Four critical skills to advance to environmental leadership – Part IV: Self-Awareness

Posted by: Jennifer Schultz, ECO Canada Throughout this blog series, we’ve explored how key skills like effective communication, motivating others and strategic thinking are required for environmental leaders. In the final part of the series, you’ll learn why environmental leadership requires self-awareness.

Why Self-Awareness Matters

Great leaders know what they’re good at, and more importantly, what they’re not good at. Demonstrating self-awareness means recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and being able to acknowledge that you don’t know all the answers. It means that others can count on you to be honest, respectful and get things done with others when you need help.

Are you self-aware?

See how you stack up against the following questions:
  • Do you know what skills make you stand out?
  • Do you know what skills you need to improve on?
  • Do you ask for help, when you don’t know the answer?
  • Do you observe your impact on others in a meeting or project?
  • Do you admit when you’re wrong?
If you’ve said no to any of the above, you may need to brush up on your self-awareness skills.

3 Ways to Build Self-Awareness

1. Leverage your Strengths and Confront your Weaknesses

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is more than your job skills, it also includes:
  • Your emotional strengths and vulnerabilities;
  • Your values and attitudes; and
  • Personality traits and unresolved conflicts.
A good place to start is taking personality tests like the Myers-Briggs. They can help you recognize how you interact with others, what motivates you and how you address problems. Consult with a trusted colleague and ask them to help identify where your strengths lay. They may notice qualities about yourself that you never thought of. Dig up your past performance reviews. Do you notice any trends or themes? Are there specific areas you’ve been asked to work on repeatedly? Are there glowing reviews in other areas? Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, question how crucial it is to your career success. You may be a weak public speaker, but you may not need this skill in your current role or the one you’re looking to advance into. If you do need the skill, make a plan on how you’ll develop it. Do you need skills training or coaching? What are the options available? When you start your skills development, identify what success would look like. That way, you’ll know whether you’ve accomplished your goal or need more training.

2. Behave with Humility

No one wants to work with some who is arrogant or boastful. Good leaders are humble and approachable. Humility doesn’t equal acting timid. You can be assertive, but still act with respect. Gain credibility and respect by:
  • Using the phrase, ‘You are right’ when you are wrong
  • Sharing credit when it’s due and pointing out how others contributed
  • Asking ‘How am I doing?’ and listening respectively to the answer

3. Be Mindful of your Impact on Others

We spend a great deal of our lives at work and with work colleagues. How you behave at work directly affects those around you. Staying aware of your impact on others demonstrates leadership. Remember, people make mistakes. Exercise empathy and compassion, and think about how the other person may be feeling or thinking. Be respectful. Address people’s feelings, not just the words they are saying. Just because they say “it’s OK”, it may not be a true reflection of their emotional state. After a stressful confrontation, reflect on what you could have done differently. We can never change another person or their behavior, but we can change how we react.

Environmental Leaders are Self-Aware

Build your self-awareness skills by leveraging your strengths and confronting your weaknesses, acting with humility, and being mindful of your impact on others. What are other ways you can improve this skill?
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