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Optimum Talks Blog

Self-Awareness In CEOs Is More Important Than An MBA

by Lori Dyne

For decades, organizations have looked to hire CEOs with exceptional technical capability, an impressive MBA education, and a proven track record – that was the gold standard. But in recent years, several high-profile studies have evaluated the long-term effectiveness of CEOs with MBAs versus CEOs without, and the data is consistent – CEOs with MBA training do not out perform their counterparts. In fact, they often underperform because their approach to leadership can be too narrowly focused. As one article published by the Harvard Business Review put it, “if the linear MBA-trained logic becomes the sole focus – at the cost of other skills, like self-awareness and understanding others and the culture – the leadership approach is out of balance.”

So, what does all this mean? Well, for starters it means our grandmothers were right when they told us “everything in moderation.” But more importantly it validates that as leaders we have a responsibility to our organizations, to the people we lead, and to ourselves to understand who we are and how we lead, which is not the same thing as who we think we are and how we think we lead.

Developing true self-awareness involves moving past your ego and unconscious bias; and for many top executives it means working with an executive coach to facilitate greater awareness and challenge old patterns.

Whatever your journey to greater self-awareness looks like, the result can lead to:

  • Increased ability to listen and connect with the people you lead and the people you’re accountable to.
  • Increased ability to influence, align, motivate, and engage.
  • Navigating difficult conversations that result in progress.
  • Knowing when to utilize your strengths and when to delegate.
  • Decisions that are less clouded by bias, which can mitigate operational and brand risk.

Organizations exist to achieve an objective. That objective may be to manufacture and sell widgets, it may be to earn revenue by providing professional expertise, or it may be to create social change. Regardless of the objective, there is one definite commonality and that is that achieving your organizational goals is far more likely when the person at the helm understands how their peers, employees, and clients experience them.

If you’re interested in improving your organizational performance by understanding your leadership style, drop us a line at leadership@optimumtalent.com.