There’s solid evidence that the best leaders are highly attuned to what’s going on inside of them as they are leading. They’re very self-aware. They’re also quite aware of the impact they’re having on others. In fact, self-awareness may be the most crucial learning skill of all.
Think about it this way. Let’s say you begin to hear an odd sound every time you start your car. You ignore it, and pretty soon you don’t even notice it any more. You just keep on driving. Then one day your car won’t start at all. The mechanic tells you that it would have been a simple, inexpensive problem to fi x if you had paid attention when it first started, but because you ignored it for so long, it’s going to cost a bundle.
The same is true in leading. Self-awareness helps you receive clues about what’s going on inside you and in your environment. Your emotions are messages. They’re trying to teach you something. Don’t be afraid of them, and don’t become self-conscious about them. Just listen and learn. Take time to reflect on your experiences. Keep a journal of some kind, or record your thoughts and feelings on tape. As you go through your developmental experiences, look within yourself and pay attention to how you’re feeling.
Excerpted from the Leadership Practices Inventory Planner, 4th edition, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, © 2013, published by Pfeiffer/An imprint of Wiley. All rights reserved.
Note: These observations combine best learning practices for becoming a better leader that have been researched by the authors as well as those shared by a number of leaders and leadership coaches who are part of The Leadership Challenge Community. Use them as you review your progress and continue your leadership development efforts.