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What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

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.[GLS_Shield]
If you’d like some ideas regarding the type of questions you might ask, check out the FREE assessments on this site. The Heart of Leadership may be the best place to start.

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Five Blogs – 21 May 2014 | 5blogs

7 years ago

[…] What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You Written by: Mark Miller […]

Doug Smith

7 years ago

Excellent post. I am 28 years old and I find that the journey to become self-aware can be long and hard, but is definitely worth it. It’s helped me in all of my interactions with others, including those I lead. This post is going to help me give them a context for why it is important to become self-aware, and how to do it! Thanks for writing it!

Links for Leaders 5/30/14 | Do You Really Believe?

7 years ago

[…] or damage, especially when what you don’t know is about yourself. Mark Miller explains why what you don’t know can hurt you, and how to build your […]


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