Although not much talked about, Self-cognizance is possibly one of the most obvious traits of effective leaders.
Contemporary wisdom says: Play to your strengths rather than investing time in improving your weaknesses.
To leverage that, it’s necessary to be consciously aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
That’s what Self-cognizance is all about.
Regardless of how skilled you are as a leader, you should recognize that you don’t have answers to anything and everything. Nobody has.
Consider you’re a speaker and you know most things about your subject. Now, what would you do if someone asks you a question which belongs to your subject but you don’t have a clear answer of the same?
You seem like caught in an awkward situation, isn’t it?
If you’re not self-cognizant, you would not be able to even accept that you don’t have all the answers. So you would try to give an answer anyway. You bet that most likely, that would fall in the category of less than accurate answers.
Don’t get surprised if most – if not all – of your audience would recognize your bluff.
But if you know thyself better, then you’ve won the half battle. You’ve recognized that you don’t have the answer to all the questions and this is going to be difficult. Better be ready, to tell the truth.
You would say: It’s a good question, indeed. I think I need to go back to school and study for a day to answer it. Please drop your card to my assistant. I’ll give you a call tomorrow.
Gosh…! You’ve got an interesting point here. Does anybody from the audience would like to answer? Meanwhile, I’ll go for a short break and have some coffee.
Though in a light mood, you conveyed what you don’t know (the truth) but the situation is anyways in your control.
When you pretend and then pretend that you don’t, you invite negative consequences to your way.
But if you’re self-cognizant, you’d openly admit what you know and what you don’t. Also, you’d be able to demonstrate that the experience itself is an opportunity of learning something you don’t know.
Consider what Abraham Maslow, the famous American psychologist observed:
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”
… or herself. (This post is not meant for just men. It applies equally to women leaders as well :))
That makes an effective leader. Choose to be one. Know thyself better!