Hundreds of books and thousands of articles have been written on the topic of, ‘What Makes A Good Leader’. In my years of coaching and consulting I’ve had an opportunity to work with all kinds of leaders, good and bad. A trait of a good leader that seems to top everyone’s list is “Self-Awareness”.
A group of researchers at the Harvard School of Business recently wrote an article stating that “Self-Awareness” was the number one trait all good leaders share. But defining just what “Self-Awareness” really is can be quite difficult.
A common definition of “Self-Awareness” is, “having a rational awareness of ones strengths and weaknesses and knowing how to manage them.” In my experience, this definition is spot on, because I see so many leaders struggle to know why their people have so much trouble understanding what they want.
Performance psychologist Jim Leohr, best selling author of “The Power of Story”, writes that good leaders have the willingness and ability to value feelings and ideas that are contradictory to they’re own, and not choose sides between them. Leaders who lack this ability will say, “that’s the way I am; deal with it.” Good leaders know how to put their personal feelings and prejudices aside and do what’s best for customers, employees and stakeholders (take note of the order of importance!).
I recently spoke at the US Naval Academy annual leadership conference and had the opportunity to ask Jim Donald, the new CEO of Starbucks what he thought the number one trait of a good leader was. Jim told me that good leaders know the difference between being liked and being respected.
Jim asked me to think of a person I worked for in my past that I respected most. That’s easy for me. Marc Brinkmeyer. Jim asked, did you like him, or respect him. I had to admit that I respected him, but we didn’t exactly socialise together. I would say that those 7 years were the years of “growing pains”.
For most people, reaching...