If leaders want to succeed they need to be self aware, a topic I covered in the recent blog, “What to Grow as a Leader? Become This.” A study I referenced found that a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.
As Anthony Tjan wrote, “In my experience — and in the research my co-authors and I did for our new book, Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck — there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”
To grow as leaders, we need to know what our strengths and weaknesses are, or as Tjan puts it, your super powers versus your kryptonite. So how do you go about becoming more self-aware?
- Feedback Analysis
In his popular book “Managing Oneself,” management consultant Peter Drucker recommended the process of Feedback Analysis as the only way to identify your strengths. Write down your expected outcomes for key decisions, then compare that with the results 9-12 months later.
This method will show you within a few years where your strengths are, which is the most important thing to discover about yourself. For example, he wrote, “The feedback analysis showed me, for instance—and to my great surprise—that I have an intuitive understanding of technical people, whether they are engineers or accountants or market researchers.”
- Assessment Instruments
Tjan recommends you take personality tests to learn more about yourself. Think about it – many businesses use assessment tools to test potential employees. But what about testing yourself and your senior managers? Here are three he mentions.
- The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment. This simple test is designed to determine your four core behavioral drives: dominance, extraversion, patience and formality. You can then identify patterns of behavior and motivations.
- Myers-Briggs. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator identifies basic preferences in four areas. Are you more introverted or extraverted? (E or I) Do you prefer to look at logic first or interpret facts and add meaning? (S or N). When making decisions, do you look at logic or take into account people and special circumstances? (T or F) And lastly, do you prefer to make decisions or leave your options open? (J or P) Answers to the questions will determine which of 16 personality types you are with a four-letter code, such as INFP, ENTP or ESFJ. (A friend once told me she thought she was an ESPN. I told her to take the test again.)
- Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test (E.A.T.) Tjan developed this test that measures the four key drivers for entrepreneurial success he wrote about in his book: heart, smarts, guts and luck. This brief survey measures your HSGL distribution with a graph showing the percentage of each trait.
- Ask for feedback from co-workers
This method can be a bit trickier than just taking a test or assessing yourself. People, especially those who work for you, can be reluctant to be honest in their feedback.
In the article “How to Get Feedback When You’re the Boss,” James Detert, associate professor at the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management recommends constantly asking for feedback with requests for specific examples. If someone recommends you communicate more with employees, ask them for a suggestion on how to do that.
Or turn to a few trusted co-workers with this question, recommended by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith: “How can I do better?”
And when you get the feedback, listen without interruption. Ask for clarification where needed and thank them for their comments at the end of the discussion. Responding gracefully to their feedback can encourage them to continue to offer it. And putting their suggestions into action when advisable sets a good example to them of a leader working to grow and improve.
You can also enlist professional help in this area, especially as anonymous feedback is generally more honest. Hiring a qualified professional counselor or coach can help you elicit feedback by sending out anonymous evaluations and compiling the answers for you.
With all this information, you can learn which are your super powers and what is your kryptonite.
My book “How Not to Hire a Guy Like Me: Lessons Learned from CEOs’ Mistakes,” is now available as an ebook.