As leaders, we are constantly facing challenges and choices — not just within our organizations but within ourselves.
One of the leaders I coach told me recently, “I have allowed my lack of self-awareness and my hard-charging energy to bring down the people around me and I need it to stop. I am not sure why I do this, but I don’t like it. It is not getting me what I want and I need it to change. I need help.”
Most leaders tend to be oriented toward action, and from that mindset it’s easy to think that time spent reflecting about themselves as time wasted. But nothing could be further from the truth. Knowing yourself, having awareness of yourself, is as essential to leadership as breathing is to being human.
The notion that we just lead outwardly and spend no time inwardly belies the value of introspection. Introspection and its byproduct, self-awareness, are central to any leadership, no matter what level or position. It is the essence of decision-making, behavioral efforts, action, focused energy, prioritization.
Introspection is the key to clarifying what you stand for and what matters to you — in other words, what is important. It drives who we are in all aspects of our leadership.
Introspection allows you to filter out the noise and distraction and prioritize how you invest your time, your mind, and your heart. Introspection allows you to better know yourself and understand the aspects of yourself that to need to developed and changed. Introspection leads you toward clarity and allows those who follow you to know who is leading them.
The benefits of introspection are many:
- Discernment about whether you are doing the right thing.
- Understanding the origins of your decisions and the issues that affect your judgment.
- Insight into the impact of your decisions.
- Clarity in connecting and communicating effectively with others.
- Ease in navigating complex situations.
When introspection merges mind and heart, the value is immense. Taking time to look within on a regular basis can make a huge difference in your life and leadership.
It eases the mind in complicated issues, it makes the will of decision making easier, and it brings focus when setting priorities.
You find that you’re much less often surprised by unexpected outcomes. And even when you do face such a surprise, you are better positioned to use it as a means to something better.
Leadership must come from the heart. It must be rooted in the world you work and live within, and reflect your beliefs, your values, your life experiences, your professional path. Grounded in knowledge of self, your leadership becomes authentically your own.
So the next time you think you don’t have time to sit and go inward, think again. It is going inward that helps your leadership stretch outward. Lead from within: Make the time to invest in yourself; the rewards will be immense for yourself and your leadership.
Lolly Daskal is dedicated to helping cultivate the right values, vision, and culture for individuals and organizations. She is the founder of Lead from Within, a global consultancy whose clients range from heads of state and CEOs of large multinational companies to budding entrepreneurs. Daskal’s coaching, consulting, and speaking uses a heart-based leadership approach designed to help people to achieve their full potential to make a difference in the world.