The Connection Between Self-Awareness and Great Leadership

In one of my recent blogs I mentioned that one of the most important traits of great leadership is self-awareness. You cannot be a great leader if you aren’t self-aware because you will believe things about yourself that just aren’t true.

Years ago, there was an article that interviewed a number of Fortune 100 CEOs. One of the questions was, “What is your greatest fear?” I will never forget the answer one CEO gave: “Being found out.” I think I literally laughed out loud when I read that!

I loved the fact he was so honest. So self-aware.

He went on to explain how he was often confronted with situations that he felt were far beyond his personal capability to deal with. There were things that no amount of schooling or even experience could prepare him for. Yet here he was, one of the most successful CEOs in America.

I believe one of his greatest strengths as a leader was his self-awareness. He knew he didn’t know it all. He had a firm grasp of his strengths and weaknesses and was comfortable with that. And as a result, he was able to lead his company effectively and not allow his weaknesses to trip him up.

One of the most dangerous things for a leader is the lack self-awareness, because to be self-aware means you know where you are weak and as a result you can address those weaknesses consciously.

To be blind to your weaknesses puts your leadership and your organization at grave risk. While you may not believe it, to have a firm grip on where you are weak and openly admit that is an asset not a liability.

And it shows you are qualified to lead.

I don’t know where you sit on this issue right now, but I challenge you to humble yourself enough to admit where you are weak and put measures in place to either offset those weaknesses and/or to guard against them.

Those you lead will be so grateful because they already know where you’re weak. Trust me, you can only gain greater respect and trust if you will admit and deal with what is so obvious to them.

You’ll also be a more effective leader as you gain the trust of those you lead AND begin to become a more well-rounded leader.

 


Rick is a 36-year veteran in fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit organizations. After serving for eleven years in nonprofit management and fundraising leadership roles, Rick began his consulting career in 1989. In 2002 he founded Dunham+Company, which has become a global leader in providing fully integrated fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations.

Today, D+C serves over 50 organizations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia, providing integrated fundraising and marketing strategies.

Rick holds a BA from Biola University and a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary.

He is an active member of the Direct Marketing Association. Rick also serves on the board of The Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation. In addition, Rick is a member of The Giving Coalition, the national voice for charitable organizations in the U.S.

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