In my article, “Management vs Leadership and their Critical Value to being A Successful Entrepreneur”, I outlined the management and leadership skills that a successful entrepreneur needs. One of the required leadership skills is self-awareness.
In that article, I defined Self-Awareness as: “a leader must recognize and understand their own moods, emotions, what drives them and the effect on others”. This definition comes from Daniel Goleman’s (1) original five categories of Emotional Intelligence. Since that early work, E.I. as a theory and practice has evolved but Self-Awareness has remained a key factor in Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence Theory of Leadership Success.
In a more recent article, “Self-Awareness: The Foundation of Emotional Intelligence”, Daniel Goleman states; “With Emotional Self-Awareness, you understand your own emotions and their impact on your performance. You know what you are feeling and why—and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do. You sense how others see you and your self-image reflects that larger reality. You have an accurate sense of your strengths and limitations, which gives you a realistic self-confidence. It also gives you clarity on your values and sense of purpose, so you can be more decisive when you set a course of action.” (2)
For Daniel Goleman, Self-Awareness is “The foundation of Emotional Intelligence”. An example that is relevant to many of the roles that we play as entrepreneurs is as follows;
Many of us have worked for a manager who, if you asked them, would say that they had an exacting or aggressive leadership style. They tell employees exactly what to do and when to do it. But how did we react to that style? Many, myself included, remember that manager as a poor manager and leader. We remember him or her as someone who we did what we had to avoid his or her wrath and not someone who we would follow. Rather he or she was someone we wanted to leave behind.
Many may also remember a manager who we would do anything for. A manager who we would follow anywhere.
What was the difference? Although there may have been several factors. Trust was likely one of the key elements in your reaction to both managers. One of the most likely reasons that you trusted the manager for whom you would do anything was that he or she had a high-level of self-awareness.
You may ask why that matters as an entrepreneur? The short answer is that if you want your people to follow you in pursuit of your vision and goals you must be emotionally self-aware. Your people must trust you and you must trust them. Your employees, stakeholders, and customers must trust you if your business is to thrive and grow to its potential
Self-Awareness plays a key role in building and maintaining trust. Why?
We can’t do it all. Trusting key employees with decisions and supporting those decisions allows us to handle other, more pressing business issues. It plays a role in developing those employees into individuals who are capable of taking on more responsibility as our businesses grow.
- Being aware of our weaknesses and acknowledging them and engaging others to fill the gap in our weaknesses with their strengths helps build trust,
- Being aware, sometimes in the moment, of the impact of our words and actions is a key to understanding the impact of what we say and do will help build trust,
- Being aware that you don’t have all the answers and engaging others to help will build trust,
- Asking for feedback and listening to, responding to that feedback will build trust,
- Asking good questions and listening to the answers will build trust,
- Finally, self-awareness prevents emotions from ruling us and that builds trust.
As with many aspects of personality – we may think that we are self-aware. Most of us are not without careful observation of our own behavior and the reactions of others. Here are some steps to try to increase your self-awareness;
- Make a list of your strengths and regularly evaluate them,
- Make a list of your weaknesses and evaluate who can augment you in those areas,
- Examine your values, understand them and go back to them when you have hard decisions to make,
- Ask others for feedback, not once but on a regular basis. Listen to and evaluate that feedback,
- Make a journal of your reaction to different events and the reaction of the people around you,
- Attempt to predict how you will react when you encounter specific situations and/or
Developing Self Awareness is a journey, it might take a lifetime but every step will be worth something in building our businesses. Along the way you will develop trust for key individuals and that trust will serve you well in building your business.
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower