THE PRESENT PROBLEMS
With the blistering demands to reinvent your company fast enough to cope with evolving technologies, demographic shifts, scientific breakthroughs, heated competition, employee recruitment and retention, and seismic shifts in purchasing trends – your company will need greater depth and volume of leadership throughout the enterprise – to make change happen fast enough to succeed.
But leadership development has its problems now, and these problems will only worsen unless figured out sooner than later as demand increases for added leadership.
One obstacle is the very different psychological-cultural-technological nature of newer employees, Millenials and Gen Z. What worked in the past in leadership development, will not work with this younger cohort. Different mindset. Different relationship contexts and structures. Different worldviews. Different wants, desires, and life goals. Nonetheless, for your continued success, at least some of these younger employees and managers must become your future leaders.
Another challenging problem, which complicates things even further, the psycho-demographics of your mature employees are people who find change unwelcome. They often resist change. But it’s indisputable; leaders in this senior cohort are fundamental and critical for any change effort to occur.
Even if you go outside the company to hire, these issues will still exist. It’s universal.
The facts are clear, for your company to succeed in the future, you must be able to change swiftly and adroitly, and to do that, you need leadership. Your challenge is to figure out how to develop leadership within these two diverse groups.
Leaders lead change efforts. Leaders are the tip of the spear for change. Change always begins and is sustained by leaders.
The solution we have found that addresses the problem of advancing leadership development in both the younger and older groups is self-awareness.
SELF-AWARENESS IS THE KEY
It has been well-cited throughout the literature - the higher a person’s self-awareness, the more capable they are as a leader. The volume of books, articles, posts, and blogs on self-awareness and its relationship to leadership effectiveness is substantial.
Our assertion is having self-awareness as a valued and functional element of your company will directly and powerfully accelerate leadership development.
One immediate obstacle to establishing self-awareness throughout the company is the unexamined belief most senior executives and board directors have – the belief that greater self-awareness only occurs with years and years of life and work experience.
This unchecked yet extremely powerful belief alleges self-awareness can’t happen without long term experience, along with the maturity to engage with the people and processes necessary for self-awareness. This belief goes unbridled and comes with an implicit bias that self-awareness is strictly age-related.
Ageism in reverse. “The young can’t become wise because they are too young.”
Hate to be a spoiler- becoming self-aware is not age-related.
If you need greater leadership at every level, you need greater self-awareness at every level. And the deeper self-awareness you can generate in your workforce, the faster leaders can evolve.
Our particular model to achieve this end is to build what we call a “conscious culture,” where self-awareness is one of the three legs of the triangle model we use to form a conscious culture.
The other two legs of the triangle are purpose and core values, but please note, the purpose and core values must exist at a very visceral as well as measurable and operational level throughout the organization. The purpose and core values need to be palpable, real, fully engaged. Any inauthenticity of purpose or core values is poison to generating a conscious culture.
THE ONLY WAY ROUND IS THROUGH
To make clear, our approach to leadership development in both the younger and older personnel is by expanding self-awareness – individually and collectively. And, to expand self-awareness, so it penetrates and becomes embedded into the culture.
A conscious culture is a culture that demonstrates greater self-governance and self-management, therefore requiring fewer resources and less management time and effort. A conscious culture ensures better and more effective communication and stronger collegial relationships throughout the company.
Generating a process to ignite and develop greater self-awareness is most often provided by a trained professional, either a therapist, consultant, coach, or in my case, a benefactor. The good ones make sure you can do it yourself after they leave. No matter which professional you select, it will take time and money for self-awareness to become embedded and widespread.
This brings up the next vexing problem; many companies don’t consider self-awareness a worthy investment — work product over people product. Commitment shows up in two places – the calendar and the checkbook. How frequently does self-awareness show up in the checkbook or on the calendar?
Lacking commitment, self-awareness becomes a side-bar, a marginal player, a wordless participant in the company. Everyone knows what’s important, and it ‘ain’t’ self-awareness. When no one talks about it, it disappears.
In our work, to achieve greater self-awareness, clients need to go through shepherded self-examination. Only through the process of self-examination, can someone self-discover. Only when they self-discover can they consciously choose between keeping what they have or do, or changing what they have or do.
SUGGEST YOU CONSIDER
I suggest you consider the evidence that self-awareness directly enhances personal responsibility and communication effectiveness, which in turn directly hastens leadership maturation.
The greater the employee’s self-awareness - the stronger the employee’s ownership of their job and the deeper their loyalty to the company. Ownership and loyalty are critical precursors to leadership development and a consistent guide throughout the leadership development process.
The greater self-awareness of individuals, the more openly expressed self-awareness is in the culture – the more conscious the culture. At some point, the culture itself becomes a reservoir for self-awareness and now it’s part of the DNA of the company.
So besides a happier, more grounded, more authentic human being, through self-awareness, you at the same time generate a culture, which fosters people being more aware of who they are and how they think and behave.
Self-awareness allows you to plant, grow and harvest the seeds of leadership. Self-awareness is a proven and powerful route for success in developing leaders.
I use Bill’s video quite a bit with many of my clients. It is brilliantly delivered and it communicates the power and impact of self-awareness. https://www,youtube.com/watch?v=R9qVa4LoJx8
The Power of Self Awareness I William L. Sparks I TedxAsheville