There are many recipes being offered today to advise managers and leaders at all levels on becoming more authentic. The argument being that by being more authentic you are more credible and persuasive as a leader for those who follow and get more done more easily. In our approach we have a straight forward way of helping our customers develop as authentic leaders. We have three simple tenets:
• Be true to yourself
• Be true to your responsibilities
• Be true to others
In this article we will focus on “be true to yourself.” What we mean by this is taking time to reflect on what is important for you. It also means making time to explore your blind spots and your areas of potential that you may not have tapped into yet.
The Johari Window, developed by Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, is a very useful tool for self-reflection and self-exploration. They identified the “blind self”, those things about us that others are aware of and see but we ourselves do not. They also identified the “unknown self”, the potential within us that neither we nor others have seen or are aware of. The best route to getting to explore the blind self is through feedback from others. This is an important argument for the value of feedback and why it is important both to ask for it and to listen with an open mind when it is offered. Through feedback we may get to understand ourselves better. Both the strengths and the weaknesses. This will give us more conscious choice of our behaviour.
Another route we use to help our customers decrease their “blind spot” is by using an appropriate validated psychometric tool. There are now many well researched tools available. The challenge is choosing the right one for the right context. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a very good tool for helping understand that people are different but in structured ways. By understanding this we can adapt our behaviour to communicate in a better way to achieve the outcomes we want to reach. Whereas the Harrison Assessments traits and definitions report gives a very sharp feedback on my trait preferences and is a very good predictor of where I am likely to excel and where I will be challenged in different work and task situations. The use of the tool is to increase self-awareness and conscious choice over own behaviour.
A third route to increased self-awareness is connecting with our values. What are the values that have informed our life’s journey and that cause us to do or not do things. A simple but challenging exercise is to plot our career to date on a sheet of paper with the highs and lows we have experienced along the way. What was it about the high points that made them high points for us? Equally, what was it about the low points that made them a low point for us? What does this tell us about what we value and what needs to be present for us to feel positive and comfortable in our role? Connecting with this is a great source of energy for a leader.
Once we have this richer self-awareness it is of no great value unless we use it positively for our own success. This is when we need to challenge our habits. We behave in particular ways because we have learned to do it that way and it is difficult to change. Charles Duhigg in his book, “The Power of Habit, what we do what we do and how to change”, provides a very powerful recipe for changing habits. Create a new “cue” to trigger the new behaviour and give ourselves a “reward” for doing it. Unless we change the cue we will not change the habit.
Get in touch with Gerry Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore how we can help you.