What is Strategic Self Awareness?

In our efforts to grow and improve we often overlook the closest journey a person can take without leaving their office or home; the inward journey. Consider for a minute how much you truly know about your own leadership by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. Do you really know what you do best?
  2. Do you know which talents you should amplify to be more effective?
  3. Do you know that your greatest strengths are likely linked to your greatest liabilities and which you exhibit most often when interacting with others?
  4. Do you truly know how others in your current work environment perceive you?

The good news is that all of these questions can be answered definitively with validated research tools and appropriate coaching. Strategic Self-Awareness is the journey to find answers to all of these questions and the effort to create impactful goals that yield the best return on one’s professional development investment.

Over the last decade, I have had the great opportunity to accompany over 100 school leaders on revealing self-discovery journeys that look something like this.

  • Initial Assessment: We begin with a top-quality, well-validated and universally recognized behavioral assessment which results in deep reflection on the leader’s values, motivations and drivers. We explore and discuss the leader’s “onstage personality” that peers interact with on a daily basis. Finally, we explore the liabilities that accompany the leader’s talents and how she/he may or may not be mitigating these in their current role. The truth is, we all have so called “derailers.” Most often the greater the talent, the greater the liability.
  • 360 Feedback: We construct and administer a¬†confidential¬†and customized 360 performance survey, gathering feedback from peers, direct reports, supervisors and appropriate constituents. The leader completes a self-assessment to determine if his/her perceptions align with group input.
  • Performance Vectors: Subsequent discussions engage the leader in the process of exploring their performance vectors. Are there common directions identified in 360 feedback and the behavioral assessment? Are constituents seeing the leader’s strengths every day, their derailers or some combination?
  • Reflection and Clarification: As appropriate, and with proper coaching and preparation, the leader may be encouraged to seek direct clarification with peers, both to honor the feedback provided and to develop a fine-tuned understanding.
  • Strategic Goals: Considering the powerful intersect of the behavioral assessment, 360 feedback and the leader’s own developing self-awareness, he/she creates the most impactful goals possible to enhance their professional practice. Repeat feedback at appropriate intervals confirms success.

If there is one universal truth that runs through most organizational theory it is that nothing is more important to the organization’s success than the quality of its leaders. Leaders create culture, establish vision, motivate and inspire others or they can do the opposite all of these. Before looking outward to fix what may ail you, consider the efficiency and enormous potential impact of looking inside first.