Leadership Self-awareness and assessment
To be a successful leader, you must be skilled at diplomacy, empathy, and being able to lead by example.
If you’re already in a leadership position, it may not be possible to get feedback from a superior. However, it is possible to monitor your own development
You can create your own plans for improvement through self-assessment. Self-assessments can be used by leaders to evaluate their own performance during a specified time period.
One of the simplest ways you can assess your own leadership development is through reflective journaling. This involves keeping a learning log on your development as a leader. You record your goals, expectations, and accomplishments.
You can follow a simple procedure for reflective journaling. For each significant leadership lesson you experience, first record what happened in your journal. Then ask yourself why you think it happened and record your thoughts. Finally, reflect on what can be learned from the experience for the future.
A leadership journal might ask a number of questions: “What difficult issues did I deal with today?”, “Who did I motivate?” and “How did I progress towards my goals?”
Once you record an event, you can reflect on what you think caused it. Try to think about your input, what you think you did correctly, and what you think you could have done to be a better leader in the situation. Finally, for each significant journal event, you record what you think you can learn from the experience for the future.
Surveys and checklists
Surveys and checklists are another form of self-assessment you can use for monitoring your own leadership progression. They can be used periodically to provide a quick assessment of where you are now and how you’re developing over time. They help to build leadership knowledge and skills by increasing your self-awareness and your relationship with others.
Some types of surveys enable you to check certain emotional competencies that contribute toward effective leadership. These surveys and checklists show whether or not you’re leading with enthusiasm, direction, and authority. Intangible qualities such as these are an important part of being a good leader but can be difficult to assess.
You can create your own emotional competencies survey or checklist by compiling lists of emotional competencies that are important for effective leadership. You can also tailor it to suit areas you wish to work on over time.
There is a simple procedure you can follow to use surveys and checklists for effective self-assessment:
- create a survey based on leadership competencies, not just in the areas you’re most interested but in as many areas as you think are relevant
- fill in the survey and notice your self-perceptions as you assess yourself in different areas
- note the patterns and areas for development that emerge from your answers – this helps you assess your progress in subsequent surveys
Leaders can complete their own surveys and work on any issues these surveys highlight. They can then complete the survey again at a later stage and compare their results to their initial surveys.
360-degree feedback is a full-circle review that reveals the big picture of how other’s see your performance. The first step in the procedure involves your peers, supervisors, and direct reports completing a confidential survey about you that contains a broad range of leadership competency questions. Raters are asked to rate competencies and provide written feedback. Finally, you receive the results and compare the results to your own survey.
The benefit of 360-degree feedback is that it allows you to see your actual performance and to understand the difference between this and how you think you are performing. It provides a reality check by helping to develop your own sense of self-awareness as a leader and your confidence in assessing your own performance.
You can design your own 360-degree feedback survey. There are some common competencies shared by effective leaders that you can include:
- inspirational leaders are usually honest, forward-thinking, motivating, and competent
- they possess vision, realism, ethics, and courage
- they develop the foundations of inspirational leadership by modeling, sharing, challenging, enabling, and encouraging others
- they have the ability to activate inner greatness by showing integrity, credibility, by balancing equity and responsibility, and giving hope
You can use these leadership competencies as a guide to creating your own survey. Once you’ve created and completed the survey, you should be able to consolidate results and identify patterns. It may help to use a sample survey as a starting point. Once you become more experienced in developing and analyzing results, you can design more tailored surveys for yourself.
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