"Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing." - Lawrence Bossidy
Before I get too far into this post I need to clarify that I do believe there is a significant difference in caring what others think and being aware of how oneself is perceived.
An area of leadership that I have tried very hard to grow in is supporting staff. Years ago as I transitioned from the classroom to the principalship I believe most people saw me as an individual that connected well with students. That connection with students made it a bit easier to be on the same page as parents. Unfortunately I don't believe all staff felt supported along the way. This was never my intention, but it was the reality.
Why is this important?
I ask, how are you perceived? Are you approachable? Do people seek your thoughts? Do others view you as positive or negative? Are you outgoing or reserved? Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses?
What this is truly about is self-awareness. Self-awareness is one of the 5 critical components to emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence involves the ability to understand and manage emotions. Experts agree this type of intelligence plays a vital role in an individuals ability to succeed. Emotional intelligence is connected to every form of decision-making process you can think of.
Recently I listened to an Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast focusing on Enneagrams. If you're anything like me this word was, or is, foreign to you. From one point of view, the Enneagram can be seen as a set of nine distinct personality types, with each number on the Enneagram denoting one type. It is common to find a little of yourself in all nine of the types, although one of them should stand out as being closest to yourself. This is your basic personality type.
After listening to Andy's podcast I was strongly compelled to take the test and find out more.
To my core I work with people. It is inherently important to me to continue to grow and be the very best I can be. However, your growth will be limited if you do not have an open-mind, growth-mindset and most importantly, an honest understanding of yourself.
Before I get to the results I should share a recent story that brings light to self-awareness and empathy. This past year in some ways was extremely challenging. In one particular classroom the teacher and I participated in numerous meetings with families, social workers, doctors, and Intermediate School District personnel. In most meetings I take a very similar tactic. I listen. As I listen I try very hard to read the situation and figure out what the problem is, what questions should be asked, and what options could possibly improve the situation. However it is important to understand that I'm not aggressive, I'm patient. This approach has left staff members feeling unsupported, as if I didn't have their back. Even in this moment it pains me to share that. I never wanted a staff member to feel this, but that was the reality.
I share this because it circles back to the significance of self-awareness. How are you perceived?
My belief is knowledge is power. An increased awareness provides the opportunity to grow oneself. What you do with the information is entirely up to you.
At the end of the day I took the Enneagram test. I'm now diving into the report because it is important to me to increase my own self-awareness. Personally, I think the test has me pretty pegged. But that is only step 1. The real truth will be how I use the information to grow.
How self-aware are you? Do you know your own blind spots? Do you know your own tendencies? Do you know your strengths? I encourage you to take the time to become more self-aware. If you're interested here is a link to an Enneagram site.
Mr. Gilpin is a people first educator that is focused on serving others, building relationships, student engagement and empowering staff.