Academics and businesspeople agree that self-awareness is a key aspect of improving performance. Studies show that without it, people tend to be closed-off to feedback, difficult to coach, overestimate capabilities, and ultimately struggle to build and maintain high performing teams. Conversely, awareness of one’s own behavioral tendencies facilitates leadership effectiveness.
As it’s generally understood that self-awareness is essential for improvement, it might follow that investment in leadership development would result in increased effectiveness. But there is actually a strong negative correlation between spending on development and confidence in leadership, which highlights an unfortunate conclusion: The majority of managers and executives aren’t receiving interventions that move the needle. In fact, at least half of all leaders get in the way of team productivity and don’t live up to their full potential. And, perhaps even more concerning, executive turnover costs organizations somewhere between 50-200% of a leader’s annual salary—thus making it vastly consequential to the bottom line.
Why aren’t interventions changing the behavior of bad leaders and improving financial results? I think it’s because many researchers and practitioners use an individualistic (and inaccurate) definition of self-awareness that emphasizes self-knowledge and strengths over ways to improve one’s reputation with others. From my perspective, the goal of self-knowledge and celebrating yourself is inward looking, antisocial, and selfish—when leadership is a team sport and function for the group, as opposed to a source of personal privilege and individual power. Read More »