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.


 
 

 

Comprehensive support system helps unit resiliency

In today’s Air Force environment of force restructure, budgetary constraints, continued mission requirements and resiliency, establishing a comprehensive support system in a unit is absolutely essential for success. Each organizational tier, whether at the element, flight or squadron level, must be resilient and have support mechanisms in place to not only meet, but exceed daily...
 
 

Preparing for next rank makes successful Airmen

As Airmen we have many responsibilities and duties we must carry out in accordance with our jobs. According to AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, our responsibilities are as follows: junior enlisted Airmen initially focus on adapting to military requirements, achieving occupational proficiency and learning how to become highly productive members of the Air Force....
 
 

Dollars and Sense

Want a copy of your leave and earning statement? LESs for separated or retired Air Force service members are not available from myPay. Requests must be sent via email to the Military Pay Historical Records Branch at ampo-verify-les-@dfas.mil or fax to 317-275-0123. For more information on the data required for the request, go to the...
 

 
Oculus-movie-poster

Fly Over: 43rd Express Vietnamese Restaurant, and ‘Oculus’

Eating out: 43rd Express Vietnamese Restaurant For those who don’t know me, I’m a big foodie. I love trying different foods from a variety of cultures, but my favorite is Asian cuisine. Being in Arizona, where the Asian pop...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Chaplain’s Thoughts

Courtesy photo Reinhold Niebuhr “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr Continuing with the theme of wisdom ...
 
 

Three steps to avoid ‘toxic leadership’

Toxic leadership. Sadly, this term has recently become vogue in the lexicon of the Defense Department to describe leaders possessing unfavorable leadership characteristics and whose actions eventually rot an organization from the inside out. Examples of these leaders drape across the weekly headlines and sound bites of newspapers, radio and television. “Leaders” who become drunk...
 




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