Alignment: Adapted from Tjan’s model
Finished reading a piece by Anthony Tjan (@anthonytjan) in Harvard Business Review, 5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware, written in February 2015. He begins the article with the line:
You can’t be a good leader without self-awareness.
While he doesn’t actually reference the work of Richard Boyatzis
, Resonant Leadership
, or the work of Daniel Goldman
on the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership, his five ways of becoming more self-aware align well with these authors’ ideas that effective leadership links directly to one’s emotional and psychological health.
Tjan’s five ways for becoming more self-aware are:
- Write down your plans and priorities
- Take psychometric tests
- Ask trusted friends
- Get regular feedback at work
His explanation for each of the five ways is short, interesting, and compelling. Seems simple enough to design a way to function at work that includes each of Tjan’s suggestions.
I love his four questions that he asks himself when he meditates:
- What am I trying to achieve?
- What am I doing that is working?
- What am I doing that is slowing me down?
- What can I do to change?
Of course, asking the questions is one thing, being honest with myself as I reflect on each question is the hard task, but the important one to get right. The learning or insight comes from being open and honest about each question.
In my own work, I too meditate at different times throughout the day, using only a few minutes to quiet myself, focus on my breathing, and sit in silence as a way to re-center. I find it extremely helpful to take these mindful pauses.
Under the suggestion of writing down plans and priorities, I thought he idea of mimicking Ben Franklin’s idea of the balance sheet was quite clever. Being conscious of the things we do well or our perceived weakness and assessing progress in both areas strikes me to be an important self-reflective exercise.
We have to rely on the feedback of our peers, friends, and mentors.
How often do we talk about feedback, but rarely do we get this conversation right? If we are honest with ourselves, feedback can be challenging to hear, process, and make useful. It requires work. As Tjan suggests, there is no more important work to be done if you want to be an effective leader. Leaders are learners, who learn best when they engage others in sharing information about how things are going. His simple two-step protocol is: (1) have a process for collecting feedback; and (2) effectively manage it. I think this implies that as the receiver of feedback, I need to take it seriously and it should be ongoing work.
Tjan concludes with the statement:
Building self-awareness is a life-long effort.
So it is. Let’s begin now if we want to get the most out of our leadership potential.