Self-reflection a critical tool to becoming an effective leader by Eunice Musiime

Yoga poseAt a recent Feminist and Transformational Leadership training, organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) and Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), one of the skills that the facilitators sought to hone, in the over 20 young women that participated, was the value of self-reflection as a critical tool to becoming an effective leader.

While at the work place we periodically reflect on our activities, milestones, at personal level, I have never really developed a systematic way to self reflect on my own accomplishments, failures, hopes and dreams. For instance i have a number of friends who journal as part of their daily de-brief.

However at the beginning of 2017, amidst all the furor of the New Year celebrations, I made a decision to become more intentional about this practice. This was partly informed by the fact that I shall be turning forty years and at the same time marking ten years of marriage. As I celebrate these two major milestones in my journey, I have dedicated lots of time to reflect on where I have been, where I am and where I want to be.But this has largely been an adhoc process.

Of course, self-reflection has never been an easy process, besides many of us aren’t inclined to spend much time on self-reflection. It can easily degenerate into self-pity, self-condemnation, self-denial and many other things. Even when personal feedback is presented to us, we are not always open to it, because feedback isn’t always flattering.

Consequently many of us have pretty low levels self-awareness leading to either having oversized egos or low self-esteem.  I know that if i am to grow in my leadership journey, self-awareness is an essential step because it can help improve my own judgment and help me identify opportunities for professional development and personal growth.

Self-awareness is knowing your personal characteristics and how your actions affect other people. It therefore imperative that we become more self-aware, of ourselves in many areas such as our personality traits, personal values, habits, emotions, and the psychological needs that drive our behaviors.

Understanding your own feelings, what causes them, and how they impact your thoughts and actions is emotional self-awareness.  If you were once excited about your job but not excited now, can you get excited again?  To answer that question, it helps to understand the internal processes associated with getting excited.  That sounds simpler than it is.

When we understand “what make us tick”–what gets us excited, why we behave the way we do, etc.–we also have insight into what makes others tick.  To the extent that other people are like you (and, of course, there are limits to the similarity), knowing how to motivate yourself is tantamount to knowing how to motivate others.

I have recently embarked on a coaching journey and the first thing that my coach requested me to do was to carry out a personality test as part of a process to sharpen my leadership skills. It was interesting to receive the results and confirm some aspects about myself that I have always known but sort of never really articulated. While we don’t normally change our personalities and values based on what we learn about ourselves. But our understanding of our personalities can help us find the areas in which we thrive and avoid the situations in which we will experience too much stress.

I am excited to have a personal development coach who is supporting me on this journey of self reflection and i look forward to becoming the better version of me in the next few months. I know it will not be easy, but watch this space for a new me. Uuuhuuuu!



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