As a top leader in your company, it’s incredibly important that you know yourself very well – your world views, emotional temperament or EQ, personality traits and intrinsic capabilities. By being very clear about all of these dimensions, you can make conscious choices about when to leverage them and when you need to manage out of your normal reactionary preferences. You can build teams that complement you rather than duplicate you (which is basically a compliment to you!).
Be aware that more important than having a basic understanding of yourself is the ability to understand your impact on others – and that will vary depending on their own backgrounds. Most executives have a pretty good read on who they are but miss how their approaches feel to others. As an example, my directness may seem blunt or even brutal to others, depending on their role and their own makeup.
Authenticity is crucial as a leader so this is not advice to be a chameleon, rather to modulate or accentuate depending on the circumstances. Having more bandwidth within yourself and the ability to stay in choice allows you to lead in a nuanced way.
One executive that I know looks at his calendar every morning and decides ahead of time if there’s a particular way that he wants to enter that situation so that he’s prepared to change approaches if he thinks it will elicit a better result.
So how does one become self-aware? Your best avenue lies in feedback from trusted advisors – a board member observing you in that setting, a built-in look-back session after investor meetings or calls, a loyal (and courageous) direct report and through formal 360 processes. Your spouse usually is spot-on with feedback as well because all of these traits can and will show up with your family. What you learn can keep you from constantly repeating patterns that eventually stunt your effectiveness.