The Entrepreneurship and Leadership Series: Part 3
Why Self-Awareness Matters in Business
Throughout the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Series, we have been exploring why strong leadership skills are needed to be a successful business owner. In this post, we will discuss the leadership skill of self-awareness and how it impacts your company.
Read Part 1 Here: Why Does Leadership Matter for the Entrepreneur?
Read Part 2 Here: Why to Put Your Customer First
For an entrepreneur, self-awareness is the ability to correctly identify and properly act upon your strengths and weaknesses for when it comes to running your business.
Why self-awareness matters in business
According to CB Insights, the third highest reason startups fail is due to not finding the right team. Their research shows that these companies often are not hiring the right team because they do not have the self-awareness needed to identify that they are lacking specific skill sets within themselves or their starting teams.
The lack of awareness causes the company to fail because the knowledge gap was not recognized until it was too late to recover. Instead of being able to implement changes, hire team members, or expand knowledge, the business is on a downward spiral in which they cannot recover.
How being self-aware helps
No one is perfect, and no one has the knowledge or ability to do it all. Even when you have partners, as a whole, you might be lacking the knowledge or skills you need to be successful long-term. The talents that got you here might not get you to the level of success you desire next.
When you are not self-aware, you are unable to identify where you might need help to run your business correctly. If you cannot recognize that there is a problem, the problem itself will never be fixed.
Being self-aware helps your business because you know what needs to be done to succeed long-term and where you need to dedicate financial or other resources.
Self-awareness and leadership
While we might all be able to identify flaws in others, noticing our own weaknesses is not always as easy. Top leaders, however, can distinguish their own weaknesses as well as their team’s. They also recognize that different weaknesses might present themselves as their company or team changes.
Once weaknesses are identified, the best leaders are then able to recognize the need to bring in support or knowledge resources to close the gap. This can be through finding additional partners, employees, advisors, or freelancers and contractors.
Being self-aware also helps you as a leader connect better with the people you hire to complete work for your business. When you know that you are not an expert or the best at a skill, you tend to build a more trusting relationship with those who you have hired to fill that role. Instead of always trying to lead with your authority, you show that your team members and their skills are valuable to the company’s success and that you trust them. Valued and trusted employees tend to be happier and more loyal.
Also, when you are a self-aware leader, you also understand that you have and will make mistakes. Reflecting on and remembering those errors also helps you grow and makes you more prepared for the future.
How you can improve
With self-awareness not being a natural skill for a lot of us, let’s look at how you can grow this skill set to become a better leader for your business.
The best way is through the collection of feedback. This can be from your work partners, employees, freelancers, contractors, customer, or close family and friends.
Once you receive feedback, try to identify what they told you, the good and the bad, in your behavior.
For example, someone tells you that a strength of yours is communicating the next steps of a project. The next time you are delivering the next steps of a project, become aware of your communication and actions. Identify what you are doing to make it a great interaction.
The same can be done with the negative feedback. Use the feedback to increase your self-awareness by looking for the behavior within your actions.
Sometimes, the behavior might be hard for you to identify. It’s important for you to remember that if someone is delivering you feedback, they perceived this behavior in you. Even if they react differently than other people, their perception matters. Being self-aware allows you to pick up on these differences and better prepares you for future situations with these individuals.
Overall, once you can notice what others are pointing out through feedback, you can start to build your self-awareness to a point where you can identify your own strengths and weaknesses before other people tell you what they are.
The next step is to give yourself a self-review. Just like you would give an employee an annual review, write one for yourself. For each section of the evaluation, whether based on goals, competencies, or both, give yourself a suggestion for improvement. Even if you cannot think of anything you do poorly, identify how you might be able to get better.
This exercise helps you recognize that even when you might be doing things well, you are not perfect. Understanding that you have room for growth helps to build self-awareness.
You need to become self-aware
As an entrepreneur, you need to be a top leader to take your company down a path of long-term success. To be a top leader, you need self-awareness.