What do leaders need to know about themselves?

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Understanding our personal strengths and weaknesses is a fundamental of good leadership.

We evolve as we grow in age and experience. I had a recent exchange with a more senior work colleague, a leader for whom I have the utmost respect, who apologised to me for asking lots of questions about a series of very complex issues. I told him that I was grateful for all the questions, because by asking them he was demonstrating engagement with the plethora of complexities surrounding the topic. I told him that I was not the least bit concerned about answering what he termed as “dumb questions” because it’s often the obvious that’s missed first.

It’s the un-asked questions that are always more difficult.

When I was younger, I often lacked the confidence to ask what I thought might be a “dumb question” for fear of exposing myself as being ignorant. I have overcome this over the years. There are times and places for questions, but any ambiguity or lack of clarity over direction or an evolving solution do need to be addressed as early in a decision-making process as possible.

There are a number of tracks that this topic raises related to leadership, but the thought came to me as I reconsidered the notion of knowing oneself as a leader.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Knowing them as leaders is important. Good leaders know where and when to add value by knowing themselves well. Knowing oneself is founded on values. Honesty, openness, and fairness are three that I hold high amongst several personal values.

What are yours?

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