Leadership implies that you know yourself.

Leadership is personal and contextual. Leadership is a personal choice in a certain situation to take up an uneasy challenge. This explains why ‘awareness’ is at the heart of leadership. Awareness of the reality, also the reality of own’s own self. Self awareness is the basis of self-regulation. And self-regulation is essential to stay flexible in different circumstances.

Goffee and Jones call it “Know and show yourself – enough.”[i] Toon Bossuyt puts ‘courage’ central in his leadership thinking. And Dr. Jacques Rogge said during his leadership lecture at Antwerp Management School: “Self knowledge is probably the most difficult trait to have.” Also for Chris Lowney “self-awareness is the foundation of leadership”.[ii] The personal dimension of leadership explains why leadership development comes close to identity or personal development.

Awareness has different levels. Kegan & Lagey [iii]  distinguish three levels of adult development. Each level has a different way of dealing with complexity. The ‘socialized mind’ is a team player: faithful, aligned, shapeable, true believer. Not all people reach this level. The second level is ‘self-authoring’: can take charge, own compass, sets direction, solves problems, independent, command and control. The third level is self-transforming: multiframe, holds contradictions, dialectical, leads to learn. We can easily link these levels of maturity to higher and lower levels of leadership.

Any comment?

 GOFFEE, R. & JONES G. (2006). Why should anyone be led by you? Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 244 p.
[ii]LOWNEY, C. (2003). Heroic leadership. Best practices from a 450-year-old company that changed the world. Chicago: Loyola Press, 330 p.
[iii] KEGAN, R., and LAHEY L. (2010). Adult development and organizational leadership. In NOHRIA, N., & KHURANA, R. (eds.), Handbook of leadership theory and practice. A Harvard Business School centennial colloquium. Harvard Business Press, p. 769-787.


About Koen Marichal

Director Future Leadership Initiative at Antwerp Management School
This entry was posted in 5. Awareness & empowerment, Academic insights & evidence, English and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Leadership implies that you know yourself.

  1. So true. Can you also tell me how you can manage managers to take the time and the courage do to something about this and to start with such a kind of self-reflection?

    Kind regards and all the best for 2012,


  2. Marc de Vré says:

    Reblogged this on Green Hill Coaching and commented:
    Leadership is to become a human first

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s