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Can self-awareness really make you a better leader?  How does knowing more about yourself translate into working better with others?  Don’t the people you lead just need to listen to you and do what you say? No! There is a better way, and we believe self-awareness is the key to being a better leader.  

The Key to Becoming a Better Leader

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Holly & I start off the podcast sharing a bit about ourselves. I am a pastors wife, mom of one, business owner, lead various ministries and bible studies at our church, and I write over at estherlittlefield.com. Holly is also a wife, mom, formerly co-led women’s ministry, formerly a finance director at a marketing agency and, since moving, she is starting her own business as a bookkeeper. For more info on our leadership journeys check out Episode 1.

Thank you to those who have been listening as well as leaving a rating & review on Apple Podcasts.

In Episode 4 we briefly discussed self-awareness  when we talked about leaders being born or made. Today we are going to dive deeper into the topic of self-awareness.  We really believe it is a key to becoming a better leader.

Self-awareness allows you to understand both your strengths and your weaknesses. It helps you to stay grounded in reality instead of believing that you single-handedly accomplished something.

Holly read the book What Exceptional Leaders Know*.  A couple of our points were inspired from this book, but she adapted them to fit the frame of reference for a Christian woman leader.  

6 Ways to Become More Self-Aware:

1) Have Humility

Humility is having a clear perspective, and therefore and implicit respect for another person’s place. It is really about servant leadership. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 it says, “For we are God’s co-workers.”  We are joining him in his great work.

Whether in the business world or the ministry world, having a position of leadership does not create more “position” or “status”, rather it broadens the circle of people we are serving. It is crucial that our perspective is service rather than to be served by our team. Humility is the strength to put someone else above yourself.

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • Do I care more about my position more than my team members?
  • Am I focused more on achieving my own goals than on the good of the organization or team?
  • How do I make decisions – do I include others or am I focused just on what I want?

2) Ask for Feedback

Opening yourself up to feedback is key activity as a leader. Feedback allows you become aware of blind spots. It allows you to have the opportunity to grow and change. A leader needs to set the environment for being open to feedback. I discuss the book Radical Candor* and how important it is to give clear and honest feedback and being willing to receive it well.   

When receiving feedback, it is best not to be defensive. It’s okay to say, “Thank you, I’m gonna think about that.”  You can also bring the feedback to a mentor or trusted person and get their insight.

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • How do you respond to feedback?
  • Do you provide opportunities for your team to give you feedback?
  • Who is in your life who regularly provides feedback for you?

Get the FREE download of the 6 points plus the 19 self-reflection questions to ask:

3) Don’t become comfortable with the status quo

The business world is changing and how we stay relevant in ministry is changing. Constantly pushing for progress and routinely checking where your target audience is at will create the needed feeling of being “on your toes”.  God may be working in a new place, he may be doing a different thing.

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • Am I open to new ideas?
  • Do I provide opportunities for team members to bring me their ideas and perspectives?
  • Am I seeking to learn about updated methods and approaches to reach our goals?
  • Am I keenly aware of the needs or challenges that my target audience is facing?

4) Learn how God has wired you

Start by reflecting on what you are naturally good at.  What comes easily to you? What did you love doing as a child? Secondly, understand your personality by looking at different kinds of personality tests or frameworks.  

Remember that “All models are wrong, but some are useful”. – George Box.

Personality Frameworks Discussed:

Myers-Briggs or 16 Personalities

  • Measures 4 personality aspects – Mind (Introvert vs. Extrovert), Energy (Observant vs. Intuitive), Nature (Thinking vs. Feeling), Tactics (Judging vs. Prospecting)
  • Results generated in 16 different possible combinations of the letters
  • Holly & I discussed our types: Holly – ENFP; Esther – ISTJ
  • 16 Personalities also adds a 5th aspect which measures your identity and confidence in your decisions (Assertive vs. Turbulent).
  • 16 Personalities has a free test you can take

Strengths Finder

Enneagram

  • We talked about this on Episode 7 with Jill McCormick
  • My favorite tool for leadership development
  • Focused on growth and development and has a spiritual element
  • It is recommended that you read more about the types when trying to figure out which type you are rather than trusting a test alone.  We would recommend The Road Back to You* to help figure out which type you are.
  • Can help you personally, within teams, or with any relationship
  • Holly & I discussed our types: Esther – Type 1: The Reformer; Holly – Type 4: The Individualist
  • Website resources: The Enneagram Institute; The Road Back to You; Your Enneagram Coach

Other helpful tests to be aware of:

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • Do you know what you are naturally good at; what you love doing?
  • Have you spent time learning about your own personality?
  • What are 3-5 core components of your personality, and how can you use this knowledge in your leadership?

5) Develop discernment and vision

Discernment is for the short term and vision is for the long term. Focusing on the day to day discernment of decision making makes for a company or ministry that is really good at marching forward. But if you are going in the wrong direction, all your steps are doing is getting you further from the goal.  

If you focus on just long term, you are essentially sitting at one side of the field dreaming and hoping to get to the other side.  You must be able to do both and be willing to check your pulse on this frequently. If you are the leader and you are in charge of steering your organization, you must model this approach.  

People will join you because of your passion but leave you due to poor management.  Don’t be afraid to bring someone onto your leadership team that has a strength where you are weak.  

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • How am I exercising discernment in my decision making each day?
  • Am I clear on our long-term vision, and am I communicating this with my team?
  • Am I engaging my core leaders in both of these activities?

6) Connect with God daily

Humility and spending time with God should surround everything you are doing to grow self awareness.  Ask God to reveal where you need to change. This helps you to be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Spending time in God’s word will illuminate the areas we need to be working on.  I mention these scriptures: 1 Cor. 3:18-23, James 1:5 and Psalm 139:23-24 which can help us become more self-aware.

Self-reflection questions to ask:

  • Are you spending time with God consistently?
  • Are you asking him to search your heart?
  • Are you responding to the promptings from the Holy Spirit about areas you need to change?

Conclusion:

The capstone of all of this is following God in what he is showing you as the next right step. If you are open and willing to the Lord’s guidance, He will bless your leadership.  

We have given you some wisdom to shape your leadership and self-awareness, but truly our hearts just want you to be moldable to what God is showing you.  We hope these points have been helpful and that you have found some areas to work on in your leadership journey.

We would love for you to share with us which one of these self-awareness steps you are working on.  Share in our private Facebook Group and tell us which one of these topic hit home for you and what you are working on.  

This group is a great place to get encouragement from other leaders, get extra content we don’t always have time to share during the episodes, plus you can connect with Holly & I personally there!

Other Resources Mentioned:

The Happy Hour Podcast 205: Suzanne Stabile 

Get the FREE download of the 6 points plus the 19 self-reflection questions to ask:

*Affiliate links.

Can self-awareness really make you a better leader?  How does knowing more about yourself translate into working better with others?  Find out 6 ways to become more self-aware, plus get 19 self-reflection questions to ask yourself to assess your own self-awareness as a leader. Click through to read or listen to Episode 8 of the Christian Woman Leadership Podcast.