Berger Leadership Blog

5 ways self-awareness gives you a competitive edge

Dan BergerTo be a better leader, you must first understand yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, what drives you and what keeps you grounded. We can't get to the next level and be fully successful without this sense of self-awareness.

Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, writes that "the 'sustainable competitive advantage' in business is self-awareness," which is taken from the book The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky. "We both have found that the 'messy middle,' with its ups and downs, is the hardest and most crucial part of any bold venture, and that's where you need to come to grips with your true self," he adds.

Zwilling offers some key points for leaders who want to benchmark their own sense of self. The list includes:

  1. At a peak or valley, you are not your greatest self. Meaning, if things are going well, your ego can take over; if times are tough, insecurities take center stage. He encourages use of mentors, advisers or boards during these times.
  2. Understand your feelings to recognize what bothers you. Knowing what triggers frustrations will help you properly deal with these issues as they arise.
  3. The less defensive you are, the more potential you have. It is important to be open-minded – even when you don't like the feedback you're hearing.
  4. Understand the sources of your own negative tendencies. Whether you accomplish this through a coach, a personality training like Meyers Briggs or another way, knowing where your negative tendencies come from can help you deal with others' behavior.
  5. Dispel your sense of superiority. Be humble and give others the credit they deserve.

If you can recognize and apply these five benchmarks, you will have a competitive edge. "Ultimately, self-awareness is about being the best competitor and the best leader that you can be, always making sound judgments, and effectively engaging with your team, partners, and customers," Zwilling writes.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and has helped expand the association's reputation into becoming a premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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