What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Published October 12, 2015

Have you ever noticed, the more you look for something, the more you find it? Like when you get a new car – the next week, you see dozens of them. That’s what I’m feeling right now about today’s topic. I’ve been shocked by how many leaders I’m encountering who have low self-awareness.

Self-awareness is huge for leaders. You can argue it’s important for everyone, but for leaders, a gap here may be the determining factor in your ability to lead at all.

How self-aware are you?

An exercise I often ask leaders to do is write down three strengths and three weaknesses. I’m amazed how often this activity is futile. If you overstate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, you will end up in trouble as a leader. My best advice on this topic is to be ruthless in your evaluation of yourself… and get help.

We all have blind spots. Regardless of how hard we try, I’ve met very few men and women in my life who have been able to pierce these blind spots on their own. However, if you and I get help and we’re willing to embrace the truth, we can identify the strengths we need to leverage and the gaps we need to mitigate.

Here are a few ideas to help you shed some light on your real strengths and weaknesses.

Conduct a 360 assessment. This can be done in a survey or an interview format. If you do a traditional survey, my recommendation is to get a third party to process the results. This will make those reluctant to participate for fear of retribution a little more likely to tell you the truth. If you don’t have the budget for this, you can do it yourself. If you want deeper insights, hire someone to do face to face interviews on your behalf.

Conduct a Stop – Start – Continue survey. This is another form of a 360 assessment, but much easier. You ask only three questions: What should I STOP doing? What should I START doing? What should I CONTINUE doing? I do this every few years. I’m always amazed at what I learn.

Build a circle of trusted advisors. The leader who doesn’t have truth tellers in their life will always be on the brink of disaster. You can include anyone you like in this group as long as you have them on your team. For me, my wife and my son are the first on my list; my administrative assistant is next; followed by a few of my co-workers and a group of men who I’ve been meeting with for over 15 years. I’m counting on these people to care enough about me to tell me the truth. They help minimize my blind spots.

Truth is a leaders’ best friend. The truth about your leadership is perhaps the most valuable truth of all.

If you’d like some ideas regarding the type of questions you might ask, check out Mark’s book, The Heart of Leadership.

This post originally appeared on Mark’s Great Leaders Serve blog. Click here to access the original article and to see more of his insights.

Categorized: Leadership Insights, Mark Miller, Self-leadership, Self-Awareness

About the Author
Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Vice President of High-Performance Leadership

Chick-fil-A

Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. Since joining the corporate staff in 1978, he has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, Quality and Customer Satisfaction, Training, and Leadership Development. He is a best-selling author with over one million books in print. His most recent book, Win the Heart, was released in March 2019.

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