As you ascend the leadership ladder and grow in leadership influence, the tendency is to become less and less self-aware. This tendency doesn’t make you a bad human—it just makes you, well, human. Period.
To be an effective leader—to lead with purpose, direction, and optimism—you have to fight the tendency to devolve in self-awareness.The more visible your leadership, the more people looking to you for guidance, the more your own self-awareness is in jeopardy.
As your leadership influence expands it doesn't have to be a foregone conclusion that you drift off into a land of total oblivion as to how you act and are perceived in time and space. Self-unawareness isn’t the inevitable fate of a leadership role. Our own self-awareness is just something we, as legacy leaders, have to be hyper aware of.
Self-awareness is the commitment to develop the will and the skill to see yourself clearly. Again, the will AND skill.
CEO Disease doesn’t just affect (and infect) CEOs. CEO Disease can affect leaders at all levels.
CEO Disease is an unawareness of how you and your actions are perceived by others around you.
Sometimes you just don’t come across to others the way you think you do.
The more and more unaware you become, the less and less likely people in your life feel comfortable sharing the truth with you. Which creates a negative downward spiral toward CEO Disease.
So it’s up to you as a leader at any level to break this toxic cycle and commit or recommit to develop the will and skill to see yourself clearly.
Here are two ideas to recommit yourself to self-awareness and climb the leadership ladder with humility and effectiveness (and they won’t be easy all the time, so hang in there):
1. Create the space for truth - There are a lot of ways for you as a leader to create the space for truth. One very powerful way to create space for truth is to be vulnerable yourself.
There is a misconception that executives or leaders need to maintain an impervious facade of perfection.
However, think of what you can discover about your company, your teams, and the people you lead if you’re willing to say, “You know what, my idea wasn’t as good as I thought it was.” -or- “I didn’t handle that as well as I wanted to.”
If you’re willing to be honest and open as a leader, you’ll create the space for others to be honest with you. Your vulnerability can earn you trust and respect. And your people will feel comfortable sharing their mistakes with you instead of concealing them from you.
2. Appoint a chief critic - You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with, so you need to have a leadership kitchen cabinet. And to keep yourself truly self-aware, you need to designate one person on your kitchen cabinet as your chief critic.
Your chief critic must be someone who wants you
You shouldn’t ask every person to be a chief critic because it won’t help you to feel like you’re getting beat up by everyone, all the time. But you do need one or two people to be your chief critic; you need these key people to keep you self-aware and to propel you forward as an effective leader.
These two practices will go a long way to keep you self-aware on your leadership journey.
For more ways to stay self-aware on your leadership journey, get a free copy of my leadership ebook, Is CEO Disease Crippling Your Company? How to Diagnose and Treat It Before It's Too Late.
P.S. Don't forget forget to claim your free copy of my leadership ebook. It's my gift to you, to help you grow on your leadership journey.