Seven Pathways to Developing Leadership Self-Awareness

By its very nature, the journey of personal and leadership development does not lend itself to be presented through rigid formulas. It is helpful, however, to framework processes in a way that helps with defining prime challenges and possibilities, which is the context of this Fulcrum offering.

1. Learning what it means to be correct.
Before we get to the not so obvious, let’s start with the obvious. In taking on a new job, new project, new task, new career path, new assignment; the first task is to enter a learning process – ranging from the very easy and quick to those that challenge us with steep learning curves – and to discover how it works, how to do it, what works and what will not work and how to be correct in the context of getting the job done in the best way possible.

2. Learning to be correct in practice.
Time moves on – from minutes to days to weeks to months… and you make the necessary quota of mistakes, which is a vital part of learning and development. This step is all about learning how to take responsibility and demonstrating it by way of correct actions, where one does not by-pass what shouldn’t be bypassed; does not overlook what should not be overlooked; does not neglect what should not be neglected; paying attention where attention is called for; not making mistakes where mistakes should not be made.

3. Managing the “I am correct, they are not” pitfall.
At some point comes the stage of “I am correct, they/he/she is not” syndrome. “They” are not listening to you. “He/She” is just not up to it/missing the point/not perceiving your contribution/don’t have a clue/are insensitive… Please feel free to add your version(s). Some people create ghost images of others – or whole non-existing situations – in their own mind and then react back to those images. Everyone does this to some degree – EVERYONE. The question is: How are you handling this human phenomenon that is a product of an aspect of how the brain and mind work. Do you have the developmental technology to deal with it, before you become impossible to deal with..?

4. Learning the profound meaning of “no-one is perfect, including me”.
When understood in its correct context, learning how to live the “I am not – nobody is – perfect” perception is one of the most powerful developmental catalysts in existence. The human is by design not perfect and not meant to be. We are designed to learn, make mistakes, try and try again, develop and evolve. Humans are made to be pioneers of a very special kind; to be permanent occupants of evolution’s leading edge. To be explorers of the great, magnificent unknown of the human possibility. If you happen to be a perfectionist, beware, find the right balance, before your natural desire to deliver excellence becomes your greatest stopper. In the worlds of human development, perfect means arrested.

5. Learning to live the fact of “I am not perfect” by making full use of this phenomenal developmental opportunity.
So yes, thanks God, you and I are not perfect. How refreshing. Now we can be free: To be ourselves, to be whatever we need and want to be. To be on a permanent exploring-discovery mode, living the excitement of a discovery a minute. Okay, let’s tone it down a bit – a discovery every few minutes. Anything new to you is a discovery. 99% of life is made of small efforts, steps, realizations,discoveries… The other 1% is for those big events that may or may not happen. Or, when the 99% of any dynamic in your life suddenly culminates and goes through a quantum leap.The more we live the fact that we are not perfect inside of our everyday lives and actuality, the greater the space for new – whatever new means for us today. New is the elixir of progress.

6. Learning to see yourself as others see you, to great effect.
Being able to see yourself as others see you is quite a development, isn’t it? Can you, do you? This in no way implies that we need to see the whole picture of how we come across, as part of it keeps changing and evolving and anyway being on an endless chase to find out exactly how we live in someone else’s mind tantamounts to a form of chasing ghosts. What it does mean is: Being aware of the nature of impression and impact that you, your behavior, your way makes on others. Is it overall constructive or not as constructive as can be or you’d like it to be? Where are the blind-spots? – everyone has them. And now the big one: How are you with feedback? Do you know how to ask for it, when to ask for it and who to ask for it? Can you do it without feeling the need to explain yourself, defend yourself, give it all back one second after it’s given, react to it, dismiss it straight away, break down in tears, become overly intoxicated..?  Feedback is the catalyst of self-correction and self-correction lives at the heart of what it means to be a human being. Make that one little adjustment of how to ask for and accommodate feedback to make yourself a vastly more effective and more popular person.

7. Learning how to become the need, rather than being in need.
“Let the need lead” is one of leadership’s greatest mottos. Not “I am leading” but “The need is leading”. Are you impersonal enough to be able to let the need reveal itself to you or have you already crowned yourself as the one who already knows? Is your natural human ability to perceive the need masked by your personal need to be in charge, to hold sway, to have the power? Those in need often miss the real needs. Making space for the real needs and finding out how – inter-personal collaboration is the operative word here – points to where true leadership lives today. The times we live in are marked by rapid change – what is needed today may be a light year away from yesterday’s need. And light has this strange property of completely disappearing and suddenly appearing in a blink. In this context, the switch is in your mind…

David Gommé
World Copyright 2012 © David Gommé

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