Although some leaders might assume that their ascension to a leadership role indicates the company’s valuation of their strengths, they would do well to be ready to identify weaknesses so they can continue to learn and grow moving forward. Certainly, a leader’s strengths are important and a likely base for reasons behind a promoted. However, many times (for example, in sales organizations), what’s required for success in the leadership role is much different from—or even completely opposite of—what their previous role was. To become skilled at the requirements for the new role (and beyond), good leaders need to be adept at self-examination to understand what their weaknesses are and where they need to expand for greater success.
Self-examination and self-awareness can be uncomfortable. It can be tough to acknowledge faults. In fact, it might seem counter-intuitive. After all, confessing weaknesses could seem like putting a nail in a “you’re not good enough” coffin. But in reality, even if you don’t admit to a fault, other people can surely see it. So you might as well give yourself the best opportunity for improving by taking a close look at the areas where you need to become better.
To get there, here are some thought-starters for creating more self-awareness:
Solicit feedback, from supervisors, peers, direct reports, past employees, and even family. And listen to it. Be open to hearing about your weaknesses—try not to be defensive. Accept criticism. Act on it. After several months, check back in to see if the feedback has changed.
Get information from a personality test or an assessment. Your HR department might have a handle on several kinds, from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to 360 Feedback. Once you know a little bit about your own personality and approach, you can see for yourself where you might need to improve.
Spend time in honest reflection. “Honest” is the key word here. If you’re kidding yourself about your motives behind your behaviors, if you’re hiding behind excuses in your own head, if you’re not being true to the steps you need to take to improve, then you’re not being self-aware.
Great leaders are gifted with many talents and skills. Some might even seem to have the ability to lead with little effort. But in reality, great leaders are still human beings and are therefore not infallible. Behind (and in front of) each great leader are many learning moments, and improving self-awareness can help boost leaders to greater success.