I find that my main role in coaching clients is helping them develop self-awareness. Typically creating self-awareness is a process facilitated by dialogue and 360 degree feedback combined with questions that help individuals realize and refine their own mechanisms for being self-aware. Once self-awareness is established, it is much easier to facilitate a productive coaching process.
Some of the best leaders are those that are self-aware. They are better able to play to their strengths and minimize their flaws. They also have the ability to discern how to behave in certain situations or around certain people.
One exercise I conduct with leaders stems from the list of 20 flaws developed by Marshall Goldsmith and found in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. The 20 flaws are:
1. Winning too much
2. Adding too much value
3. Passing judgment
4. Making destructive comments
5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However”
6. Telling the world how smart we are
7. Speaking when angry
8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”
9. Withholding information
10. Failing to give proper recognition
11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve
12. Making excuses
13. Clinging to the past
14. Playing favorites
15. Refusing to express regret
16. Not Listening
17. Failing to express gratitude
18. Punishing the messenger
19. Passing the buck
20. An excessive need to be “me”
I give a list based off this list as well as a list of strengths to the coaching client and to the people that surround them (subordinates, peers, managers, even family). I ask the client to pick their two biggest flaws and strengths, and I ask the others to pick the two biggest strengths and flaws they see in the client.
Those that are self-aware have matching answers with the people asked to select their strengths and weaknesses. It is much easier to facilitate the coaching process if people agree to what their strengths and weaknesses are. It is much harder when they resist the feedback they get from others.
In reality, our leadership is only as strong as how others perceive us. They are the mirrors we need. The closer we can get to aligning our own self reflection with what the world sees, the sooner we can maximize our strengths and avoid our weaknesses.
So in the spirit of self-awareness and for next month’s Leadership Carnival with the charge to “Get personal!” about a best and/or worst leadership moment, I will be discussing my step in front of the mirror with this list. After all, one of the best leadership moments you can have is when you take an honest look in the mirror.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear responses from you about any self-awareness revelations you have had.