Leader Self-Awareness: Averting the Train Wreck
Self-awareness is an important—if not the most important—quality of good leaders. This newsletter highlights three leadership assessments that pinpoint strengths as well as challenges in personality and behavioral style. Heightening awareness of strengths allows leaders to diminish the negative impact they have on others.
After closing my laptop on Walter White for the last newsletter, another angle occurred to me. What would the outcome have been had he understood himself better? From our initial perspective as viewers, we saw him as something of an underachieving, mild-mannered chemistry teacher who was utterly lacking ambition, largely because this was the view he had of himself. Early disappointments had defeated him and, from all we could tell, he had succumbed to the erosion of his confidence. But the complete range of personality traits is never fully visible until applied under pressure. This was certainly true for Walter. Prior to his cancer, he was a mild-mannered chemistry teacher, but after the cancer diagnosis he became the narcissistic, secretive, destructive meth cook that we couldn’t take our eyes off of. The impending train wreck was fascinating.
What if Walter had come to me for coaching? An unusual thought I admit, but many leaders have either been referred or have self-referred to me who possessed powerful strengths but who were also struggling in halting the runaway locomotive. Self-awareness for these leaders is vital and the technology now exists for helping your key individuals improve their strengths while diminishing their weaknesses. Let me briefly discuss.
The Style of Influence Assessment (SOI)
This simple looking profile actually offers quite a complex overview of an individual’s behavioral style. Results tell us how an individual will actually behave both now and in the future. It also gives clear indication of strengths and areas to diminish. The individual above is a big picture thinker and is most comfortable in a creative role where they are allowed to generate ideas and solve problems in a rapid, fast moving environment. This individual’s glaring weakness is that they are likely bored with details and will probably fail to follow up on some important projects. If this had been Walter White I would have warned him that others would view him as a genius initially although most would view him as self-centered in a short while. Our coaching would have then centered around his resentment in being previously excluded by friends from a successful company.
The Emotional Intelligence Assessment (EQ-i)
The EQ-i measures an individual’s ability to build and maintain relationships. A high degree of emotional intelligence is now widely regarded as more important in leadership success than traditional views of intelligence which is largely based on accumulated knowledge and the ability to synthesize information. Walter’s scores would likely have shown deficits in self-regard, self-actualization, and emotional self-awareness. His empathy score would have been low as was his social responsibility score. Put them all together and we would have a picture of Walter as horribly self-centered and compensating with his view of a life without purpose.
His lack of social responsibility and empathy caused him to see “empire building” as his path to self-worth.
Extended DISC Assessment
The Extended DISC has been around for some time now and remains one of the best tools for heightening self-awareness around both natural and adapted (pressure reactions) style.
As opposed to the individual in this profile, Walter would have shown to be a “C” style with a long arrow toward “D”. These results would have suggested that he was a perfectionist leaning toward anal. Under pressure he would have been grumpy at best and utterly dominating and self-centered at worst. Intense competition would reveal itself under pressure and he would not have demonstrated appreciation, caring or recognition for a job well done.
The plan of action for Walter:-Understanding profile types of people who work for him
-Gain flexibility in his own leadership style
-Gain a sense of work on increasing his empathy and social responsibility.
-Improve in his emotional expression through greater self- awareness.
Our next article will focus on another very well known leader and how ongoing coaching sessions would help the misperceptions that he has of himself. Hint: Terminus was no sanctuary.