[September 2, 2021] 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 leaders must be, by definition, resilient, tough-minded, and inner directed Yet, more than anything else, a leader must have the self-awareness to “see” solutions to the obstacles of life.
“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.” – Billie Jean King, American former World No. 1 professional tennis player
There’s an old story that back in the 1960s, when U.S. President Ronald Reagan spotted a bedraggled hippie protester with a sign saying “Make love, not war.” He quipped that from the looks of them, they weren’t capable of doing much of either. Reagan, like all great leaders, was someone who 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 in 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 important issue is whether we are capable of looking inward into our inner selves and can clearly see our strengths and weaknesses and then promptly make improvements that make us a better leader.
A good leader is one who can do this and doing so is not an easy task, nor is it often pleasant to do. Most of us will shy away from self-awareness because what we see in ourselves is not pretty. Good leadership, however, requires it.
Those of us without some form of self-awareness will create havoc and division, and are likely to view ourselves as morally superior to others. Doing so, we create conditions that are damaging to those around us.
Leaders without self-awareness are, ultimately, destructive and will never be great in our position in life.