The Value of Situational Awareness
After graduating from high school, I moved to Colorado Springs to attend the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School and eventually the Air Force Academy. While I never graduated from the Academy (I came to faith and was called to ministry during my time there), the lessons that I learned from that experience have stuck with me to this day. The most significant lesson that I learned during that season was the importance of situational awareness for leaders.
Leaders, in order to lead their organization well, need to be incredibly aware of their surroundings and themselves. They need to understand the historical, cultural, and social context of the area in which they serve, and how it impacts the team that they lead. More importantly, they need to be aware of how their skills, personality, and quirks impact their organization. This self-knowledge can be hard to come across, especially for leaders who lack confidence in their leadership ability... but in order to truly lead effectively, this self knowledge is essential.
Harvard Business Review recently shared a short post that speaks to the impact this kind of self-awareness:
Bosses have a lot of influence on how employees spend their time. That’s why it’s so important for them to consider the ripple effects their input can have. Think of your comments, suggestions, and questions as pebbles you’re throwing into a stream: Each one can have an impact far larger than you may intend. So always recognize the weight your words carry, and speak with intention. During meetings with your team, try not to “think out loud,” and avoid lobbing ideas at everyone. Be sure you’re giving the team a clear, unified picture of projects and strategies; if you aren’t ready to do that in a certain situation, hold off on saying anything until you are. And don’t ask for updates unless you really need them. That kind of message appears urgent, even when it’s not. Always specify what information you need, why, and when, so you don’t create an unnecessary fire drill.
As a leader you don't ask innocent questions.
As a leader, your initial emotional response to a situation is going to impact how your team responds and what they do.
As a leader, you have the ability to inject anxiety into a system, or help create a sense of calm and safety.
Leading well requires us to develop our emotional intelligence enough to understand the ripples that we create when we have a conversation, ask a question, react emotionally, make a suggestion, or impose a deadline. It allows us to (or prevents us from) create a healthy team culture, one that draws talented people to your team and keeps them there for the long term. It can be the difference between being an irresistible leader and one who pushes people away.
A word of warning. Most who struggle with this lack the awareness to realize that they are lacking. Taking an assessment doesn't necessarily prove anything, if you are unable to see your own gaps. The most helpful, and painful, way to assess your self-awareness in this area is to sit down with someone who knows you well, whose judgement you trust, and lacks incentive to lie to you (family, co-workers, and those who don't want to upset you don't do a good job of this) and ask them to speak bluntly about what they see in your life. It may be an eye opening conversation.
One of our values at Chemistry Staffing is to help church leaders grow spiritually and as Kingdom leaders. We primarily do this through helping churches find great team members, but we also have a limited number of coaching opportunities available. If you are needing someone to think through staffing, staff culture, or even how to grow in your own self awareness, let's talk.