In 2010 Green Peak Partners and Cornell University identified self-awareness to be the #1 predictor of executive success. The study examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion. The research examined various behavioural constructs.
This one finding stood out – “Leadership searches give short shrift to ‘self-awareness,’ which should actually be a top criterion. Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own.”
A key take away from the study is that “that soft values drive hard results”
For people to develop and improve their emotional intelligence, self-awareness is a first point of order. Its not possible to develop or improve emotional intelligence without self-awareness.
Self-awareness allows for adjusting reponses and decisions with the ability to read the room and team members resulting in more productive and collaborative outcomes.
Commonly associated traits of leadership being forceful, authoratarian and controlling can alienate others and destroy co-creation. If leaders cannot sense they are engaging in such behaviour they cannot be effective.
To develop self-awareness its important to spend time on self-reflection and purposefully aim for objectivity on your own behaviour. Feedback can help in this regard, as long as it is honest and constructive. Many employees will be reluctant to provide the manager of the team honest feedback if they do not feel psychologically safe in the environment. It is therefore important to assess where you as a leader stand in terms of your team, and if you only get good feedback something is clearly wrong.
Can you be that vulnerable and that humble?
That would be a good point of departure for a journey of conscious leadership.