Gain Influence with Others by Seeing Yourself
I’m from Maine. My parents are from Maine, and so are my parent’s parents. We refer to ourselves as MAINEiacs and we have a reputation for stoicism. Maybe the cold winters make us that way? My dad is a classic Maineiac – steady and unemotional.
Self-awareness to this MAINEiac seemed like a passing fad – like 8-track stereo tapes. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable looking within?
I’m learning self-aware leaders are better leaders.
Seven reasons self-awareness is important:
- The better you know yourself the more likely you’ll be able to find your performance sweet spot.
- Have you ever been surprised at how others perceive you? The better you know yourself the more you understand the perceptions of others and the better you’ll understand their reactions to you.
- Effective skill-development begins with self-awareness.
- The better you know yourself the better you’ll be able to influence others.
- The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes begins with understanding your own – empathy.
- Connecting with others depends on connecting with ourselves.
- Fewer blind-spots.
I can think of several individuals whose struggle with influence springs from their inability to see themselves. Their inner disconnection creates a disconnection with others. They lose influence with others because they can’t see themselves.
Seven ways to develop self-awareness:
- Create silence. Give yourself time for self-reflection.
- Write an autobiography. Go beyond describing events and turning points to responses and feelings.
- Write a retirement speech.
- Uncover your personal values and rank them in order of importance.
- Write a personal S.W.O.T. analysis.
- Take a self-assessment inventory.
Bonus: Invite feedback. Determine your intentions and then ask people how they perceived your behaviors. Is there alignment?
How are you becoming self-aware?
How does self-awareness help your management/leadership?
I agree that internal disconnection creates disconnections with others. And try to write your feelings and responses. I believe that blind spots blocks our self awareness. They creates rigid boundary of false beliefs. Unless, those boundaries are broken or pierced, it is difficult to create self awareness. It indicates that there exists a gap between blind spots and sweet spots. Less the gap, more the awareness, more the gap, less the awareness .
Self awareness provides broader and holistic view of anythings.Leaders should see the things differently. They should have vision to understand stimuli and responses. At the same time, leaders should also plan for future scenario. It is possible when leaders are future oriented rather than past oriented. Blind spots make leaders past oriented, sweet spots makes leaders future oriented.
My take away from your comment is, the holistic view part. When we see ourselves better we see our world better – holistic view.
Love a well turned expression: “Blind spots make leaders past oriented, sweet spots makes leaders future oriented.” Good one!
Thanks for adding value,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
Your ‘bonus’ point is a major one from my perspective, Dan.
When I first took up coaching many years ago, one of the assignments was to ask 5 people with whom we work and play, how they perceived us…to be absolutely honest about the messages we convey in everything from our demeanor, dress, attitide, speech patterns, charisma, etc. I learned a lot! It was an amazing exercise, which I continue to do to remain self aware.
I also continue to check out the times I don’t feel I am in alignment with who I believe I am and want to be.Through my own coaching, I work on the gaps that arise.
P.S. Another point I would add to your seven ways to develop self-awareness is to write your own eulogy (morbid as it may sound). Include what you would like people to remember about you as a leader (or whatever else you would like to be remembered for) – and consider whether you are living up to the words.
I think it’s a great idea to have people write their own eulogy. You know, people do not usually reference their job on their tombstone, they instead make note of important relationships. To me, this speaks volumes. Writing a eulogy is a great way to remind yourself of what’s really important in your life.
Thanks for the affirmation of the bonus point. It’s one I’m currently using.
I started mulling over my own eulogy. It’s too sobering for a rainy day. I’m waiting till the sun comes out.
Another point I would add to would be to remember this is not a onetime exercise. I did some self-evaluation based on the perception of others years ago and tried to change some behaviors as a result. I have lived with this view of myself for quite awhile and came to see myself in this way. Last week I found out that the behavior changes must have worked because the perception of others had changed. I think I need to do some additional self awareness work to make sure that I am keeping up with the changes that are happening that I don’t recognize.
Great addition – this is not a once and done deal. Nicely said and challenging too.
Great post, Dan. We need to keep in mind that we will never be fully self-aware, just like we will never completely understand another person. That’s why many leaders develop a trusted inner circle of peers and friends who know part of their role is feedback. Uncomfortable, but helpful.
