In the McKinsey Quarterly article, “Do you have the right leaders for your growth strategies?”, one of the important aspects of leadership that was not included in the assessment was self-awareness. For those who have climbed through the ranks and become leaders either by choice or by chance, there might not be the opportunity for self-reflection that allows the leader to do a gut check and make sure they are the right leader for their company’s growth strategies. When ambition is involved, leaders might be more focused on getting to the top than ensuring that they are truly the best fit to be at the top. It is the self-aware leaders who truly understand their strengths and weaknesses, and know where to employ support in areas of growth, that can motivate their staff and carry out aspirational strategies. I have personally been in a work environment where an executive made it to his role by chance. He had been at the organization during its founding and as the company grew, he got promoted based on longevity of service rather than merit of work. In my opinion, this type of person is an “accidental leader” whereby there was no strategy in placing them in a leadership role yet they somehow find themselves at the steering wheel, managing large staffs with responsibility for instituting growth strategies. There is nothing more frustrating than working for one of these individuals who do not have the self-awareness, or interest in becoming self-aware for that matter, to admit their weaknesses and step forward to realize they might not be the best leader to execute growth for the company. In this case, pride can be dangerous to a company and I have witnesses its adverse effects on improving leaders.
In this weekend’s New York Times, Laura Yecies, chief executive of SugarSync, an online storage service, was interviewed about her leadership style. I was impressed by the self-awareness of her leadership style that she exhibited in this interview. She spoke of the fact that her staff completes a 360-degree review of her each year. Only a leader with confidence would be willing to undertake this process and this means she is committed to the company first, even if that means uncovering some of her personal weaknesses. She discussed how areas that were, in fact, uncovered, were areas she specifically focused on throughout this past year. This speaks volumes to her employees who, when also faced with criticism, will be more motivated to change by her example. She also discussed the importance of recruiting people who are self-aware, which means that she herself sees this as a necessary value to contribute to the organization. In situations where leaders can truly exhibit this self-awareness, they are more likely to be the “right leaders” to carry on a company’s growth strategies.
“When you write a report card, explain the grades” | http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/business/laura-yecies-of-sugarsync-on-thoughtful-evaluations.html?ref=business