When emotional intelligence is missing in a leader, everyone knows it. Ian Thorpe on KM on a dollar a day yesterday discussed the elements of this and the challenges in developing one's self-awareness in aid work, a subject near and dear to this blog as well.

He describes it as, "recognizing and understanding who you are and where you come from and how your origins and upbringing and experience impact how you are and how you see the world."

But being honest about one's blind spots and weaknesses is tough medicine to administer to oneself, especially considering the more power and access to resources a person has. That’s why it's so important that do-gooders consciously surround themselves with people who offer differing perspectives—people with different skills or more years under their belt, people who did not grow up as we did, where we did, looking like we did. Also if you’re a thinker, you’ve got doers around you for a reality check. And for doers, vice versa.

The Argyris Ladder of Influence Photo: http://bit.ly/Ti0cf

Critical friends are vital because they reflect to us our own values, assumptions, and biases. They open up our thinking, which can be stuck in reflexive loops (see picture). Karen Armstrong describes this as the “hard work of compassion,” constantly “dethroning” yourself to challenge your own worldview.

If you’re anything like me, I’ve come to realize that in my life and in my relationships, it’s often the conflicts, breakdowns, and mistakes that make each one of us more sure of who we are. These sometimes difficult times not only show us who we are, but remind us of our connections to each other, and of what’s most important. The support and challenge offered by our trusted advisors and friendly adversaries is what can help individuals, team, organizations, systems create and develop the self-knowledge we need to change the world.

So find a friend, and don't be afraid to dig a little deeper.

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This post originally appeared at: http://www.how-matters.org/2013/07/19/something-knowing-thyself-req...

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