July 2013

Getting Real with Yourself

The Leading Cause of Death of an Executive Career is a Lack of Self-Awareness

How true!  This headline is my new favorite quote that Executive Coach and Author Whit Mitchell declared as he opened his talk to an eager leadership group in Boise this month.  His presentation focused on the basic, important  leadership characteristics that separate the successful leaders from those who are not.   Self-awareness is a central theme. In his new book, Working in Sync: How Eleven Dartmouth Athletes Propelled Their College Sports Experience into Professional Excellence, he highlights the important leadership learnings that his team discovered and have successfully developed in their lives since their graduation in 1986.   It’s a fascinating book full of inspiring stories and words of wisdom from coach Whit.

As I mark this month of July to celebrate my third year in my business, Whit’s talk reminded me of my own important self-awareness journey to become a better coach to my leader clients.   True self-awareness is the foundational step to real growth—in every way. Period. But there is a cost. It takes time and introspection to fully realize how this discovery can improve your life. But I have yet to see a client who isn’t happier, more successful, or on a better path when they do this work.

In my soon to be published book, Simple Shifts: Effective Leadership Changes Everything, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter and several tools focused on self-awareness.  Here’s one of the simple exercises:

How Am I Doing?

While most of us admit that it’s hard to see all of our impacts on people, we think we have a fair idea of how we’re seen by those we lead.  But that’s where we get into trouble.  Take a few moments and identify whether these statements are true or false about you:

  1. T/F    I am confident that all my behaviors are in complete alignment with my intentions.
  2. T/F    I have a trusted peer or confidant who gives me honest feedback and advice, both solicited and   unsolicited.
  3. T/F   I never step in and make decisions in the areas that are the responsibility of my team.
  4. T/F   I consistently create space that encourages learning and development versus simply creating control and compliance.
  5. T/F   I focus on broad patterns, finding connections to shape a vision that creates engagement and motivation to move my team to achieve.
  6. T/F   I get out of the way when I’m seeing positive results and step in only for guidance as needed.
  7. T/F   I listen and ask good questions that focus on my team’s thinking process, not just about the tasks.
  8. T/F   I clearly see my strengths and my development opportunities and can outline and define them.
  9. T/F   I can readily and easily admit when I’m wrong or have made a mistake.
  10. T/F   Though I might dread confronting problems or issues, I always address the situation or person directly without hesitation. 

For all your “true” statements, go back and identify exactly how you know these statements are true. Create a list of specific examples for each statement. 

If you’re sincerely truthful with yourself, you probably have at least a few “false” answers to those statements. More importantly, did a peer or friend answer differently about you than you did?  That’s an important clue in your self-awareness journey.

It’s easy to become confident and comfortable with the picture we have of ourselves.  And if we don’t periodically test our self-awareness assumptions, we run the risk of overlooking important impacts on others that can undermine results.

“It takes courage...to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”  - Marianne Williamson

 Struggling with leadership effectiveness or business change?
If you’re looking to enhance your leadership effectiveness and would like some help to get the results you’re looking to achieve, you're in the right place. I help leaders to successfully navigate the challenges of making change to achieve positive results. Visit my website www.terrihughes.com for details.

Author of the Forthcoming Book:

Simple Shifts:  Effective Leadership Changes Everything


Simple Shifts - Buy on Amazon

Copyright © 2013 Terri Hughes, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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