Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Self-Awareness - Key to Effective Leadership

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Self-Awareness - Key to Effective Leadership

Article excerpt

An impartial and objective attitude toward oneself ... is a primary virtue, basic to the development of all others.

- Allport (1937, p. 422)

Many theories and thinkers have attempted to explore what truly makes a person emerge as a leader. Successful leadership often surfaces when people become aware of critical personal experiences in their life, understand the driving forces, and respond by rethinking about self, redirect their moves and reshape their actions. The book, True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership states that only those who scan their experiences to know who they really are and realize how they should live ultimately emerge as leaders. Stanford rates soft skill like self-awareness as one of the pillars of managerial capabilities that predicts managerial effectiveness and leadership success. It proposes that IQ and technical skills are far less important to leadership success than self-awareness. It exhorts that self-awareness-an exact estimation and evaluation of one's own personality and a lucid understanding of how others perceive one-is an indispensable trait that all good managers strive to develop to be successful leaders. A survey of 75 members of the Business Advisory Council of Stanford Graduate School rates self-awareness as the superior competency that leaders must develop. Harvard Business School enumerates self-awareness among the key attributes that their program seeks to develop in its candidates. Dartmouth, University of Chicago, and other Business Schools are all designing programs that focus on self- awareness as the vital step in leadership development. A survey of business leaders indicates that self-awareness is vital to success in organizational environments, and many business schools are introducing tools and processes to make the students become more self-reflective. In a world of unprecedented business complexities, spiraling competition and economic turbulence, leaders and managers dealing with competent employees and ever demanding customers, need an inner compass of self-awareness to walk the tight rope of leadership. Besides explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge related to self can be the hallmark of managerial success. The paper explores the concept self- awareness and traces the two essential components of self-awareness. Firstly, it dwells on self-ignorance arising out of an individual's inability to exploit two components. It also underlines how self-awareness contributes to self-actualization and managerial effectiveness.

Self-Awareness and Leadership

Knowledge of self has been considered to be at the very heart of human behavior and Management. Self-awareness in general denotes subjective and accurate knowledge of one's inner self, e.g., mental state, emotions, sensations, beliefs, desires and personality. It comprises beliefs, intentions and attitudes about oneself based on experiences in life. Self-awareness at work is the practice of reflecting on experiences and precisely assessing one's own behaviors and skills as they are manifested in the workplace. Individual's reflection of the following can lead to leadership behaviors:

1. Awareness of self, experiences and people that have great impact on self;

2. Understanding of individual's values and beliefs, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations;

3. Self-awareness prompts individuals to take a realistic view of one's own developmental needs; and

4. Determination to shape one's life on the basis of the understanding of above by setting an overarching goal and building a team to accomplish the goal over a period of time.

Those who are tentative or confused about the above seem to drift, remain directionless and become ineffective individuals. Managers thus strive to become aware of who they are, their values, motives, attitudes, skills abilities and personality, as it significantly drives professional achievements which ultimately make one an effective leader.

Many people think about themselves in a number of ways. …

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