by Jenni Catron
Most of us have difficulty seeing ourselves as others see us. We can as easily be over impressed with ourselves as under impressed. Some of us have overinflated egos, and others of us are so self-deprecating that we suffer from extremely low self-worth. Both ends of the spectrum are dangerous to our ability to lead well. Self-awareness is being observant enough to know when you’re getting in the way of yourself. Whether you think too highly of yourself or too little, learning to recognize your tendency in either direction will help you lead from a healthier understanding of who you are. Self-awareness is difficult to measure because we are innately wired for self-deception. It’s challenging to admit the areas where we are weak, especially when we know they are areas in which we must grow. To be a self-aware leader, you must do a few things consistently:
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Know your strengths and own them. The world needs them. But equally know and own your weaknesses. There are just some things that you will never be good at. Be okay with that. Don’t try to overcompensate or cover them up. Others see through it. Do attempt to grow, but relieve yourself of the pressure of perfecting the things you are not good at. Kevin Penry, a colleague and remarkable leader, often says, “A sense of inadequacy is the constant companion of self-awareness.”
To be self-aware, we must keep ourselves tuned into our inadequacies. That awareness allows us to keep a grasp on our reality and our need for other people. Identify mentors and continuously seek counsel. You will never outgrow the need for wisdom. From whom do you receive regular feedback? Mentors can come in many shapes and forms. Some mentors in my life are peers who I admire for certain strengths. By getting to know them better, I learn more about how they have developed their strengths. Others are more experienced experts in my field of work. Often, it’s difficult to identify mentors who can commit to ongoing relationships, so I will request a lunch or coffee meeting. In that meeting I seek to glean as much wisdom as I can. If our meeting develops into an ongoing relationship, that’s great, but either way I have learned more than I would have if I had not met with this person at all. Look for voices in your life that provide consistent and honest input. Who speaks to your spiritual growth, your family life, your character, and your performance? Find these voices and seek them out regularly. Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation. Whatever the circumstance that you find yourself in, you played a part in the outcome. What do you need to learn from it? What did you do well? What could you have done better? How did you influence others? Reflecting on key conversations, decisions, actions, and outcomes can provide great clarity about how to navigate future situations.
Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership. Cultivating your character, developing discipline, and seeking greater self-awareness provide the framework for developing the leadership of self.
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership expert committed to helping others lead from their extraordinary best. Jenni’s passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently in the different spheres of influence God has granted them. Additionally, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership. Jenni blogs here and contributes to a number of other online publications as well. Outreach Magazine has recognized Jenni as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership.
Jenni loves a fabulous cup of tea, great books, learning the game of tennis, and hanging out with her husband and their border collie.