In a turbulent world full of geopolitical uncertainty, social unrest and deep polarity, it is critical for all leaders, especially c-suite executives, to have heightened self-awareness, lead with compassion and prioritize the humanity of those in their organizations. As we embark on a new year and decade, we take stock on what to prioritize in our professional and personal lives to be the best leaders and people.
Much has been written on self-awareness, for few concepts influence success in business or life more than the ability to assess and comprehend the emotional condition. A well-developed capacity to self-reflect is the cornerstone to being a capable leader.
Leading with Compassion
Leadership is essential for any c-suiter – resist the temptation to simply manage. Managers control, leaders influence. Leaders need well developed competencies in compassion and empathy.
Leadership is about maximizing human potential, first in one’s self and then in others. The death of effective leadership is control – controlling people is weakness disguised as strength, which is drastically ineffective. Rather, influence an organization’s environment in such a way that every member maximizes their potential in carrying out the mission.
Disastrous results abound when it is assumed others see the world as we do, or worse, demand they adopt our perspectives. Leaders should compassionately solicit input from many, recognizing the best course of action is found in the multitude of counsel. Organizational commitment and engagement are also increased with wider contribution.
The self-actualized leader has a strong grasp on reality, influenced negligibly by flattery or criticism. Comfortable in their own skin, they are not driven by external acknowledgement or acceptance. Less prone to wear social masks and costumes, these leaders are accepting of who they are, and bring unvarnished objectivity to all they do.
A trait of the self-actualized leader is being open to more than one interpretation. These leaders are less interested in proving points or making arguments, and often pause for information and data, challenging their own beliefs. Leaders sit at the head of the table, and facilitate an exchange of ideas to better the organization rather than drive a specific agenda.
When executives are at the pinnacle of their careers and industries, there are few resources they can seek for sound counsel professionally and/or personally. It is challenging to find a ‘safe’ and unbiased sounding board that is objective, confidential, critically analytical and experienced with executive-level decision-making. Seeking counsel from a mentor is helpful, as is hiring an executive advisor. As a confidant and partner, objective counsel can unleash untapped creativity and thought processes, identify potential pitfalls and unintended consequences and can elevate an executive professionally and personally.
That is true self-awareness – recognizing you need support, and being able to ask for it.