Awareness of personal strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement
What is it?
Self-awareness is the ability to take an accurate inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and to be aware of our emotions in the day to day living of our lives, personally and professionally.
Why is it important?
Knowing what we’re good at gives us the confidence to tackle new challenges and learn new skills. In contrast, unless we know where we’re deficient, we will rarely be motivated to make changes. Being tenaciously honest about our shortcomings helps us know what we need to work on. There is no shame in having weaknesses. We all have them. It’s better to know what they are and to manage them.
Ask for Feedback
Often professionals in a fast pace environment, such as in healthcare settings, don’t know or care about what others think of them; among others, this may be due to a lack of time and self-reflection, or need to prioritize. This is dangerous territory. We should be *very* interested in how we are perceived by patients and co-workers. As a leader, we might need to adapt our working style for particular employees and peers to be able to empower them and get the best from them. But we won’t always know what’s working and what’s not working until we ask. This simple act not only engenders good faith, it yields meaningful information that can help us become better leaders.
Find a Mentor
We not only need a good mentor, we need one who will tell us the truth. It’s not always easy to get honest feedback from direct reports due to the power differential in the relationship. They are often afraid that if they’re honest, they’ll be punished or strain relationships. Mentors don’t have that problem as often. Find someone who will be brutally honest with you and ask them for feedback. Have them do an assessment of your skills and make recommendations about what you need to do to improve. Create a development plan and get together periodically to discuss your progress.
Know your Triggers
We have to be aware of when we are feeling angry, hurt, or anxious. Then we can figure out what triggered those feelings. We might feel frustrated with underperforming co-workers/employees or saddened by the loss of a patient. When we don’t understand the source of our emotions, we lose perspective and become stuck. Over time, we experience significant emotional distress and get worn down. While it’s not always easy to do, the formula is clear. Be aware of negative emotions, understand where they came from, and then put them in perspective.