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Self-awareness is THE key towards developing leadership potential

self awarenessI came across this quote this morning:

"Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, 
like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming."

—Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, author, and speaker

Personally, I agree with this statement, especially in the context of developing as a leader, but before any of us can begin working on ourselves, we have to gain some self-awareness and do a little self-analysis. The sad truth is that if we delay this process, we may never know how our behavior could be holding us back. Thousands of able, ambitious and even brilliant lawyers have failed to reach their goals simply because of a lack of self-awareness.

I once worked with a hugely gifted colleague, who was widely respected except for one thing: Everything that came out of her mouth contained the subtext: “See how clever I am!” She desperately needed applause and admiration, and if such was not forthcoming she generously took it upon herself to remedy the omission. On every subject she was the self-appointed instant expert, and if a colleague so much as touched on a legal problem, she immediately stuffed her personal solution down his throat. She was (and remains) a remarkable technical lawyer, but she could never grasp the negative impact she had on people—despite being repeatedly warned by her superiors. She has lost promotions and business because she has refused to accept the fact that her attitude is impeding her career.

Deciding not to change is always possible, of course, as long as you’ve stepped back and acknowledged what it might cost you. But if you hope to develop yourself, you need to do self-analysis on a serious basis, making changes when and where appropriate. This is especially true if you have aspirations of leadership because leaders are by nature self-aware.

So, what are they self-aware about?

Personality. Leaders understand their own behavior patterns and personality traits. Without thoroughly understanding yourself, you have very little chance of analyzing and improving your interactions with others.

Emotions. Similarly, leaders make their emotions work for them. As a leader you must maintain control over your feelings and impulses, ensuring that they support, rather than undermine, your objectives.

Strengths and weaknesses. (This one’s obvious!) Leaders use and take advantage of their strengths while working on their weaknesses.

Motivators. Leaders know what really matters to them and use that understanding to drive their behavior. Working in alignment with your inner motivators (your core needs and values) conveys consistency, commitment, and passion, which are key in influencing others toward your vision.

Thinking. Leaders realize that their attitudes can make the difference between success and failure, so they monitor their thoughts and their self-talk to support their goals.

To be a leader you must have sufficient humility to ask yourself on a consistent basis how you are doing. Still better, ask others—your trusted friends, colleagues, and family. Then your task is to use the feedback you receive to identify problems that you need to address and occasions when you may be sending out wrong signals to clients and colleagues. Remember, everyone has blind spots . . . The difference is that leaders discover and address them; never letting their weaknesses impede their progress.

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