Leadership Development Through Self-Awareness

Organizations use (and sometimes misuse) such competency lists and the underlying definitions to test, evaluate and assess leadership at many points, including hiring, readiness for promotion, performance ratings, succession and even overall effectiveness.

When used appropriately, most of the individual skills and competencies are good, but they are no longer enough — they are static. Without a flexible, self-aware operating system, the leader is able to manage only limited complexity, speed and change.

For the few who can go beyond that on their skills alone, either the personal and professional cost can be enormous, or they use tremendous mental resources, and people with that type of pure brain power don’t live on a bell curve.

But there are leaders who love to learn. They are the ones who ask for coaches, who are constantly reading the latest business or leadership book, who are always brushing up their skills and who are able to truly listen to others. At present, such leaders are the exception and not the rule.

Paging Dr. Phil

Self-awareness might sound more like a talk show topic than a leadership development tool. Yet, experts in all areas of coaching, education and leadership development converge on this as the key to many problems leaders face.

Few companies successfully integrate self-awareness into leadership training, said Bob Anderson, founder and developer of the Leadership Circle Profile.

“Frankly, I don’t see anyone doing it well,” he said. “The future is going to require a level of leadership that might be unparalleled in terms of managing complexity and turbulence. We don’t have a clue what’s coming at us and what we’re going to have to do. The kind of consciousness that can grapple with this level of complexity — there’s only about 5 percent of leaders today who test out that way.”

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