How well do leaders really know themselves? Many like to think they are excellent communicators or attentive listeners. Yet, the true numbers are usually much lower when leaders are pressed for additional insights and examples. So why the disconnect between those who think they are and those who actually are?
The answer lies in a leader’s ability to be accurately self-aware. Don’t gloss too quickly over the key word from that last sentence; accurately. Oftentimes, leaders mistakenly equate things like success and experience with proficiency in other areas such as listening. However, the people they lead can sometimes tell a much different story.
Successful leaders can struggle to identify with anything that may affect their performance, stifle their confidence, or pose a threat to future accolades. For these reasons, such leaders tend to in-accurately self-identify. Instead of displaying the humility to question their current level of effectiveness or to allow themselves to receive constructive criticism, they go through each day with a misguided air of sureness.
Effective leaders, though, are comfortable being vulnerable. Despite a possible wealth of knowledge and experience, they maintain a desire for continuous improvement. They seek out the opinions and feedback of others. More importantly, they accept that feedback graciously and use it as a foundation for growth and development. Additionally, effective leaders work to create new habits, set goals, and hold themselves accountable.
So, when effective leaders are asked about their ability to communicate well or to listen attentively, they are keenly aware that there is always room for improvement.