4 Strategies to Increase Your Self-Knowledge

As this school year starts, perhaps you are thinking about how to lead a team differently than you have before. Perhaps in a way that is more energizing, with distributed leadership, with more joy and focus and commitment from everyone. Maybe you are forming a vision from your hopes and the needs of the community you serve. And maybe you are wondering how to enact this vision. Here’s my invitation:

Start with yourself. 

In last week’s Monday newsletter, I reminded you that leadership and coaching must emerge from deep self-knowledge and an ongoing commitment to self-awareness. There is no way around this truth. (This is why Chapter 2 of The Art of Coaching Teams is “Knowing Ourselves as Leaders.”)

Here are a few things you can do to increase your self-knowledge:

  1. Draw the highs and lows of your leadership journey (simple stick figures and symbols are great). Depict 7-10 moments of this journey and add short captions if you want. After completing it, reflect on new insights about yourself as a leader from doing this process. 
  2. Dig into one of the lows of your leadership journey. Write about it, talk about it (if you have a trusted coach, therapist, or good friend), and dig deeper than you’ve gone before. Ask yourself: How did I contribute to that low? What can I take responsibility for doing or not doing? What’s the story I’ve told myself about this time–that I was a victim? What’s the story I want to tell about that time? What did I learn from that low? 
  3. Write a letter to yourself during that low period of your leadership journey. What advice would you give yourself? What questions would you ask yourself? 
  4. Write down all the things you appreciate about yourself as a leader. Write down the appreciation and praise you want to hear from your team. Get super detailed and specific. Then reflect on insights that this process has given you about yourself. 

As you facilitate or lead team meetings this week, see if you can make any connections between how you show up and your reflections on the prompts I just offered you. If you don’t have The Onward Workbook and The Art of Coaching Workbook check them out! Each book contains dozens of exercises to help you know yourself.