The Critical Nature of Self-Awareness and Congruency in Leadership and Team Building

Key Concept ~ We all have blind spots.  Parts of our personalities that hide in the shadows of our subconscious mind.  Through our behaviors and interactions with others we often unknowingly create an impression of incongruity, even though this isn’t our intention.  Cultivating self-awareness can help us avoid this crucial misstep. It is the key to authentically engaging and inspiring your associates, clients, prospects, partners, and the community.  It is also the first step in creating cohesive teamwork.

How many times have we witnessed or been subjected to leaders that simply don’t walk their talk?  At times it can seem like this is more the norm than the exception.  It leaves one to wonder how exceptionally motivated, highly intelligent people that rise to positions of leadership can come across as utterly incongruent?  No one sets out to create this type of impression, so why does this disconnect occur?  The seeds of incongruent leadership can be found in a lack of authentic self-awareness.

Carl Jung, the revolutionary psychiatrist and father of analytical psychology, offered some remarkable insights on how the shadow of our unconscious mind reveals itself to our ego through our projections upon those around us. (Jung’s use of the term ego refers to our conscious mind’s perception of self).  This is often a blind spot, something we cannot readily see ourselves, but can be very obvious to those around us.  This lack of self-awareness can lead us to say one thing, yet behave in an entirely variant way.  When we do this from a position of leadership we undermine our ability to engage and motivate others.  They simple wont trust us and will begin to dismiss anything and everything we have to say.

The effects of this common disconnect are showing up consistently in surveys and research on the state of leadership today.  If you’re unfamiliar with the current research on this subject, you can read about it and find the references in two of my previous blogs; A Leadership Litmus Test and Ten Questions to Ask when Evaluating Leadership Development Programs.

Self-awareness is a fundamental competency of Emotional Intelligence.  Self-awareness leads to self management.  Social awareness helps us build relationship skills.  As we cultivate these competencies, Self Mastery emerges.  While it takes some practice, you’d be amazed at the positive affect it has on our success, in both our personal and professional lives.  The process is instantly sparked by becoming aware of the concept.  Yet this is only the first step.  Cultivating honest, self-awareness can be a bit uncomfortable at first.  It requires us to take a hard, cold look into the mirror (which is one of the reasons we work with horses in our development programs; they mirror human emotions and provide an experiential model of how we connect, engage, and motivate people).  While we might not like the blemishes we see, we cannot address our shortcomings and grow as authentic human beings and transformational leaders until we walk this path of authentic self-assessment.

Failing to do so can leave us vulnerable to being perceived as incongruent and untrustworthy.  Taken to the extreme, we can end up coming across like this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

© 2012, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central.

© 2012, Terry Murray.


Filed under Leadership Development, Team Building

3 responses to “The Critical Nature of Self-Awareness and Congruency in Leadership and Team Building

  1. Dear Sir,Please start with Liber Null, or Hands on Chaos magcik. Also begin to meditate and do yoga daily. If you do not see results, maybe start investigating local Hoodoo churches. I don’t really care to prove that magic works to people.If you care, dig in and get to work, otherwise, have fun with it.J

  2. Wonderful post Terry. I love the idea of leaders who have a deep understanding of how their thoughts and behaviors affect them and others. Self-awareness helps leaders become not only more effective in the workplace but also happier in all areas of their lives.

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