Which Leadership Quality Defines The Extraordinary Leader?

Leaders are self aware

  • Are you aware of your leadership qualities?
  • Do you realize what you do extraordinarily well?
  • Are you willing to look at what you’re not the best at?

The most effective leaders I’ve ever met are self-aware.  They are able to see things exactly as they are, without any judgement or prejudice.

In my research of what makes an extraordinary leader, the most common leadership qualities often cited include:

  • Passionate
  • Strong communication skills
  • Honesty
  • Confident
  • Compassionate
  • Committed

However, in my experience facilitating experiences designed to build teams and exercise leadership, these less discussed qualities often move the good leader to the extraordinary leader.

  • Ability to Acknowledge Themselves
  • Receive Acknowledgement
  • Asks for Support
  • Emotionally Intelligent / Emotionally Mature
  • Self-Awareness

Being self-aware is the one that really caught my attention today because if a leader is self-aware, then they can grow; they can learn the other skills.

If a leader isn’t conscious of what they are good at and what could use improvement, then they will never grow as a leader.  This always sounds strange to me, but it is quite common.

I think this ties back to vulnerability with themselves, if not others.

Maybe you learned early on that vulnerability is weak, when in fact, vulnerability is a leader’s greatest strength.  A touch of vulnerability when shared from the gut can inspire the troops because they see the leader as “real” and authentic.

An authentic “I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is we will meet this goal as a team….”, delivered from the heart is a way to build rapport and influence a team to come together in pursuit of a common cause.

Many are taught that to be that great leader, you can’t let anyone see weakness.

In fact, many of us were taught that we have to look like we know everything all the time or our ability to lead will be questioned.

Here is the weird truth….Whether you acknowledge your unique abilities and weaknesses or not, everyone still sees them.  The leader that tries to hide weaknesses actually shines the light on them, creating the perception of a lack of integrity and self-awareness.  Now, even if it isn’t obvious at the beginning, I’ve noticed that the lack of disclosure and authenticity begins to weigh heavy over time.

The self-awareness opens the door to being a model of what is possible as a leader.  You’re seen as willing to learn.  It shows the team that it’s ok not to know everything. That it’s a safe place to learn, make mistakes, grow and ask for support.

So how can you cultivate self-awareness?

Well you probably just became self-aware by reading this!  Great start! Now continue that but also take inventory on what you’re really great at….brag to yourself. ALLOW yourself the acknowledgement you deserve. You don’t need to scream it from the rooftops if you don’t want, but simply acknowledge it.

Then acknowledge what you consider a weaknesses, without judging whether it’s good or bad. Simply give yourself feedback.

And if you’re ready for the next step, ask for honest feedback. This part will test your emotional intelligence. Receive the feedback for what it is…just feedback from one person’s perspective.  It doesn’t make it necessarily right or wrong because that’s subject to your interpretation.

And there you go. If you’re a self-aware leader, then you can learn and grow.

Share your experience. What are your thoughts on this?