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Self Leadership

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Recent research has revealed a nearly unanimous answer to a question about the most important capability for leaders to develop: self-awareness. Self-awareness means being aware of the internal aspects of one’s nature, such as personality traits, emotions, values, attitudes, and perceptions, and appreciating how your patterns affect other people. It is critical for a leader to understand the importance of self-awareness and how to recognize your blind spots. Personality is the set of unseen characteristics and processes that underlie a relatively stable pattern of behavior in response to ideas, objects, or people in the environment. The value of the Big Five for leaders is primarily to help them understand their own basic personality dimensions and then learn to emphasize the positive and mitigate the negative aspects of their own natural styles. By perception, we mean the process people use to make sense out of their surroundings by selecting, organizing, and interpreting information. Of particular concern for leaders are perceptual distortions, errors in perceptual judgment that arise from inaccuracies in perception. Stereotyping is the tendency to assign an individual to a group or broad category (e.g., female, black, elderly or male, white, disabled) and then to attribute widely held generalizations about the group to the individual. The halo effect occurs when the perceiver develops an overall impression of a person or situation based on one characteristic, either favorable or unfavorable. Projection is the tendency of perceivers to see their own personal traits in other people; that is, they project their own needs, feelings, values, and attitudes into their judgment of others. Perceptual defense is the tendency of perceivers to protect themselves against ideas, objects, or people that are threatening. Leaders must be able to explain attributions and recognize how perception affects the leader – follower relationship. The whole brain concept is an approach that considers not only a person’s preference for right-brained versus left-brained thinking, but also conceptual versus experiential thinking, and identifies four quadrants of the brain related to different thinking styles. Understanding that individuals have different thinking styles can help leaders be more effective in interacting with followers. Some leaders act as if everyone responds to the same material and behavior in the same way, but this isn’t true. Leaders can shift their styles and behaviors to more effectively communicate with followers and help them perform up to their full potential. The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire with the purpose of indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions. In addition, being aware of their own MBTI type enables leaders to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Leaders should remember that each type can have positive and negative consequences for behavior.
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