Many leaders operate on the belief they know everything there is to know about their role, company, industry, etc. But in many cases the opposite is true. Whether leaders acknowledge their own weaknesses or not, everyone else sees them. Instead of trying to deny any exist; it is more beneficial for leaders to take responsibility for what they don’t know. In other words, leaders need to become self-aware.
There are many definitions of self-awareness but generally speaking it is how conscious you are of what you excel at, while at the same time acknowledging the fact you still need to grow. In some cases, self-awareness is often incorporated with emotional intelligence, the self-perceived ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
One great way to develop self-awareness is to simply keep a diary. Keep in mind diaries are not just reserved for teenage girls expressing feelings about their latest crushes. Many great leaders and innovative thinkers were avid diary writers such as World War II General George Patton, John Adams, and Andy Warhol.
A diary provides a place for people to vent frustrations, work through emotions, and grants the ability to look into the past and remember certain things that may have been forgotten. Diaries can provide an avenue for one to gain perspective, which makes sense why it could help leaders become self-aware.
I’m not saying that once you start keeping a diary you will automatically become self-aware and gain emotional intelligence, but it can aid your journey.
You can use the work diary to write about specific outcomes, shortcomings, and achievements. It can provide a snapshot of the best and worst moments of the workday, which can also help you plan for the future.
No matter your preference for composing the work diary, either on the computer or with a notebook and pen, make sure you keep it private. Whether you use the diary to reveal frustrations or just to maintain a log of your daily activities and meetings, it shouldn’t be shared with anyone else.
Okay, I do understand as a leader you’re under a lot of pressure and never seem to have enough time. However, maintaining a work diary does not have to be a long, in-depth process – just commit a small amount of time to compose your thoughts. Even 10 minutes a day of reflection can help slow you down and get reconnected.