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    How self-awareness impacts leadership success

    Self-awareness is a key aspect of leadership success.

    A study was published in 2010 by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations2. The study examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion. The research studied a number of executive interpersonal traits. It was found that the element of self-awareness was a highly significant trait associated with leadership success. In fact, the higher level of self-awareness, the higher level of leadership success.

    What is self-awareness? Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection, the ability to know oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. While consciousness is a term given to being aware of one’s environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness. Introspection is the examination and reflection of one's own mental and emotional constructs.3

    The self-awareness theory was developed by Duval and Wicklund in their 1972 landmark book, A Theory of Objective Self Awareness.4 The authors establish “when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. This elicits a state of self-awareness. We become conscious of ourselves as objective evaluators of ourselves.” 

    Related reading: Are you a leader or a manager in your dental practice?

    Our company, the Mastery Company, delivers an online survey which assesses the strength and weaknesses of dentist-entrepreneurs to be successful at generating substantial managed group practices. Areas assessed in the Mastery survey are risk tolerance, power of vision, strength of core values, capacity to be responsible for the ‘whole,’ and self-awareness. Given our work is consulting and coaching dentist-entrepreneur’s to build and expand managed group practices, we wanted to know ‘going in’ whether potential clients have the needed elements for success. What we found from our survey fully validates the results by the Green Peak Partnership study. The more self-aware a leader is, the better leadership provided.

    Individually, my background of experience and learning in the domain of self-awareness includes the est training, the Landmark Forum, Pathwork’s workshops, Wings Seminars programs, Neurolinguistic Programing (NLP), Edwin Friedman and Daniel Goleman’s work on self-actualization and self-differentiation, therapy with a Jungian psychiatrist on Individuation, Buddhist Mediations, and meditative Programs at Nuropa University, as well as numerous books, articles and online videos. This has given me both a keen sense of my own self-awareness but also allowed me to develop consulting models and methods to apply to my dentist-clients to raise their self-awareness. The confirmed outcomes of these consultative models and methods enables our dentist-clients to better understand themselves at a very deep level, empowering them to be far abler as leaders.

    Related reading: The biggest mistakes dentists make: Neglecting leadership training

    However, most frequently, when I initially interact with the dentists, and this includes solo practices, small partnered practices, small group practices as well as very large group practices, what I find is a lack of interest in becoming self-aware. There is little if any commitment to understanding themselves. Little or no intention for self-discovery. No consistent practice or discipline of self-examination. No desire for introspection. Self-awareness simply doesn’t show up on their ‘radar’ as something that is fundamental and critical for their business success or personal lives.

    Yet the most highly regarded business authorities, Jim Collins, Jerry Porras, Peter Drucker, Ken Blanchard, Patrick Lencioni for example, all say that self-awareness is fundamental and critical for leadership success. They all conclude, the higher levels of self-awareness a leader attains, the greater levels of success and satisfaction they achieve. So I wondered, why was there such indifference by dentists to seek self-awareness? Why isn’t self-awareness in dentistry one of those marquee leadership qualities like vision, charisma or strategic intent, given its critical importance?

    Continue to page two to learn about dentists and self-awareness...


    Dr. Marc Cooper
    Dr. Cooper's professional career includes private periodontist, academician, researcher, teacher, practice management consultant, ...


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