I read an interesting article this week in HBR about self-awareness. Through lots of studies that I won’t trouble you with, they came up with two conclusions worthy of note:
- The more experience you have and the longer you’ve been in your job, the less likely you are to be self-aware
- The more responsible the position you hold, the more likely you are to over-estimate your skills and abilities
Less than 15% of senior leaders (in a study of 3600) met researcher’s criteria for self-awareness.
Are you in a leadership role? Have you been in it for awhile? If so, this is something you need to pay attention to.
Think about it: people are far less likely to give you feedback that hurts; you’re their boss! Why would they risk it? In addition, your willingness to hear criticism tends to shrink. After all, you’re the man now (or woman)! You must be getting more and more amazing; you’ve been there a long time.
Here’s a counter-intuitive leadership truth that I urge you to embrace:
Transparency around your areas of weakness draws people to you. Masks push them away.
Seek out contrarian voices. Ask for input from your team. Listen. Take notes. Thank them for it.
Own your stuff to your team. Tell them that you’re working on getting better, but that you’re far from perfect and that’s ok. And they’re far from perfect too, and that’s also ok. The important thing is that everyone gets honest so the team can start to open up, build trust, and build stronger performance.