I’ve come to believe that people skills, more often than technical skills, determine how successful a leader will be. Granted, he/she has to have good technical skills for the particular job. That’s almost a given. We might say that great technical skills are crucial, but insufficient for success. It takes more.
Strangely enough, good people skills do not start with how you relate to others. Good people skills start with how you relate to yourself. What does it mean to possess good self-awareness? Here are four traits of a person with a strong sense of self-awareness.
- Aware of Emotions—To be a good leader, you need to be aware of what emotions you are feeling and how and why you are reacting to a particular emotion. You can’t just stuff emotions. Those emotions are having an impact on you and on the people around you. If you are not aware of what they are, then it’s much more likely that you are letting them control you, rather than managing them. Emotions are good, not bad, but you need to manage them and that starts with acknowledging them.
- Confident in Strengths—You are a leader because you bring something unique to the table. Your team needs you to be good at what you are good at because they need to be able to abandon themselves to your strength, just as you need to be able to do with them. A leader who is self-aware knows his/her strengths and possesses a humble confidence that gives others security.
- Cognizant of Weaknesses—The only thing worse than a leader who lacks confidence is one who is oblivious to his/her weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. It’s part of being a human being. However, when you acknowledge them to yourself and to others, you minimize their impact because it’s then possible to address them. When you refuse to acknowledge them, you magnify their negative influence. Get honest about weaknesses and you’ll be a much more effective leader.
- Accepts Feedback—Do you bristle when someone gives you feedback? Do you pout? Are you defensive? Do you capitulate and go into a black hole of despair? Do you know how you respond? Do you know that your team knows how you respond? Great leaders accept feedback in a healthy manner which enables those around you to be honest without the fear of retribution. This, in turn, allows you to become an even more effective leader. In contrast to this, if you cannot accept feedback in a healthy way, you will soon stop receiving healthy feedback, and your progress as a leader will grind to a halt.
Cultivate a stronger sense of self-awareness and at least two good things will happen. First, your behavior will become more intentional, and second, you will become more aware of others—which is another trait of great leaders!