Self-awareness for Leaders
We all know self-awareness is essential for the development of a leader. It is actually essential for the development of any individual. This has always been known, from ancient times to modern psychology. To know thyself means to understand your motivations, your strengths your limitations, your emotions. It comes with experience and self-reflection. It is not much different from the self-assessment you perform for a process or activity using the applicable requirements, standards, expectations, good practices against which you want to measure performance, determine gaps and identify opportunities for improvement.
So, if you want to practice self-awareness and develop your leadership competences, you can start by asking yourself questions such as these:
- What is my particular contribution to the good performance of my organization? How exactly does my work contribute to the safe and reliable operation of the nuclear installations?
- What processes or activities have been improved due to my personal initiative and involvement? What problems have I identified and solved to improve the performance of my organization / team?
- What changes to the physical plant, to the organization of work or to the resources have been successfully implemented due to my personal initiative and involvement?
- What failures I experienced in my work and what have I learned from them? What have I learned from external operating experience? Do I learn everyday something new? What have I learned today?
- My decisions are primarily influenced by my understanding of a particular problem and by the desire to resolve it or by external drivers (such as requirements of regulatory organizations, corporate strategies, self-revealing problems / crisis situations, feedback from peer-reviews, economic pressure, public opinion, etc.)? Is my approach mostly proactive or reactive?
- What is my particular role in the professional development of those working for me? How do I get involved, how do I coach them or provide direction? Have I coached somebody today? Have I improved somebody’s knowledge? Have I changed a misconception? Have I challenged an assumption? Do people come to me to ask for professional advice based on my knowledge and experience or due to my position in the hierarchy?
- How do I know what people really think and what motivates them? How can I find out? How much does this matter to me? How much would it matter to them to know I understand them? How do I communicate to workers on a regular basis? How do I let them know what I expect from them – do I do this directly or through other managers and supervisors? How do I acknowledge the workers’ good performance?
- How do I make people trust me and tell me always what I need to know, not what they think I would like to hear? Do I always treat people with respect? Do they respect me?
- What messages (on what matters) I provide directly to the workforce? What are the matters for which I delegate other managers and supervisors to communicate / deliver messages to the workforce?
- What are my main motivations? How do my motivations drive or support the success of my organization? Are my personal objectives aligned with those of my organization?
- What is my leadership style – autocratic/authoritarian, participative/democratic, delegative/laissez-faire? Do I use a combination of leadership styles? How do I adapt my leadership style to circumstances and / or to the level of development of the organization?
- What means to me leadership in crisis situations? What would my role be in an emergency situation and what leadership qualities do I need in such case?
- What preoccupies me the most in relation to my work and the organization or team that I lead and manage?
- What is my vision for my organization / team? What are my objectives and strategies to achieve it? How do I engage the others to embrace and work towards implementing the vision, objectives and strategies?
- What competences do I have that helped me become a leader? What are my strengths as a leader? What are my weaknesses as a leader? How do I know? What are the standards for leadership in my line of work? What is my mental model of a good leader in my area of work? How am I being a role model for the other colleagues and managers in my organization? What can I do better in order to become that model?
Based on what your answers are, you may find some ideas to improve your leadership qualities, step by step, paying attention to details, building trust, becoming the role model your organization or you team needs, transforming the vision into reality and being the change you want to see.
Our behaviors engage us. What we do defines us. Leadership is not theory and speeches, it is practice and hard work.