How well do you know yourself? 

Author: Rosette Wamambe. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

‘‘Self-awareness is a leader’s best friend because it introduces us to who we are” 

It is almost unbelievable that we are already halfway this year. As leaders, we know that the halfway mark calls for a mid-term review, to evaluate and record achievements made so far and set the agenda for the last half of the year so that we can be able to achieve our desired results for the year. 

Mid-year, therefore, marks the time for each of us as leaders, to take stock and answer the question, ‘how effective have I been in leading myself and others to ensure that we achieve the results we are working towards?’

Effective leaders know that to get the results they crave, they must operate in their strengths zone. Knowing what your strengths are calls for one being aware of who they are as a person so that they can develop strategies to improve and operate in their strengths zone.

It is safe to conclude that self-awareness is a leader’s best friend because it introduces us to who we are and brings up the areas that we need to work on to become more effective and achieve our set goals. 

Engaging in a self-awareness exercise does not come easy, perhaps that is why founding father of the US Benjamin Franklin observed thus: “There are three things that are extremely hard: steel, diamond, and knowing oneself.” 

Self-awareness calls for us to engage different facets of our life, including our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. In a bid to simplify this self-awareness exercise, I request that you allow us to use an example of a leader who we shall call P, a general manager of a medium enterprise of about 152 employees and reports to the CEO of the company.

According to P, they can summarise themselves as a leader who can be easy to approach and relate with. They also tend to be direct and have high standards of themselves and those they lead. They are very visionary and see what others may not be able to see. P also believes they are a good motivator and can push the team to get the desired results.

P believes that some of the areas they need to work on is the fact that they tend to evaluate others by the results they bring and not necessarily the effort that they put in to get those results. In addition, P sometimes tends to influence others through pushing or being persistent which at times does not come across well with some team members. 

There have been times when P has acted with a sense of urgency, and this tends to come across as acting with impatience for other people on the team. The fact that P is good at making decisions and is willing to change directions sometimes at short notice leaves some team members spinning and wondering what is happening.

Although P’s visionary abilities have benefited the company in the past, they have also had to pay the price of rushed decision making. In that, sometimes P may not be able to appreciate the fact that some risks are not obvious at the inception of a project and, therefore, taking time to evaluate decisions may bring up some things and have the company take a different direction which in the end could avert some losses.

From the above summary, we can see that P has done some self-reflection and is able to identify some patterns or behaviours that need to be worked on. It also appears that P is willing to get feedback from those that they lead so that they can be able to serve them better. 

This is probably because P knows that as a leader, when you are self-aware, this makes you more effective because you are able to bring your strengths to the forefront, identify, recognise and manage your weak areas, and allow those you lead to do the same.

In the weeks that follow, we shall continue to discuss the subject of self-awareness, its benefits and how P can effectively make use of this information they have about themselves and be able to effectively lead their team.

In the meantime, give these two questions some thought as a leader how well do you know yourself? And secondly, in what areas do you excel and where do you believe you need some improvement?

Wamambe is a transformational leadership coach with the Maxwell Certified Leadership Team    [email protected]