Self-awareness is the MOST overlooked leadership quality today. In fact, I’m so convinced of this that one of my signature talks that I share at conferences and in corporate settings is “Self-Awareness: The Overlooked Leadership Quality.” Go figure!
The best thing you can do for yourself and your career is to increase self-awareness. Although obvious, many struggle to honestly gauge where they are and as a result fail to fully exercise their strengths, fail to totally ignore their weaknesses, or fail to use their natural instincts to getting things done.
Let’s focus a moment on these three areas…your instincts, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Instinct – a natural way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is not learned.
Instincts are something I never really was aware of as it related to career success. This is a true sign of an employee rather than a leader. Leaders understand that instincts are a large part of their toolkit to be successful in the business world. You must use them to your advantage.
So, in any given situation, what is your reaction? When the pressure is on, what will you instinctively do next? When you are given a problem to solve, what are the actions you will always take to produce results? When in crisis, do you fight, hide, or run?
When you are aware of how you are wired and keen on your natural abilities and tendencies, you can use this information to create opportunities for yourself and work in job assignments that allow you to easily exploit your instincts.
During a year-long business leadership coaching program, one assessment that helped me understand my instincts and my mode of action in any situation was the Kolbe A Index test found at www.kolbe.com.
My natural instincts are to see solutions (progressive thinking), strategize, and research a topic.
When I go back and look at the assignments I’ve had throughout my career, those jobs where I could freely apply these instincts are the ones I excelled in the most. It’s truly something magically when you take your instincts seriously and stop working against them unknowingly.
- Strength – a strong attribute; an asset allowing you to be effective in a particular area.
Strengths are different from instincts in that they are learned skills. Things that you take time to focus on will naturally grow and become an advantage for you.
What is your specialty? What do you do so well in the workplace that others often come to you for help? Where does your “secret sauce” lie?
Strengths are meant to be exercised. They help to get you noticed and often increase your “likeability factor” in the workplace.
Let me share a secret with you…People who are “liked” on the job tend to go farther.
Often my strengths lie in my ability to connect with people on a deeper level quickly and show empathy. Because of these two strengths alone, I develop teams that are trusting of each other and me as their leader. They are comfortable to share their ideas with me, they are quick to come to my defense when danger is ensuing, and they trust that I will not mis-manage their career success.
- Weakness – a quality or feature regarded as a disadvantage or fault.
Never lead with your weaknesses.
You cannot be good at everything. However, many women leaders have been programmed to develop their weakness only taking energy away from excelling with their strengths.
In corporate, these are known as opportunities. Every year during our performance ranking and development time, I have to summarize my accomplishments and list both my strengths and weaknesses. I never focus solely on opportunities. Typically, I’ll list 4 to 5 strengths and only 2 weaknesses. Yes, I take a training course and work a mini-assignment to help in the area of my weakness, but I do not focus all year trying to make it a strength. My time and energy are too precious.
Your homework today is to visit www.kolbe.com and take the Kolbe A Index assessment online. This will help you clearly identify your instincts and show you where and how to use them in the workplace to your advantage.
Then, post your results in our Facebook community. I would love to highlight your awesome-ness to our community of over 15,000 women!
So, this is it for strategy #6. Time to put your natural abilities to use. I’ll give you a chance to implement and remember to send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stand Out! I’ll talk to you in a couple days with strategy #7.
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