Commentary

December 20, 2013

Self awareness — A key to leadership development

Lt. Col. MICHAEL EBNER
61st Fighter Squadron

As part of our enduring quest to become better Air Force leaders we must always strive to develop ourselves.

One way to do this is for each of us to build an accurate assessment of ourselves. Without a keen sense of self-awareness leaders can easily operate in the dark without regard to their subordinates’ attitudes, opinions and perceptions. With accurate self-awareness leaders become more effective due to their ability to adapt and improve.

I think of building self-awareness as a four-step process.

Number one, determine what others think. Number two, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Number three, find ways to improve and finally, test and assess. This process is a leadership tool that will, at worst, yield minor leadership improvements and, at best, transform leadership styles.

Early on in Airmen’s careers during formal training, instructors assess performance and tell Airmen their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to improve. The Air Force essentially does self-awareness for you.

After formal training, the amount and frequency of feedback diminishes, requiring Airmen to conduct their own self-assessment in addition to the Air Force’s formal evaluations. Supervisors should provide regularly scheduled formal feedback sessions, which provide a fantastic venue for determining what others think. Even if this formal feedback session passes by, leaders should always attempt to get feedback from both supervisors and subordinates.

Informal settings often allow for free-flowing, unguarded conversation that can provide insight into others’ opinions and perceptions. Furthermore, a trusted agent like a mentor, spouse or roommate can offer unfiltered opinions that build accurate assessments. Leaders should always strive to see what others think — it is a key ingredient to self-awareness.

After listening to others, leaders must be completely honest and identify their own strengths and weaknesses. This second step requires reflection on previous experiences, both good and bad. Ask yourself what things you do well and what areas you need to improve. If leaders think of themselves above reproach then they will seal their own perilous fate. Don’t be afraid, be a tough critic. Leaders can only truly change through a thorough, personal self-assessment.

Once improvement areas are identified, leaders must determine a means to fix their weaknesses and improve. This third step does not happen overnight. Leaders need to plan and think through the implementation. Without a plan the status quo will prevail, and there will not be any improvement or change.

The last step in the process is to test and assess the means of improvement. Often this test is a change in behavior or action from previous methods. For most, change is difficult and therefore, must be practiced and given time.

The self-awareness process is simply one component to leadership development. After reading this article I challenge you to look through the leadership lens and think of two strengths and two weaknesses you have. Then think about how you can improve upon those weaknesses and change your behavior. By doing so you’ll become a more effective leader.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

New form second chance to do EPRs right

Without fail, every time I am around a group of young NCOs, there is one subject guaranteed to come up — the enduring question of “How can I write a stronger EPR for my Airman?” My answer to this question is fairly standard and is one that a chief shared with me many years ago....
 
 

Plan for final out

How many of you are prepared for life outside of the military? Seriously, if you were told tomorrow was your final out, what would you do? We are currently in an environment where Defense Department rollbacks are a serious issue we must all contemplate. Fewer officers are being commissioned. Last year there was only one...
 
 

Dollars and Sense

As the economy has slowly moved along, the total amount Americans owe has increased 5 percent from last year. Revolving credit card debt has increased $12 billion in the last three months, according to the Federal Reserve. Airmen mired in debt may be tempted to take out payday loans or title loans, transfer balances to...
 

 
Stonewords-pic

Fly Over: Haus Murphy’s Authentic Bavarian food in Glendale’s historic district and ‘Stonewords: A Ghost Story’

Haus Murphy’s Authentic Bavarian food in Glendale’s historic district The West Valley landscape is dotted with fast food franchises, Mexican restaurants and Chinese super buffets, so it’s a rare treat to find a local rest...
 
 

Knocking it out of park means excellence

Over the past several years the Defense Department has seen an unprecedented reduction in force. Twenty years ago when I was a young Airman learning the Air Force ropes, our active-duty force was more than 421,000 strong. Today, our end strength stands at just over 323,000 Airmen, a reduction of roughly 100,000 personnel. Because of...
 
 

Gut check: Where do you stand?

Since the beginning of our Air Force careers, the majority of us have been taught that in order to lead, we need to lead by example and lead from the front. Today, that has not changed. However, as we all know, it is virtually impossible for all to be in front at the same time,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin