What Do Successful Leaders Have in Common?
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I know myself pretty well”? Most of us have. Especially those of us in leadership roles. After all, isn’t a good dose of self-awareness part of what got us to where we are today? The surprising truth, however, might give many of us a moment’s pause. Groundbreaking research by Tasha Eurich reveals a startling insight: whilst a vast majority of leaders believe they’re self-aware, only a mere 10%–15% genuinely possess this invaluable trait.
Why does this matter?
Self-awareness isn’t just about navel-gazing or those occasional reflective moments. It’s the compass that guides leaders towards making informed decisions, building resilient teams, and charting unexplored territories in the corporate realm. Whether you’re spearheading a new project or driving a high-performing team, understanding the nuances of self-awareness can be the key to unlocking unprecedented professional growth.
It’s what makes good leaders great!
Let’s delve deeper and uncover what sets apart the truly self-aware leaders from the rest.
Understanding the Basics of Self-awareness
At its core, self-awareness is like the mirror we glance into every morning. It reflects back our strengths, our quirks, and those areas that need a bit more polish. But as leaders, it’s not just about how we see ourselves; it’s also about how the world perceives us. And striking a balance between these two views can be the linchpin of effective leadership.
There are two fundamental dimensions to this:
Internal Self-awareness: This is all about the introspective journey. It’s recognising our values, understanding our passions, and being aware of our aspirations. Are our reactions in line with our core beliefs? Do our strengths effectively counterbalance our weaknesses? Leaders high in internal self-awareness tend to make choices that align with their personal values. They know what they stand for, and this often radiates as genuine authenticity to those around them.
External Self-awareness: If internal self-awareness is the inward journey, external self-awareness is the outward exploration. It’s deciphering how the world, especially our peers, teams, and stakeholders, perceive us. Leaders with high external self-awareness can adeptly read a room, gather feedback and adjust their approach to maximise the positive impact on their audience.
Now, you might wonder: “Surely all good leaders possess both these traits?” The reality is more nuanced. Tasha Eurich’s research categorises leaders into four intriguing self-awareness archetypes, each with its unique blend of these two dimensions.
Let’s dive into them.
The Four Self-awareness Archetypes
Navigating the complex waters of leadership requires a diverse toolkit. And while self-awareness is undoubtedly a powerful tool in that kit, its manifestations vary widely. Tasha Eurich identifies four distinct self-awareness archetypes that give us a fascinating insight into how different leaders perceive themselves and are perceived by others.
- Characteristics: These leaders have a keen sense of their own feelings, values, and ambitions. They’re in tune with their internal world and often reflect on their decisions and actions.
- Business Context: Picture a biotech leader who always ensures company values align with personal ones and who bases decisions on long-held industry beliefs. However, they might sometimes miss how their decisions are perceived externally.
- Characteristics: These leaders are acutely aware of how others see them. They strive to keep their teams happy and are often willing to adapt to meet external expectations.
- Business Context: In the pharmaceutical realm, think of a leader who actively seeks team feedback when launching a new product but may sometimes lose sight of their own beliefs in the process.
- Characteristics: The gold standard. Leaders who are ‘Aware’ have both high internal and external self-awareness. They’re a harmonious blend of introspection and perceptiveness, making decisions that align with their values while taking into account the feelings and perspectives of others.
- Business Context: A medical technology executive who not only champions innovation driven by personal passion but also continually adjusts strategies based on team feedback and market reception.
- Characteristics: These are the curious souls. They might currently lack both internal and external self-awareness, but they’re on a quest to find it. They’re open to feedback, eager to learn, and often embark on self-discovery journeys.
- Business Context: A budding leader in biotech, always attending workshops, seeking mentorship, and asking for feedback to align their leadership style with both personal and industry needs.
Recognising where you fit among these archetypes isn’t about pigeonholing yourself. It’s about understanding your current vantage point so you can leverage your strengths and address areas of growth. Recognising and harnessing your self-awareness style can propel you to leadership excellence.
Translating Self-awareness to the Business World
The biotech realm isn’t just about groundbreaking discoveries or next-gen technologies. At its heart, it’s a human endeavour. Deciphering the genome, pioneering drug therapies, or innovating medical equipment – it all culminates in impacting human lives. And who’s at the helm of these ventures? Leaders. Leaders are tasked with making decisions that influence not just the trajectory of your company, but potentially the future of medicine and healthcare.
The Challenge of Choices: Every day, a biotech executive faces a deluge of decisions. Which project to greenlight? Which partnership to pursue? Where to allocate resources? Leaders with high internal self-awareness have a moral and ethical compass to guide them. Their choices stem from a deep-rooted understanding of what they, and by extension, their company, stand for.
