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power of leadership self-awarenessA recruiter friend shared an instructive story about the power of self-awareness and how it plays into our leadership abilities. 

A candidate called the recruiter and asked to change the location of their interview. She wanted to meet downtown at the library. She said she had a business meeting earlier in the morning and that this location would be more convenient since it was only a few blocks away.

The recruiter agreed to the new location. She adjusted her schedule because the new location meant she had to add an hour to her commute time.

It’s the day of the interview.

The interview is scheduled for 11 AM, so the recruiter arrives at 10:45 AM.  11 AM comes and goes. Soon it’s 11:20 AM. No outreach from the candidate.

The recruiter calls the candidate twice and gets voicemail both times. She leaves voicemails and also sends a text but receives no response. The clock continues ticking. 11:25, 11:35 AM.  Still no show, no call, no text.

The recruiter doesn’t know whether to be worried or annoyed. Has there been an accident? A mix-up in time? A change of heart about the job?   

At now 11:45 AM, 45-minutes after the agreed-upon start time. The recruiter prepares to leave. Just then, the candidate arrives with a Starbucks cup in hand.

“Sorry I’m late. The traffic was worse than I expected, so I decided to get some coffee to carry me through the interview. At Starbucks, I bumped into someone I used to work with and time just got away from me,” breezily declared the candidate.

There is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. ~Anthony K. Tjan 


Sheesh, thinks the recruiter, neither a “hello” nor a smile accompany the explanation.

“Good morning, Leslie. Didn’t you have a meeting a few blocks away from here? Did you get my voicemails? I wasn’t sure if we’d had a mix-up or if something was wrong.”

“Oh, gosh, that’s right. I’d forgotten about that. That meeting was cancelled a couple days ago. I figured I could get downtown in 20 minutes but that didn’t work out because of traffic, you know how that is.”

As my recruiter friend said, she sure did know how it was. The candidate had all the technical skills in the world but was sadly lacking in interpersonal abilities. The candidate failed to show awareness of her actions on others. Plus she failed to show respect or an appreciation of others’ time. Pretty important attributes important in today’s relationship-centric times.

Guess who wasn’t offered the job?

And was super-surprised by that?

Sometimes we forget that we’re sending clues all the time about our leadership, our character, our level of concern for others, etc.

Self-awareness is a critical leadership skill. How’s yours?

Self-awareness is not a destination point, but rather an emerging process where one continually comes to understand his or her unique talents, strengths, sense of purpose, core values, beliefs and desires. ~Bruce Avolio and William Gardner


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