Are you feeling the urge to commit to a New Year’s resolution? Can I invite you, this year, to ignore the call of the action-packed intention? Instead, why not use the quieter January days to focus in on yourself, your values and the leader you want to be from 2020 onwards. I offer my thoughts here to help you get started.
Life-shifting New Year’s resolutions are compelling. We all want to be better, fitter, faster, smarter. And, of course, we also know there’s a good chance we’ll have given up by February if we reach too far. But neither do we want to abandon our positive intentions completely.
Instead, can I invite you to do something different this year? Why not use the gift of the quieter winter days to turn inward? To think about who you are and what you care about in life. To build your self-awareness.
In many models of emotional intelligence, self-awareness is the cornerstone. It helps us to recognise how we feel, what drives us, what we need and what we’re good at. It equips us to understand how our emotions impact our thoughts and actions and, therefore, those of others. It sustains our efforts as we face setbacks.
Know yourself before you lead others
Leadership challenges come at us from all directions. The conflicts between business targets, operational problems, customers’ needs and team members’ issues can pull us off course. It takes a quiet strength to remain clear and consistent – a strength that comes from knowing who you are and what you stand for.
Last year, in an article in the Trusted Coach Directory, I offered six practical steps for expanding your self-awareness by reflecting on your everyday situations and feedback from others. Tuning in to yourself – slowing down and asking yourself a few searching questions – is a great way to complement this approach.
I also shared the work of Dr Tasha Eurich, author of Insight, who positions self-awareness as “the meta-skill of the twenty-first century”. Of the seven key insights emerging from her research, three provide a great starting point for New Year self-reflection.
To deepen your insight into your values, ask yourself:
- What’s important to me? How do I allocate my time and energy as a leader?
- When things are going well, which value do I feel I’m honouring?
- When I’m frustrated or affronted, which value do I feel is being breached?
- What kind of leader am I? What are my strengths? Which do I use most frequently?
To surface your insight into your aspirations, ask yourself:
- Who has brought out the best in me over the years? How did they do it?
- Who have I respected the most? What have I valued in them?
- What kind of leader do I want to be? How close am I? Which of my strengths can help me get there?
To sharpen your insight into your reactions, ask yourself:
- How do I feel when all is well?
- How do I feel when I’m under stress?
- Which emotions get in the way of me becoming the person I want to be?
- What support do I need to become – and remain – the leader I want to be?
Build your leadership from your own cornerstone
As we face the new decade, we’re all expecting more from our leaders. We know that the challenges are as demanding as ever. And we know that the role can be a lonely one, without connection and support. But it’s also a profound privilege. And one that we can hope to fulfil from a foundation of self-awareness.
If you need space and time to deepen your self-awareness, and create an environment for others to do the same, come along to my two-day interactive Time to Think Foundation Programme in Essex on the 27th and 28th January.
If you enjoyed reading this article, I’d love to hear from you. If you think it can help others build their self-awareness, please pass it on. Connect with me on LinkedIn or simply get in touch with me.
Thanks for reading!