These days, I vacillate between labeling myself with one of these two appellations.
When I am being crotchety, things that others accept as a normal part of life are irritating the heck out of me. For instance, why do we live in a state of constant noise? I had dinner out with a friend the other day and was reduced to reading her lips since the noise levels drowned out conversation. And speaking of restaurants, why do servers ask if I’ve eaten at their establishment before? I see little that is unique about restaurant food or service these day. Why do I need to be an experienced diner to order a salad and iced tea?
Faced with these irritants, I write. As one colleague sagely told me: “You don’t write, you rant.” Does writing/ranting make me crotchety or observant? Perhaps a crotchety observer.
All this leads me to what I consider the most critical attribute for leader success: self-awareness. Self-awareness is knowing how our actions and behaviors are perceived by others. I may view myself as keenly observant but if others perceive me as a complaining crotchety person, my effectiveness at influencing others is greatly diminished.
SELF-AWARENESS: HOW DO OTHERS SEE YOU?
By Dr. Alice Waagen
Developing self-awareness is no easy task. It requires constant monitoring of how my words and actions affect others. I need to continuously listen, observe and ask. I need to reflect and debrief on my successes and on those times things did not work as planned.
The clearest indicator I know of low self-awareness is surprise. The outcomes that I anticipate do not occur. I communicate that something is critical, only to find that it is on the back-burner. I preach cost containment, only to see negative budget variances. I espouse work-life balance yet everyone who works for me is stressed out.
When faced with a series of “oh shucks” a leader need to call some trusted colleagues and ask: what am I doing or not doing that is causing my view of the world to get out of sync? Listen to what they have to say. Reflect. Determine what needs to change.
Here is the challenge to increasing self-awareness: as noted in my rant above, we seem to be in love with noise and speed these days. It is a real challenge to slow down and listen. It is easier to blame others for our failures than to quietly reflect on how we’ve contributed to the disaster.
So please, slow down, embrace quiet, and work on self-awareness. Somehow this is beginning to sound like a rant. Or maybe I’m just being crotchety.