Self-awareness is like a north star. When you have a strong self-awareness you have a guiding light, a clear ethos and direction for yourself. It acts as your unwavering compass in the intricate landscape of leadership, shedding light on your unique strengths, revealing your areas for growth and defining your distinct leadership styles. 

Yet, this self-awareness – or the journey to increased or improved self-awareness – can pose a challenge. 

The Journey of Self-Discovery

The journey to self-discovery is the quest to know yourself deeply, to understand your strengths, identify your weaknesses and define your unique leadership style. Self-discovery can be challenging: lack of feedback, being super busy and no time to reflect, not being sure where to start.

Self-discovery is like holding up a mirror and being confronted with those parts of you that might normally lurk in the shadows. And by shadow, I mean the stressful times. It’s about being confronted with your blindspots, and we all have blindspots! Conversely, it is also being able to humbly and proudly accept all the best bits: your strengths and authentic awesomeness.

Amidst today’s constant challenges lies a realm of opportunities—an opportunity to thrive as a middle manager, to lead with authenticity and to maximise your potential. Here are three powerful avenues through which you can embark on your continued journey of self-awareness:

1: Self-Assessment and Feedback

To embark on this journey, self-assessment and feedback become your faithful companions. You must actively seek self-assessment tools and feedback from various sources within your professional ecosystem—peers, superiors and subordinates alike.

Alignment: Start by ensuring that your career goals align with your values. These values are the foundation upon which your legacy will be built. When your objectives resonate with what you hold dear, you’ll work with unwavering dedication.

Regular Evaluation: Regularly evaluate your performance and leadership qualities. This consistent introspection is a mirror that reflects your professional growth and areas needing improvement. When you are open to acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, you can grow more effectively.

360-Degree Feedback: 360-degree feedback, where you receive input from colleagues at all levels, provides a comprehensive view of your leadership style. It unveils facets of your professional persona that you might not have been aware of.

Self-Discovery: Self-assessment tools, like personality assessments, can be illuminating. They provide insights into your natural inclinations, which can serve as a foundation for understanding your leadership style.

2: Leadership Development Programs

Participating in leadership development programs and workshops can be transformative. These programs offer a structured pathway for improving self-awareness, fostering introspection, and enhancing leadership skills.

Structured Learning: Leadership development programs often include activities and exercises designed to promote self-discovery. They encourage you to delve deep into your leadership philosophy and approach, ultimately enabling you to lead more effectively.

Learning from Experts: These programs provide access to experienced leaders and trainers who can guide you on your self-awareness journey. They share insights and strategies for maximising your leadership potential.

Skill Enhancement: Leadership development programs equip you with the tools and knowledge necessary for effective leadership. Whether it’s communication skills, conflict resolution, or decision-making, these programs empower you to lead with confidence.

3: Peer Networking and Support

In the world of middle management, where the challenges are unique, connecting with peers facing similar struggles can be invaluable.

Professional Networks: Consider joining professional networks or peer groups where you can interact with colleagues navigating the same challenges. Sharing experiences, discussing common problems and learning from each other can provide fresh perspectives.

Shared Experiences: In these forums, you can openly discuss your leadership journey—your successes, setbacks and moments of self-discovery. Listening to others’ stories can help you gain clarity about your own strengths and weaknesses.

Mutual Support: Peer networking offers a support system. You are not alone in your quest for self-awareness. Your peers can provide guidance, encouragement and a sense of camaraderie on this journey.

Self-Coaching Questions for Navigating Self-Awareness:

1. Reflection Question: What are my core strengths as a middle manager and how have they contributed to my professional journey? Conversely, what areas do I perceive as my weaknesses, and how can I address them?

2. Feedback Question: How can I actively seek feedback from colleagues at all levels within my professional ecosystem? What steps can I take to create an open and honest feedback culture?

3. Learning Question: What leadership development programs or workshops can I explore to enhance my self-awareness and leadership skills? How can I incorporate structured learning into my professional journey?

4. Networking Question: Are there professional networks or peer groups within my industry that I can join to connect with fellow middle managers? How can I actively engage in peer networking to gain new perspectives?

The path to self-awareness is not a solitary one; it’s a collective journey. It’s a journey of constant self-discovery and growth, guided by the light of your strengths and the recognition of your areas for improvement. As you navigate this path, remember that self-awareness is not a destination; it’s a lifelong journey—a journey that defines not only your leadership but also your legacy.

Here’s to you thriving as a middle manager who knows yourself deeply, leads with authenticity and inspires those around you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Share your insights with me and let’s continue to learn and grow together.