for Understanding Others
and the Environment
Insight is the foundation for development. People have to know themselves and understand their environments in order to adapt and learn. Transformational, adaptive, and principled leaders need to understand themselves and those with whom they work. Authoritarian leaders who rule by fiat do not need accurate self or interpersonal insight. Their power resides in force or resource control. They may acquire new skills and knowledge, however they will not fully understand how to apply them in relation to other individuals' abilities and attitudes. In contrast, leaders who recognize that they cannot get anything done without cooperation value insight into their own and others' goals and motives. They may use transactional strategies to set standards and goals that can be understood and valued. In addition, they may use transformational strategies to engage others in the change process. They work with others to establish, refine, and create their vision for the future.
This chapter is about self-insight. Leaders who do not understand themselves are unlikely to have an accurate view of others or be sensitive to others' feelings, needs, and attitudes. Self-insight is the bedrock of meaningful personal growth and development. The chapter begins by examining the meaning of self-insight and its relation to other forms of self-understanding. The way people acquire self-insight and measures of self-insight are presented. Next, the meaning of self-other agreement (and disagreement) is explored as an indicator of self-assessment and self-awareness. Finally, guidelines outlining ways for leaders to enhance their self-insight are included.