Most women strive to improve their individual performance and their career position. And a question I’m regularly asked by the executives and entrepreneurs I coach is: what is most important for me to do to insure I grow professionally to advance in my career or to help me better lead and grow my business?
Answer: Self-Awareness is core to performance improvement. And that’s not often what business owners and leaders expect to hear—they expect to hear skill building and taking on new responsibilities are core for performance improvement.
Why does self-awareness lead? Three reasons:
1. You need to be aware of your strengths and attributes as other people see them;
2. Equally, you need to be aware of your deficits and areas of challenge (aka: derailment potential). That is – how do you get out of your own way;
3. You need to recognize what is most important to you personally about your career experience. Simply developing new knowledge and skills may not applicable to your best line of growth. And the common default of doing nothing differently will certainly result in more of the same, thereby promoting mediocrity and potentially, entropy.
Self-awareness…yes, it’s a vulnerable position, and that’s why so many struggle with it. It’s pretty easy and fun to identify and recognize your strengths. It is far more challenging to understand and work to manage your deficits – particularly as others see and experience them verses your own definition of what they are. How often do people really delve into self-exploration (and objectively, through evidence-based methods) to identify and learn to balance those potential deficits and unintended self-destructive elements, that as humans, we all have? Less than more. This is all part of self-awareness. And self-awareness is a leadership attribute and a feeder to growth.
So where do you start? With your own reflection and candid assessment (this is where most start and end). Then – with trusted and respected others (mentors, advisors, a coach) and ideally, using an evidence based tool to validate and add insights to your opportunity to improve and grow.
Many say they are self-aware, yet do not align themselves with companies and opportunities that optimize their career motivations and likelihood for success. And others claim self-awareness yet do nothing to balance areas they can improve. Or worse, justify their behavior by saying- “I know, this is just the way I am”. This is hubris, or self delusion and simply a lack of caring about not being their best and the impact they have on others and outcomes. It is true that high power status and money (resources) will sway people’s willingness to look at themselves and willingness to change. And if you are someone like Donald Trump or Bill Gates – then that is your option. However, understand that reputation still follows and most of us aspiring to do even better do not have those levels of power and resources.
So, two questions for you: How truly self-aware are you, and, what are you doing about it?