A great manager can make a mediocre job feel meaningful and fulfilling. On the other hand, however, a poor manager can drain the life from even the most exciting job.
What’s the difference? Effective managers have cultivated skills like communication and effective interpersonal skills, and they know how to create a positive and inclusive atmosphere in the workplace. Poor managers create more stress and unnecessary friction.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of leaders who still need some work in this area. According to a recent SHRM survey, half of all team members say their managers need better people management skills.
As a leader, the way you interact with others impacts your team both positively and negatively. Your unique characteristics can help or hurt your team.
So how can you be sure you are leading your team effectively? It starts with self-awareness.
What are the Characteristics of a Self-Aware Leader?
Self-awareness involves cultivating an understanding of your unique personality traits, habits, abilities, and communication practices, and recognizing how these things align with your values to impact the people around you. It also includes considering how external and internal factors impact your thought processes, emotions, and actions.
Self-aware leaders are:
They take time to think about what influences their words, thoughts, and actions, and they consider how their interactions impact others around them.
They take note of what’s going on in their environment and they pick up on social cues. They can see when tension is high in a room and they adjust their behavior accordingly.
They have an accurate understanding of themselves and their value to the team, and they don’t use their position to manipulate others or serve their own interests.
They are willing to listen to constructive feedback from team members and learn from others around them. They understand their own strengths and weaknesses and they surround themselves with people who bring additional value.
They understand that they don’t know everything, and they consistently look for ways to improve.
Self-aware leaders recognize both the internal and external factors that contribute to their responses on any given day. This makes them more empathetic and adaptable as they interact with team members.
Why Is Self-Awareness Important for Successful Leaders?
Self-awareness may not seem all that important when you are trying to meet a deadline in the middle of a busy workday. The truth, however, is that understanding and acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses can greatly impact the success of your team.
Here are four ways self-awareness contributes to more satisfied, productive teams:
Supports Better Decision-Making
Self-aware leaders understand their personal decision-making style and are quick to recognize their own biases. They know what kinds of things influence their decisions and they are able to compensate for any unhelpful tendencies.
Leaders who recognize that they don’t know everything will be more willing to ask for input and feedback from others. This helps teams collaborate more effectively as each person brings their unique strengths to the table.
Fosters Diversity of Perspective
Every person on your team has a unique set of experiences that will influence how they think and how they approach problem-solving. These diverse perspectives can be immeasurably valuable to leaders, since others will often see opportunities and risks that you don’t. Self-aware leaders are quick to foster this diversity and learn from perspectives that differ from their own.
Self-aware leaders consistently look for ways to build relationships, support those around them more effectively, and capitalize on strengths. Those are the essential components for building trust with your team members.
When a leader understands how others perceive them, they can take steps to communicate in positive, constructive ways.
As you build habits of self-awareness into your leadership approach, you’ll see results in the form of better team relationships, more satisfied team members, and greater commitment to helping the organization succeed.
How Can You Build Self-Awareness as a Leader?
Self-awareness isn’t natural for many people. It takes intentional work to actively analyze your words and actions, observe how others respond to you, listen to feedback, and resolve shortcomings. Even after putting in some work in these areas, though, you may still need a little help in developing the skills and habits of self-awareness.
That’s exactly what our Making the Connection Leadership Series is designed to do. We will teach you how to capitalize on your natural leadership abilities, foster emotional intelligence, create trust-based relationships, and build accountability into your daily interactions.
Join us today to learn how you can cultivate self-awareness and become a more effective, empathetic leader!