Got one of those LinkedIn Pulse emails recommending blog posts worth reading. One caught my eye: a Harvard Business Review piece entitled “5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware.” It’s advice on how to become a good leader.
Becoming self-aware is key, said the post, because “Self-awareness lets us better understand what we need from other people.”
To become more self-aware, readers are instructed to meditate, to have honest how-am-I doing conversation with trusted friends, to write down plans and priorities, to take a psychometric test (think Myers-Briggs type indicator) and to encourage formal feedback at work.
Inhaling, exhaling, journaling, accepting constructive criticism etc. have their place, their benefits and their limits. We’re human. Becoming more aware of our selfish human selves doesn’t fix us.
Knowing my Myers-Briggs type (ENTJ) and being a natural planner/priority setter didn’t make me a better leader a.k.a. manager. Most managers became managers because they were good at something else. The annual 360 feedback process is like a writing a novel. Once it’s written and read, what happens? In my experience, not much. The calendar turns toward the sequel.
Most people don’t need to “cultivate and develop” self-awareness. My problem, maybe yours too, is that I am all too aware of me – my needs, my wants, my desires, and my demands. I’m not unaware of other people. I simply don’t care as much about them as I do about me. Like the HBR blogger, I am focused on what I need from other people not on what I can give them.
Obsession with self-knowledge is not a biblical principle. The Bible encourages people to know God and, in the process, begin to know and understand ourselves. Our answer is outside ourselves and beyond other people.
The prophet Isaiah had a God encounter. When he saw the Lord, he also had a full-on moment of self-awareness. His response: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…” Isaiah 6:5
God-awareness is humbling; this makes us better prepared to lead. “Humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33
Biblical leadership is about denying self and serving others. Jesus, our example, went about selflessly doing good. In John 13, He strips down, suits up in a towel and bows down to wash the disciples’ feet. He willing goes to the cross, dying there to save them and the rest of us self-absorbed sinners.
Becoming that kind of leader isn’t something we’re likely to learn from Harvard Business Review. May I suggest a few tips from the pages of Scripture?
- Treat people as you’d like to be treated. Matthew 7:12
- Be merciful. You’ll need mercy one day. James 2:13
- Be humble. God knows how to exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:5-6
- Never take credit for someone else’s work. It’s stealing. Leviticus 19:11
- Pray for wisdom. Proverbs 2:6
That last is key. What we really need to lead well we can only receive from God.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17