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Get to Know Yourself Better to be a Better Leader

August 7, 2015

By: Crystal Spraggins

If you want to be a great leader, one of the most important things you can do to be effective is to know who you are.What are your strengths? Where are your blind spots? What are your hot buttons? What do you have yet to learn?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you manage your emotions and your affect on other people, which are signs of high emotional intelligence and a leader worthy of being followed.

Leadership Presents Challenges

For many, obtaining a management position means you’ve “made it.” And it’s true: being promoted to Manager is an accomplishment to be proud of.

However, it would be a HUGE mistake to think that once you’ve hit this career goal your need for development is over. Oh my, no! The challenges of leadership are many, and the journey is just beginning.

For one, leaders are subject to the peculiar temptations of power, such as falling into the trap of diminishing empathy. What’s more, leaders are responsible for their employees' motivation, and taking that role seriously sometimes means butting heads with other leaders who’ve learned very well how to get what they want.

All of this can be scary and stressful. What’s a forward-thinking leader to do?

You Own Your Career

If you want to become—and remain—equipped for the trials of leadership, you’ll need to be forever acquiring and developing your skills. Learning to manage your emotions (no matter what buttons are being pushed) can be hard, and the necessity of calling on your skills of persuasion and influence in the face of foolish obstinacy (for example) isn’t easy, either.

But easy or not, it’s the job. And staying on top of the job means investing in you. No exceptions.

What’s Your Leadership Style?

How would you describe your leadership style? More to the point, how would your direct reports describe your leadership style?

A leadership assessment, like the one developed by Omnia, will help you find out. A leadership assessment will reveal your strengths and challenges, your personal communication style, your work pace, your level of detail orientation, and what to do as well as what not to do to motivate your staff.

Grow or Stagnate

As a leader, you only have two choices: grow or stagnate. Staying still is really the same as going downhill. It’s the nature of human development and the nature of business.

That’s why a commitment to continuous personal development is absolutely essential to effective leadership.

In "Leaders Are Willing to Get Uncomfortable," Harry Kraemer, a clinical professor of strategy at the Kellogg School of Management, says self-awareness is key to good leadership.

Of course, obtaining true self-awareness isn’t a piece of cake, hence the title of Kraemer’s article. Again, however, it’s necessary.

Your Staff Will Thank You

A leader who doesn’t understand him- or herself is difficult if not impossible to work for, and it only gets worse the more power the leader attains.

On the other hand, a leader with significant self-insight makes work a pleasure. Self-awareness leads to more mindful management, and mindfulness tends to precede clearer communication, better direction, and more respectful interactions.

When leaders first lead themselves, everyone benefits.

Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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