, however, requires it.
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