The longer I'm in leadership, the more I realize I don't always fully know the real health of my team or organization at any given time—at least as much as others do.
Don't misunderstand—I want to know, but often, because of my position, I'm shielded from some issues.
I've learned, right or wrong, agree or disagree, that some would rather complain behind a leader's back than tell them how they really feel. Others assume the leader already knows the problem. Still others simply leave or remain quiet rather than complain—often in an attempt to avoid confrontation.
I've made the mistake of believing everything was great in an area of ministry or with a team member, when really it was mediocre at best, simply because I was not aware of the real problems in the organization.
It can be equally true a leader doesn't know all the potential of an organization. Some of the best ideas remain untapped for some of the same reasons. People are afraid of their ideas being rejected, so they don't share them. They assume the leader has already thought of it or they simply never take the time to share with them.
If a leader wants to be fully "aware," there are disciplines they must have in place. For example, as a leader, do you want to easily recognize the need for change and the proper timing to introduce it? That comes partly by being a more aware leader.
5 Traits of the Aware Leader
Aware leaders are consistently asking people questions and making intentional efforts to uncover people's true feelings about the organization and their leadership. (Read a post of questions I wrote called 12 Great Leadership Questions here.)
Remains open to constructive criticism
Aware leaders make themselves vulnerable to other people. They welcome input, even when it comes as correction. They realize that although criticism never feels good at the time, if processed properly, it can make them a better leader. (You may want to read this post and this one about how to and not to respond to criticism.)
Never assumes everyone agrees
Aware leaders realize that disagreement and even healthy conflict can make the organization better. They expect differences of opinions on issues, and they are willing to wrestle through them to find the best solution to accomplish the vision of the organization, even if that opinion belongs to someone other than the leader.
Never quits learning
Aware leaders are sponges for information. They read books, blogs or they might listen to podcasts. They keep up with the current trends in their industry through periodicals and newsletters. They never cease to discover new ideas or ways of doing things.
Remains a wisdom-seeker
Aware leaders surround themselves with people further down the road from where they are in life. They most likely will use terms like mentor, coach or consultant. They are consistently seeking the input of other leaders who can speak into their situation, make them a better leader or person and ultimately help the organization.
Great leaders are aware leaders.
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
This article originally appeared at ronedmondson.com.
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