In my last post, I discussed leaders’ self-awareness. In summary, self-awareness is being conscious of how one’s leadership is perceived and received by others. It is taking time to be aware of how your decisions and communication are received, and to think about how you can make small adjustments to become a more effective leader. Increasing self-awareness is one path to growing your #PersonalLeadership strengths to reach your leadership goals.
A few weeks ago, I observed a leadership team meeting in which a leader shared observations about his own leadership style and how others on his team react to his (strong) leadership style. The conversation exposed the leader’s self-awareness and his planned responses for the benefit of team performance. This leader shared how he manages his strengths to allow others to participate collaboratively, a great example of his self-awareness as a leader.
The leader started out facilitating a discussion of a recent team decision-making process. After each team member had a chance to speak, be heard, and be asked clarifying questions, he shared his experience in the decision-making process. The leader pointed out that two of his strengths are vision and creative problem solving. He is aware that all members of the team deferred to his opinions and preferences, and waited for him to make a decision instead of recommending their own path forward. They like and defer to his solutions, but he wants to move the team to collaborative decision-making. He shared that as his own self-awareness increased regarding how this team functions, he quietly implemented strategies to ensure that other team member voices are heard and that multiple perspectives are considered prior to making a team decision.
Examples of his strategies to gain the input of all team members:
- He does not interrupt a discussion to state his own opinion,
- He contributes only after all other team members have shared their thoughts and recommendations, and
- He asks, “What do you think?” more often than he offers solutions.
While this leader has a clear vision for the work of this leadership team, he is attempting to build the capacity of members of the team to make decisions, while empowering their confidence in their own ability to do so.
I appreciated this short group reflection process, and commended the leader in his vulnerability to share how his self-awareness is leading him to shift how he interacts with the team. His intended result over time is to build a team of leaders, not to stay a team with one leader to whom others default their opinions and decision-making.
This example of self-awareness inspired me to be more transparent as I reflect on my own leadership interactions, to not only reflect on how I am received, but to discuss it with my team and get feedback for my own growth and for the benefit of the team.