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If you don’t know what you want for the business, how will your employees? A recent Harvard Business Review blog, How Leaders Become Self-Aware, argues that self-awareness is a critical factor in “business-building success.”
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As the author puts it: “It is self-awareness that allows the best business-builders to walk the tightrope of leadership: projecting conviction while simultaneously remaining humble enough to be open to new ideas and opposing opinions.”
As a company grows, however, holding onto that drive – that vision – can become much more difficult. 2012 MDM Market Mover MSCO Inc., for example, recognizes this challenge and makes culture and communication a priority as it continues its strong growth trajectory. “That’s a big challenge for us going forward. We’re looking every day for talented people to help us grow the business. That’s probably the No. 1 thing we’re focused on is protecting that culture and communicating and emulating that to the rest of our team,” says Doug Ruggles.
Valin CEO Joseph Nettemeyer echoes this sentiment and adds that when you’re growing, every opportunity is an exciting one. “We just have to contain ourselves and say, ‘Okay, let’s stay on schedule. Get this thing done, and then we’ll move to the next opportunity.’ The biggest challenge for me is to make sure the organization stays focused,” he says.
And that’s where being self-aware can help. HBR recommends three key ways to get a better handle on what drives you as a leader: Take personality and other tests to gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses; keep tabs on yourself – analyze your decisions and what results from those decisions; and finally, be aware of other members of your team. “Effective teams are made up of people who both understand and complement each other,” the blog author writes.
However, Brent Grover, author of The Little Black Book of Strategic Planning for Distributors, says business leaders are often reluctant to confront their goals for a business. They may be conflicted between a desire to leave a family legacy to their heirs and the urge to sell their companies. But in order to effectively lead a company, managers must understand what they want to achieve with the business so that they can guide the organization in the right direction at the right pace. (Read more about building a vision for your business in the book.)
While all of this may seem a little soft, the author of the HBR blog argues this kind of self-awareness as a leader is essential. Read the HBR blog here.