I read an article recently about the challenges facing business leaders in Ireland in preparing their organisations for Brexit. It led me to reflect on an insightful paper by Donald Schön back in 1971 (Beyond the Stable State, 1971). It occurred to me that great organisational intellects like Schön can capture the essence of what is important for business leaders to focus on. These core truths, which persist over the long term, are a source of valuable insight for business leaders who need to respond to challenges in the short term.
What is Self-Awareness? The Oxford English Dictionary definition of self-awareness is “Conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings”. The first psychological study of self-awareness dates back to the early 1970s, and more recently the work of Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence (knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions) has recognised that self-awareness is a major contributor to success, both at work and in day to day life.
As an Executive Coaching practice we frequently work with our clients on leadership presence and impact. Sometimes it is described to us as a desire for more gravitas – a wish to cultivate an air of natural authority, be unflappable, depict calm confidence, or achieve an air of being worth listening to. Presence or gravitas is usually presented as a key ingredient in achieving greater success or renown, and more often than not our clients would like a few handy tips… however in our experience this is an inside job! The source of real presence requires the client to uncover and make sense of their stories – to go below the line.
“We had the experience – but missed the meaning” T.S Eliot
Leadership can often be confused with a level of seniority, a role or a title, but in fact the work of leading is about influencing people and processes in the service of accomplishing a collective aim or group goal. It is about creating results that benefit the organisation’s stakeholders.