Why Self-Awareness Plays an Important Role in Leadership

Temet Nosce is Latin for “Know Thyself.” Developing self-awareness and curiosity are critical factors to building passion and motivation, delivering leadership and career success. The key to finding a purpose and fulfillment in life begins with knowing and understanding yourself. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you find your passion as a leader and realize your full career potential. Recently, I was delighted to conduct a podcast interview with Don Antonucci, CEO of Providence Health Plan. Don Antonucci has spent more than 25 years in healthcare and related fields, exploring his passion for leadership and focusing his efforts on promoting health, equity, and a shared vision for a better world. How can you improve your self-knowledge? There are many tools available to aid your journey towards self-awareness. In particular, Don’s experience with the Enneagram model provided him with valuable insights about himself and others. Increasing his self-knowledge, understanding his sources of joy, and identifying his strengths allowed him to clear personal blockers effectively and be a better leader. Don says: I believe you’ve got to round yourself out, challenge yourself. If you can identify your weaknesses and can turn them into strengths, or develop your strengths even further once you understand them fully, then you can figure out what works for you in any given situation.” “If you’re not self-aware, you don’t know what your limiting beliefs are or your perception about things.” I agree with Don because self-awareness is by far one of the most important factors for becoming a great leader. In my experience, many people underestimate the value that this in-depth understanding can bring  – not only to their careers but also to their entire personal life. Don’s curiosity and dedication to discovery and learning powered his professional journey through his varied roles. I believe that curiosity, with passion and purpose, are some of the major intrinsic elements of motivation. Don also found this to be true, as his wide-ranging studies and readings allowed him to quickly learn how to build his understanding and create his own advantages. Don shared his learning that one of the essential aspects of CEO roles is not to get caught up in a bubble where you’re not connected or there’s a lack of trust among the talent on your team. Playing off the idea that operating in a CEO bubble can be very isolating, I asked Don for his views about loneliness and its consequences, especially in this new COVID-19 arena. He confirmed the expanded challenges today, especially in healthcare, and he re-emphasized the importance of resilience and mental health across the globe. It’s critical for leaders today to be authentic, caring, and transparent with their organizations and to reinforce the importance of self-care for employees at every level through clear and comprehensive communication. A focus on mental health can preserve the well-being of the employees and help maintain the integrity of the organization. We all know what’s going on in the world right with the impact of mental health for employees, not only on performance but also in terms of diseases and issues. So it’s honestly good to hear a CEO putting mental health resilience on top of the agenda. I think this is what employees are looking for in their leadership; a level of openness and vulnerability because this will help them in their understanding and communication. We closed out the podcast by discussing the importance of preparation as one key to success. One of my favorite quotes recently came from Novak Djokovic, the tennis player. He said, “Discipline is the bridge between your goals and your achievements.” Finally, I asked Don to share his wisdom with the following questions: What is the number one lesson you’ve learned in your career? “The importance of self-awareness. I think back to the enneagram and other tools; if you’re not self-aware, it’s going to be really tough for you to grow professionally.  What were the conditions in place at the time that allowed you to perform your best? “When you’ve got a team that you’re working with closely, that has trust. Also, where there’s substantial preparation and understanding of what you’re going to do, followed by decisive action.” What is one thing you probably would have done differently in your career? “I think it’s patience. You can do things in the short term, but it’s a long game. I’m 50 years old, and I still feel like I’ve got value to contribute.” Who is your favourite business leader? “I love Gary Vaynerchuk. I’ve really learned some things from him that have been very valuable: concepts of leadership and how he thinks about things.” What is your favourite business book? “That changes over time, but one I read recently, would be ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek. It really crystallized some things for me.”  If you’re interested in hearing more, please listen to the entire podcast episode, at: https://www.andreapetrone.com/005-why-developing-self-awareness-leads-to-great-leadership-with-don-antonucci/ You can find Don Antonucci via LinkedIn, at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dantonucci/ Or at his organization Providence Health Plan, at: https://www.providencehealthplan.com/
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