Self-awareness and leadership

mirrorAll of us leadership development types have our favorite self-awareness tools and assessments. During my leadership career I keep coming back to things that I’ve learned while exploring my MBTI type. If you’re not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it might be worth looking at. Here are some concepts that have been useful for me.

Introvert vs. Extravert. This is not about how much I like people or how shy I am, it’s about where I recharge my energy. Years ago I taught a two-day leadership development class with a colleague. It was always highly engaging and interactive. At the end of the class I was ready to go home and sit in front of the fire with a beverage of my choice. Javier would go out to the local pub and play with his band. Guess which of us was the introvert?

It’s taken me a while to understand the pros and cons of introverted leadership. Recent books such as Marti Olsen Laney’s “The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World” have pointed out that extroversion is the leadership norm in our culture. On the other hand, I know that I bring strengths to the table because of my unique set of preferences, including introversion. One example is that people respect me as a confidant and know that I will not discuss their confidences with others.

Intuition vs. Relying on my 5 Senses: Another lesson from MBTI is that I am highly intuitive. As a leader this can be extremely useful. It can also drive others crazy. Combined with other strengths and preferences, it means I have a tendency to look into the future and see likely outcomes of particular options. To other people this can look like gazing into a crystal ball. I need to be careful to help others see why I reach the conclusions that I do.

These two lessons from MBTI have helped me be a better leader by being aware of my strengths and areas where I need to be careful of how I communicate with others. How have leadership assessments helped you be more effective?

Dee Anne Bonebright


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