What do you think of this statement?

Experience and power hinder self-awareness.

Mark, the Director of a company I once worked for shared with me that on his recent annual leave he underwent a leadership assessment and all the results came back that he was an exceptional leader. He continued on saying that, with all his years of experience in leadership roles, living in various countries, and working in a range of industries all led to this exceptional leadership score.

To say that Mark was feared by almost every staff member would be putting it kindly. In one of Mark’s branch offices the turnover was more than 20 people within a six month period. 

I would actively avoid Mark and thank my lucky stars – daily – that I didn’t work in the headoffice. 

In one study of 3,600+ leaders, higher-level leaders more significantly overvalued their skills. Furthermore the pattern of overvaluing showed up in 19 out of 20 competencies, including self-awareness, self-assessment, empathy and leadership performance.

Sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it.

By the very virture of the leaders role, their power, they find themselves with less people above them to give candid feedback. Not to mention, anyone at lower levels willing to give feedback.

So, how do we fix this…

  • Be humble. Actively seek feedback from your reports giving assurance that the purpose is for learning and insight, and it’s safe for them to speak candidly.
  • A 360-degree feedback assessment is also a valuable tool to counteract power getting in the way of valuable self-awareness.


It’s worth reminding ourselves, no matter whether we are in middle or senior management positions…

Given a little power over another, little natures swell to hideous proportions.

Amelia Earhart

American aviation pioneer and author.

[Image source: biography.com]

I’d love to know your thoughts on power and experience hindering self-awareness.