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CEO Disease: If you were suffering from it, how would you know?

It’s well-known that people who have the lowest levels of self-awareness are the least likely to have any idea that they lack it. That makes perfect sense. If you were born color blind, how would you even know about colors you aren’t seeing unless someone tells you about them?

So, it’s not very likely that you will wake up one morning with a sudden consciousness that you are lacking awareness in some critical area of your leadership. I know this has never happened to me anyway. The times that I have become aware that I am coming across as rather clueless it has always been because someone with my best interests at heart was kind enough (or sometimes someone meaning to hurt me was mean enough) to let me know. Regardless of their intentions behind sharing the information, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s always eye-opening if one is willing to hear it non-defensively, reflect and look for nuggets of accuracy.

But the truth is that the higher up in an organization you go, the less often you will be confronted with these gifts of insight from others. That's why its called "CEO Disease". Depending on how you run your team, especially if you are feared or if you use intimidation to gain compliance, that may never happen. So why wait around for someone in your organization to muster up the courage to tell you what they see?

If you are wondering if self-awareness might be something you should be looking at, ask yourself what you hear from those around you. If everything you hear is compliments and agreement, or worse, nothing at all, that could be a clue. However, realize that if this sounds like you, you may not be able to simply go ask people about how you are coming across yet. Your colleagues and employees may not feel it’s safe to share with you.

You can start with a 360 assessment and an executive coach to help you interpret and respond to the results. Once you’ve determined what you want to work on, share with your team that you are working on increasing your self-awareness, that you see that you are less-than-perfect in some areas, what you have committed to change, and how you are going to go about it. If you commit and stick with it, your employees will notice the change, and you will be on the way to creating an environment where those around you want to see you succeed and are willing to offer their observations and support to help you do it, and improve the culture and the company.

With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for global Leadership and Development initiatives with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives.

As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with entrepreneurs, senior leaders and their teams to uncover their real desires for their organization, and then to align those desires with their values to co-create a strategy for execution and accountability. The leaders Trish partners with are truly working their own best plan for success in achieving their desired “new state” and weathering the changes that success brings.

To learn more about how Trish can help you and your team with one-on-one coaching, team coaching or speaking at your event, please contact

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