Self-awareness is a cornerstone of conscious leadership. If you’re not growing in self-awareness you’re not growing as a leader. There are three things that increase self-awareness: self-reflection, personality instruments and feedback.
Self-reflection comes from cultivating the ability to step outside of yourself and from the place of the observer, to look back at yourself.
Personality instruments like DISC, Myers-Briggs, Strengthsfinder and a host of others can help you see things about yourself that are not obvious even upon self-reflection. At CLG our favorite personality system is the Enneagram. From our perspective it is the CT scan of instruments and compared to it everything else is an X-ray—useful, but not nearly as revealing and descriptive.
We recommend you grow in self-awareness by developing your capacity for self-reflection, and that you use the Enneagram to help you see things about yourself you can not otherwise see. Things like your core motivations, blind spots, communication patterns and listening filters, style of relating to others and your path to maturity.
We also recommend that you create a feedback rich environment. The world is an open system that is constantly giving you feedback. Feedback is not just what you receive at your annual performance review or when a teammate says, “I have some feedback for you. Would you like to hear it?”
You get to define feedback however you want. We define feedback as everything that is happening in your world. Everything. Feedback includes the non-verbal expressions of people around you, losing a client, getting promoted, being late, your body sensations and feeling states. In short, all the results and occurrences of your life are feedback.
If you declare everything as feedback and you choose curiosity (what can I learn from this?) instead of defensiveness, and see feedback as a gift, you’ll grow as a leader and as a person.
One practical tool we offer leaders is the feedback hot seat exercise. We invite leaders to sit on the hot seat and listen as people blurt their completions to the sentence stems below. We tell those giving the feedback that the goal is to give the recipient as much feedback as possible. This goal is very different than the goal of being right about your feedback or giving the best feedback or managing people’s response to your feedback. Just give feedback, and give as much as you can.
Here are the sentence completions.
I have heard you repeatedly complain about __________________________ .
When you do ________________________ , I notice my energy rises.
When you do ________________________ , I notice my energy drops.
Something I would like to see more of from you is ______________________.
I appreciate you for _______________________________ .
You would be more attractive to me if ______________________________ .
I would trust you more if __________________________ .
You would be more successful if __________________________ .
You would be more powerful to me if _________________________ .
An issue I see you unwilling to shift is _______________________________ .
A story I make up about you is ______________________________ .
Two to three minutes of this kind of feedback can be eye opening and life changing. If you don’t want to get the feedback live and in person, then send an email to people whose feedback you value and ask them to complete the sentences and send them back to you.
Once you receive the feedback ask yourself the question, “How is this true about me?” The question is not “Is this true about me?” but rather how is it true? From this place of curiosity and willingness to learn you’ll grow as a conscious leader.