Mind the Gap

stephen blandino Dec 30, 2021

We hear a lot in leadership circles about the importance of self-awareness. The reason is simple: good self-awareness brings focus to your growth, whereas low self-awareness undermines your life and leadership. To mitigate weaknesses and maximize impact, leaders must engage five levels of self-awareness.

Level 1: Awareness of your strengths. Leaders make their greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God through their strengths. Assessments like Myers Briggs and Strengthsfinder are great tools that will help you discover how you’re uniquely wired. Another helpful way to discover your strengths is to reflect on your past successes. Patterns of success usually reveal your greatest giftedness. Finally, ask a trusted leader, “What have you observed to be my top two strengths?”

Level 2: Awareness of your gaps. Gaps are the areas where we exhibit vulnerabilities and limitations. Gaps generally appear in three ways: weaknesses, liabilities, and our shadow side. Weaknesses are areas where God did not gift you. If you’re unaware of weaknesses, you’ll be prone to attempt things God never intended you to do. Liabilities include gaps in your character, integrity, and attitude (just to name a few). If left unaddressed, these liabilities will eventually sabotage your life. And your shadow side is the dark side of leadership that breeds pride, impure motives, and selfish ambition. It’s more than a gap… it’s your sin nature. When leaders are unaware of gaps, they become toxic to the people and churches they lead.

Level 3: Awareness of your sources of influence. Leaders have a primary way in which they influence people. Their source of influence might be their ability to build relationships, their expertise, or their character and spirituality. However, leaders can also influence out of unhealthy sources, such as manipulation, fear or spiritual abuse. Having this awareness helps you intentionally choose positive sources of influence and mitigate sources where you are most vulnerable.

Level 4: Awareness of your emotions. Leadership is all about people, and one of the greatest keys to connecting with people is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence focuses on awareness and management of your own emotions, as well as awareness of other people’s emotions and how you manage those relationships. When you develop emotional intelligence, your emotional awareness increases, and you’re able to better exercise empathy, listening, and conflict resolution.

Level 5: Awareness of your blind spots. Every leader has blind spots, which is why you must create a safe environment for others to point them out. One way to do this is through staff reviews. Before doing reviews, I provide each of our staff members with a survey. Two of the question I ask in the survey are, “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” and “If you could speak into my leadership, what would you say to help me get better?” Questions like this help me glean feedback that reveals my blind spots.

Author Steve Moore once said, “If my lack of self-awareness is caused by ignorance, I need information. If it is caused by confusion, I need clarification. If it is caused by denial, I need confrontation.” By choosing to improve self-awareness, you’ll grow your strengths, eliminate your gaps, leverage influence wisely, lead with emotional intelligence, and be equipped to address your blind spots.



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