Being a self-aware leader

To help your employees get the most out of every meeting, and give them proper guidance, managers must first understand their own strengths and weaknesses

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on 15Five

Follow the tips below to help increase your self-awareness and overall manager effectiveness.

Determine your strengths 

Before you can inspire others, you must first inspire yourself. How can you help employees to find excitement in their work when you’re less than enthusiastic about your owngoals? 

To self-inspire, create a compelling vision for your career path by understanding your purpose, passions, values and strengths. According to Gallup, ‘To best develop other workers’ strengths, managers first need to understand their own.’

After you’ve determined your top strengths, the next step is to align your work with those strengths. Ask yourself what type of work brings you energy and joy. Fulfilment at work comes from leveraging your strengths and doing work that’s personally meaningful; once you’ve done this, you can guide your employees through the same process. 

Formulate new habits 

Forming new work habits requires a formula that includes motivation, simplicity, reminders and patience – and effective managers do this exceptionally well. Because habit change is hard, only focus on the important behaviours you’d like to improve, and choose new practices that will create significant value and contribute to your wellbeing. 

Behavioural scientist, BJ Fogg, developed the B=MAP formula (‘Behaviour (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment.’) Fogg asks, ‘What are the most important, urgent changes you want to make?’ Consider framing this as what you want to start, not what you want to stop

Fogg advises that you start small. For example, start by asking colleagues, ‘How are you?’ at the beginning of meetings to show that you care, rather than aiming to become the most caring person in your organisation.

You’ll also want to hold yourself accountable by creating reminders that help you break patterns of automatic thinking. Without reminders (some researchers call these triggers) you won’t engage in the desired new behaviour. Old-school reminders, like sticky notes and calendar notifications, are also helpful.

Finally, be patient and forgiving. Habit change can take 50, or even 100 days, not the mythical 21 days we always hear about. Many people make a false-start on new habits, so remember to appreciate the times when you make progress towards your new habit and don’t let mistakes, or missed opportunities, influence the next effort.

Adopt a coaching mindset

For some of us, giving advice feels great, but how we feel in the short-term is not an accurate measurement of effective management. Adopting a coaching mindset is helpful for a variety of reasons, including developing relationships, guiding employee development, and resolving issues before they can grow. 

“When something goes wrong, individuals and teams are rushing into unsustainable and ineffective solutions, rather than staying with problem identification and solving. When we fix the wrong thing for the wrong reason the same problems continue to surface,” warns Brene Brown. Effective managers listen deeply, know when to be silent, and ask the right questions to help the other person arrive at their own conclusion.

It takes a commitment to personal growth, practice, and a shift in mindset, to guide people to success – but when managers can become more self-aware of their own behaviours they become better-equipped to guide others on their own growth trajectories.

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