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The ability to understand and improve yourself is a critical leadership trait. And let’s face it: the ability to analyse and adapt, through awareness, has never been as important as it is now, in our current post-pandemic work environment. Founding partner of the award-winning full-service communications agency, Eclipse Communications, Jacki McEwen-Powell shares the lessons she’s learnt that have made her a much better leader.
First off, it’s important to surround myself with people who are better than you in every field, explains Jacki. “There’s only so much you can do alone, but if you work with people who are better and brighter, together you can create something that you’re not capable of coming up with by yourself,” she says.
While self-examination and awareness can be uncomfortable (nobody really wants to acknowledge their faults, right?), it’s imperative to know where your natural predispositions lie in order to boost those predispositions and compensate for your weaknesses. So, let’s begin! Here’s how to increase your self-mastery through awareness:
1/ Identify your self-perceived strengths and weaknesses
“I’ve found that to truly identify your weaknesses, you need to understand your strengths,” says Jacki. “What are the disadvantages to your most positive qualities as a leader? What negative sides could they have?”
2/ Identify external factors that cause you to react
“Identify those situations – both negative and positive – that evoke a response from you. Try to understand your motivations and triggers.”
3/ Analyse other leaders
“This is a great way to learn from those you admire and get a sense of what qualities you share – and those you don’t,” says Jacki.
4/ Request trusted feedback from mentors, peers and previous staff
Sounds scary, right? But it’s a critical step. “This is one of the surest ways to gain insight into yourself without personal bias,” says Jacki.
5/ Contemplate how to utilise your strengths and weaknesses
“The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you great and be more of it, and to identify where you are weak, and surround yourself with people who can prop you up in these areas.”
6/ Stay curious – never stop seeking to understand yourself
“Behind (and in front) of each great leader are many learning moments, and improving self-awareness is just one that can lead to greater success,” says Jacki.
Jacki McEwen is the Founding Partner of Eclipse Communications and an industry veteran, publicist and communications strategist. Jacki’s insatiable interest in public relations was ignited in her youth when she began assisting at a Cape Town-based PR agency where her mother was employed. At the age of 26, she launched Meier & McEwen, which later became Eclipse Communications.