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Take Off Those Blinders!

woman using hands as blinders
By Terri Hughes

2 minutes

The best leaders use self-awareness to make simple shifts that drive success.

It’s not easy to face facts that, as leaders, we frequently get in our own way. How often do you do or say things that create results just opposite of what you are trying to achieve? 

It’s not enough to have good intentions if we’re not clear about how we’re being perceived. Perhaps surprisingly, most of us are quite unaware of our impacts and continue blindly along our way.

Start Here

It helps to first get clear on what you want to accomplish, and then determine if it’s you who’s getting in the way of your desired results.

Start by addressing these initial questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish for myself and the people around me in the next six months? And what difference would it make if I am successful?
  • If I were incredibly successful, what would things look like?
  • If I accomplished my goal, what would people know, think, feel, do and believe that they don’t today?  
  • What is challenging me, standing in my way or slowing me down? What’s missing?

Once you are clear with the vision you want to achieve, engage a trusted colleague or coach to help you answer the following questions to become self-aware in your leadership approach. Ask yourself:

  • Do I know my strengths and areas of opportunity? Would others who work with and around me agree with my assessment?
  • Am I clear about my thinking patterns and how I use them in specific situations (like when I’m under pressured or being criticized)? Also, how do my thinking patterns impact others?
  • How do my leadership behaviors add to or undermine the results I am trying to achieve?
  • Are my actions and words in sync with my intentions? Or am I confusing others because they aren’t?
  • How would my listening behaviors be described by others?

It’s easy to become confident and comfortable with the picture we have of ourselves. It’s not easy to put the mirror up and face facts that as leaders, we frequently get in our own way. And if we don’t periodically test our self-awareness assumptions, we run the risk of overlooking important impacts on others that can undermine results. 

Our success is not created by how smart or experienced we are as leaders. Rather, it’s created by how self-aware we are and how well we observe ourselves in action that allows us to shift seamlessly along the way. 

Good news: Becoming self-aware doesn’t have to painful and hard. But it does take introspection and being open to feedback from others. Increasing self-awareness can help you create a whole picture of yourself to recognize your most important simple shifts toward greater leadership effectiveness! The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.

Terri Hughes is a results-driven leadership coach and the author of Simple Shifts: Effective Leadership Changes Everything.

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