The American Idol contestant who thinks they can sing, but who can’t hold a tune to save themselves.

The skinny friend who thinks she is fat.

And the extreme? Hitler – who saw himself as a prophet and messiah.

These may be radical cases of low self-awareness, but for many of us, how we view ourselves is often distorted.

Either we are too harsh, or we overestimate our current performance.

Warped or inflated self-perception is a widespread problem in leadership.

One poll found 90 percent of leaders believe they are in the top 10 percent of performers (Church, 1997)!

Blind spots. Low self-awareness. These are the nemeses of good leadership.

And a strong sense of your strengths, weaknesses, motivations and tendencies is the anecdote.

How can you strive to truly see yourself as others see you?

There are many, but here are 5 simple ways to increase your self-awareness:

  1. Participate in a 360 degree feedback exercise.
  2. Regularly ask your direct reports – what do you want me to stop doing, keep doing, start doing and do more of, in order for me to lead you better? And don’t let them stop until they have at least two things under the first point.
  3. Get an executive coach.  Good coaches hold a mirror up to you and give you feedback on your patterns of behaviour which are both helpful and limiting.
  4. Ask your boss and peers what they think your strengths, weaknesses and underutilised skills are.
  5. Reflect. Make space in your diary for reflection. Meditation or mindfulness, journalling and exercising in solitude are all ways to help you tune into yourself more effectively.

Self-awareness is such a crucial factor associated with high performance and potential. It’s also a blingin’ good indicator of long-term career success.

Make time to get to know yourself better – and see yourself as others see you.

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