I find self-awareness to an extent through writing. I also have used tools like the Myers-Brigs and some of Patrick Lencione’s team-building exercises. I don’t like that sort of thing — I’d normally call it touchy-feely — but I have to admit I learn a lot.
Thank you Greg,
I appreciate how you consistently add value and interact on LF.
I enjoyed your comment. In particular the “touchy-feely” part. 🙂
It’s great to have some close friends who want us to reach our highest potential.
Greg is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Stay tuned for his bio. I need to create the page.
Good morning Dan,
Oh Ayuh – wicked guhd post today.
Here’s a quote (by the way – I love quotes – they’re bite sized chunks of wisdom)
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”
Great hearing from a fellow MAINEiac! Wicked guhd quote!
Success to you in your Real Estate business down there in Texas.
Completely and utterly spot-on post today! As anyone who has participated in a 360 evaluation will attest, there are a variety of ways in which the people in our personal and professional lives see us, and 360s give them an opportunity to share some of the “flattering” and the “constructive” in a way that will help the recipient see themselves more clearly (even if it hurts a bit to hear the perceived truth!).
I did a personal SWOT analysis for my blog as part of closing out 2010. It was a good exercise: http://waytenmom.blogspot.com/2011/02/objective-great-2011.html
With an effort know oneself comes vulnerability followed by opportunity for growth. Therein lies the catch, given past traumas which humans have, that vulnerability has to be framed in a safe and trusting space.
So can you trust yourself via journal/autobiography/SWOT? Probably to a degree to create a black and white picture. Still as Cinnie noted, tapping 5 trusted individuals with a request of their perceptions fills in the colors better. (sidecar: what an amazing ‘gift’ to request of someone else, creates a moment of deep potential mutuality!) And as Greg noted, if you are serious about this, it is continuous and does not end.
The greater danger is in not knowing…
“He that knows not, and knows not that he knows not is a fool. Shun him
He that knows not, and knows that he knows not is a pupil.
He that knows, and knows not that he knows is asleep.
He that knows, and knows that he knows is a teacher.
Or less poetically…
“We know what we know, we know that there are things we do not know, and we know that there are things we don’t know we don’t know”
Doc, love the proverb. And that’s a favorite Rumsfeld quote too. I’d suggest there’s another category that trips up leaders: Knowing in part and thinking from that that we know the whole.
That might be even more dangerous Greg!
Great stuff Doc!
Thanks for bringing the “trust” term to the discussion. What do we have without trust? Not much.
Today’s conversation is off the charts.
Best to you,
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
Excellent advice Dan. In college we studied a self-written eulogy by a U.S. soldier serving in Viet Nam from the textbook The Rhetoric of Yes. After we were inspired by this 23 year old’s self-perspective, the professor had us each write our own eulogy.
Perhaps this sounds morbid, but through the years it has helped me look at myself and life from an invaluable perspective.
Gary, sometimes a little “morbidity” goes a long way. Thanks for sharing your story. Cheers, Dan
Now wouldn’t this be a great blueprint for management T&D? Imagine the outcome if the CEO went through Dan’s self-awareness insight and process.
Hi John, thank you sir for the encouraging word. Best, Dan
Thanks for another thoughtful post! I read your pieces every day and get a lot of ideas from you that I pick up and pass along
Paul (a fellow MAINEiac)
Great to see another New Englander in the mix. 🙂
thanks for your kind encouragement.
Personal mastery (knowing yourself) is almost a prerequisite for anyone embarking on a leadership improvement effort. Peter Senge talks about personal mastery as the foundation for anyone aspiring to lead a learning organization – basically anyone that wants to lead an organization relying on knowledge workers. (cf. The Fifth Discipline)
That said, it’s important to recognize that you are never “there” with personal mastery – it’s a continual cycle of learning about oneself. You don’t have to have it all together before you try to lead – if leaders waited for that, there’d be no leaders at all!
Thanks for your great blog!
Dan – great post! As a growing leader, I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of knowing how you are perceived by your team, colleagues, and superiors. As old saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
I personally like to survey my team from time to time to get anonymous feedback, as you suggested in your bonus tip. However, if you are going to do this, you have to be prepared for whatever comes back – after all, you asked for the feedback! The game-changer in my opinion is to have the ability and audacity to take the feedback in a constructive way (disregarding any blatant nonsense you may receive) and use it as pointers for areas in which to improve as a leader.
Thanks for the thoughts!