Team Dynamics and Innovation: The lifeblood of biotech is innovation, often birthed in collaborative environments. Leaders with strong external self-awareness can intuitively sense team dynamics, facilitating environments where groundbreaking ideas thrive. They can gauge the unspoken undercurrents, address concerns, and celebrate successes in ways that resonate.
Navigating the Market Maze: The biotech market is as rewarding as it is volatile. A leader’s external self-awareness plays a pivotal role here. Understanding stakeholders’ perceptions, predicting market reactions, or even handling a PR crisis becomes significantly more intuitive.
In an industry that’s perpetually on the cusp of the future, understanding oneself might seem like a step back. But as many biotech leaders discover, it’s often the leap forward they’ve been missing.
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Cultivating Self-awareness: Practical Steps for the Ambitious Leader
You’ve recognised the value of self-awareness, seen its influence in the biotech arena, and perhaps even identified with one of the archetypes. So, what next? How do you nurture this trait to bolster your leadership journey? Tasha Eurich’s “Insight” offers tangible, actionable steps to deepen your understanding of yourself and how the world perceives you.
The Power of Feedback:
- What to Do: Actively seek out feedback from a diverse set of individuals. It could be peers, subordinates, mentors, or even friends outside the industry.
- Why it Works: The beauty of feedback lies in its multifaceted nature. It offers a window into how others perceive you, highlighting blind spots and affirming strengths.
Journaling with Intent:
- What to Do: Dedicate a few minutes daily or weekly to reflect on significant events, decisions made, and their outcomes. However, move beyond mere recounting. Question your motivations, celebrate your successes, and ponder over lessons learnt.
- Why it Works: Eurich emphasises the transformative power of intentional reflection. By probing deeper into our actions and decisions, we uncover patterns, preferences, and areas of growth.
- What to Do: Incorporate practices like meditation, deep breathing, or even simple mindfulness exercises into your routine.
- Why it Works: These practices anchor us to the present, fostering an environment where we become more attuned to our emotions, reactions, and the vibes of those around us.
Embrace the Uncomfortable:
- What to Do: Challenge yourself by stepping outside your comfort zone. Take on a project that scares you, speak at an event, or even try a new hobby.
- Why it Works: As Eurich points out, growth often resides in discomfort. By pushing boundaries, we discover facets of ourselves previously uncharted.
Engage with a Coach or Mentor:
- What to Do: Collaborate with an executive coach or find a mentor within the industry. They can provide objective insights, actionable feedback, and strategies tailored to your unique leadership style.
- Why it Works: Sometimes, an external perspective can shine a light on aspects we’re too close to see. They challenge us, support us, and steer us towards a path of introspection and growth.
- Take a Work-Related Psychometric Assessment:
- What to do: Take a work-related behavioural assessment to help you to become more self-aware of how you see yourself and how others see you. I highly recommend The Behavioral Assessment by Predictive Index.
- Why it works: The Behavioral Assessment by Predictive Index measures internal drives ands needs, which provides insights into someone’s internal strengths and weaknesses (internal self-awareness). The assessment also helps leaders to understand how they need to adapt to their work environment (external self-awareness).
Taking the Helm of Your Leadership Journey
You’re already a front-runner in your field, but imagine the amplified impact when your actions are guided by profound self-awareness. The ability to lead with clarity, inspire with authenticity, and decide with conviction is right at your fingertips. To truly reap the rewards of self-awareness, it’s essential to approach it as a continuous journey rather than a destination.
And the most thrilling part? This journey of introspection and growth is uniquely yours. While Tasha Eurich’s “Insight” offers a roadmap, your experiences, challenges, and triumphs will illuminate your path.
Perhaps you’re an ‘Introspector’, deeply in tune with your inner world, or maybe you’re a ‘Seeker’, eager and open to discovering the uncharted terrains of self-awareness. Whichever archetype you resonate with, know this: every step towards understanding yourself a little better is a stride towards more impactful leadership.
And if you ever feel the need for guidance, whether it’s refining your CV to reflect your evolved leadership style or seeking expert advice on career progression, remember that tailored, specialised support is available. Because just as you’re committed to pioneering in the corporate world, there are those dedicated to championing your professional journey.
Leadership, at its core, is a journey of continuous growth and evolution. And in an industry as dynamic as biotech, the quest for self-awareness becomes both a compass and a catalyst. As you ascend the ladder of professional success, ensuring that every step is rooted in insight, clarity, and purpose can make all the difference.
Elevate Your Executive Branding
If articulating your leadership journey, achievements, or future ambitions feels challenging, or if you’re looking to make your CV resonate more powerfully with your evolving self-awareness, consider seeking specialised assistance. Crafting a CV that mirrors your professional growth, aspirations, and unique value proposition can amplify your impact in the biotech industry.
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Certified Leadership and Management Consultant | Certified CV Writer