Self-awareness and leadership

In a move I might never have predicted (but one that is recognizable here from my frequent citations), about six months ago I got a subscription to the Harvard Business Review.  This move comes as an interesting one to me, someone with a background in politics and policy, because I have historically denied all interest in business-related matters.  About 4 years ago when I organized our first resident Leadership elective, I found that many of the best readings on key topics were from the HBR.  During my constant quest to become a better leader, I again frequently found myself turning to the HBR.  One of the key lessons during my reading there (and other places) has been that the most effective leaders are self-aware, and are honest in that self-awareness.  Of course, as surgeon leaders both recognizing and owning our “blind spots” may be more challenging than it is for the population at large, but it is no less important.

One of the things I have found the most challenging is clearly identifying my strengths.  Don’t worry, I am fully aware of my weaknesses, but for whatever reason I’ve found recognizing my strengths more challenging.  Myers-Briggs, which some say has equal validity to a Facebook quiz?  (INFP)  StrengthsFinder?  (In alphabetical order:  connectedness, input, intellection, learner, strategic)  PACE profile?  (Blue)  There’s a bit of truth in each of them.

I recently tripped across another self-assessment that I found particularly intriguing because it “felt” the most accurate of any that I’ve taken- and not just because I like that my archetype is the Rockstar.  This particular assessment examines how you communicate and describes your advantages to be the most effective communicator possible.  For the Rockstar archetype, my primary “advantage” is innovation and secondary is passion.  The top 5 adjectives for a Rockstar?  Bold, Artistic, Unorthodox, Revolutionary, Sensational.  While at first pass I would say these are pretty atypical descriptions for a surgeon, I realized that they fit me and how I do things best almost perfectly.  The best thing personally has been the reminder of my love for a good challenge; being cognizant of this is helping me re-focus on my Work.

I asked our leadership team in the Burn unit to take the assessment as well, and the results have been incredibly interesting.  Of the nine of us who took it, none are the same archetype.  All three of our surgeons have Innovation as one of their advantages (two of us primary, one as secondary).  More than half of us (5) have Passion as one of our advantages, which doesn’t surprise me in a very “connectional” group.  Fortunately, 4 of us have either Trust or Alert as an advantage (one has both!) so we can keep the unruly people like me reeled in.   I’m working on mapping us out, and I’m hopeful this will be helpful in how we all see and interact with one another.  I’m also quietly thinking of whom I need to engage more to make up for my own lack-of-alert.

If you’re interested in taking the How You Fascinate assessment, I do have codes that are good for a few more days (The 25th, I believe).  Just type in BL-amaliacochran as your code.  And, of course, if you are willing to share your results via Twitter or here, I would love to know what they are.

(Note:  I personally do not have any financial connection with this assessment- I simply found it interesting and accurate, and hope that you might gain some self-awareness through it.  I did!)