How To Master the Art of Self-Discovery as a Leader


By Siobhan Clarke


I’ve been exploring self-discovery and the relationship between who we are and what we bring as individuals to a business, especially any business in a time of rapid change, including start ups, mature businesses that are experiencing a sudden shift in direction, companies with a new leader.   All have fingerprints that are trickling their way into the organisations that individuals are part of.  

I’ve also been working with a number of clients, where we’ve taken time to go beyond the standard operational, sales, business development plan and understand what am I as an individual bringing as a Founder, as a Leader to the business?

During that exploration, I came across this article in HR magazine which sets out and emphasises the evolving nature of effective leadership in the modern business landscape. Traditional top-down management styles are giving way to a need for authentic and empathetic leadership. Self-awareness, particularly emotional intelligence (EQ), is highlighted as a crucial component for effective leadership. However, achieving true self-awareness is challenging, and external perspectives, such as feedback from colleagues and mentors, are essential.

The drawbacks of knowledge, experience, and power hindering self-awareness are discussed. Overconfidence, a win-or-lose mindset, and a lack of receptiveness to feedback can limit effective leadership. Interpersonal skills, such as effective communication and active listening, are emphasised as crucial soft skills for leaders. The text encourages continual growth and reinvention, emphasising that self-awareness enables leaders to adapt to new challenges and inspire those around them.

Practical leadership tips are provided, including the importance of debunking one’s own reality, practising curiosity, adopting a three-stage mindset (considering present, medium, and long-term implications), embracing storytelling, and leaning into vulnerability. These tips aim to guide leaders in fostering self-awareness, continuous learning, and authentic connection with their teams.

Taking a step back from the article, I wonder how many leaders read this and mellow on it?  How many take this and go beyond an action list of what to do next and reflect fully, truly on what they’re bringing to the organisation, to the business? I wonder how many leaders, founders go beyond themselves to consider those around them – becoming ever more self aware of the chemistry that is happening around them.

 In The Founder Handbook, we explore and outline an approach that builds on design thinking to enable you to identify the ideal customer persona.  The customer persona, is indeed that – a person – someone with fingerprints that trickle inside the organisation where their values can often be seen in the way they approach products, the way they react positively, negatively, neutrally to your value proposition?  What mindset are they embracing?  What self awareness and growth are they enabling? What balance of external to internal challenge do they embrace?  What authentic connection are they looking to create with what you, your company is bringing from a value proposition? 

Self discovery is not just about self, it’s about an interaction within the ecosystem.  What system dynamics are happening in your chosen customer base?  How are those showing up?  What level of awareness are you reaching to go beyond clever and craft joint value?

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