Taking the big step from managing people to leading others requires a leap in leadership self-awareness. Here’s what I read the other day from Marshall Goldsmith on the Harvard Business Review blog:

“A leader who is self-aware enough to know that he or she is not adept at everything is one who has taken the first step toward being a great leader.”

If you’ve ever worked for a micro-manager, you know this happens a lot. You can’t do your best work with the boss breathing over your shoulder. When micro-managed, you feel like you aren’t being trusted to figure things out by yourself and you have no autonomy. This happens when the boss is unwilling to admit she can’t do it all.

Such leaders are closing out the talents of others by not divesting themselves from the day-to-day problem-solving activities of the company. No one person should do it all — and if they are self-aware, most people will realize that they really aren’t capable nor knowledgeable enough to do it all.

As a boss, do you distinguish between what you need to do versus what you should pass along to your team? Does your boss?

Following is a list of things you can do to achieve self-awareness and personal mastery in leadership from Goldsmith’s HBR post:

  • Observe your performance. Notice the things you excel at. Recognize the areas you aren’t particularly good at. Communicate these to your team.
  • Accept that failures and mistakes are just one step on the road to success.
  • Hone your ability to see how your behavior has an impact on other people: this is a truly critical leadership skill.
  • When you hear criticism that  is difficult to accept, there is probably some truth to it.
  • And, finally, learn to give yourself credit for improving and in doing so, appreciate that others also improve and tell them so.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this; you can contact me here or on LinkedIn.