The Essential Quality All Leaders Must Possess

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The Essential Quality All Leaders Must Possess

“Great leaders are self-aware and they have a strong blend of confidence and humility.”

In season 25 episode 7 we are joined by Matt Higgins. You can learn more about him here.

Matt is a noted serial entrepreneur and growth equity investor as cofounder and CEO of private investment firm RSE Ventures. He is also vice-chairman of the Miami Dolphins, a recurring Shark on ABC’s four-time Emmy-Award-winning TV show Shark Tank, and Executive Fellow at the Harvard Business School.

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The Essential Leadership Quality

There are many things a company or business can overcome but poor leadership isn’t one of them. As Matt Higgins said on the Follow My Lead Podcast, “a fish always stinks at the head.”

It turns out there is one quality that stands above the rest that Matt and other investors look for in a leader, self-awareness.

Not being self-aware as a leader will cause you to fail.

There are a couple of things Higgins looks for in leaders to determine if they are self-aware or not. “I look for blend of confidence and humility in leaders.  You have to have the confidence to be able to ask yourself if you are going in the right direction and you have to have the humility to go ahead and acknowledge it publicly.”

Don’t assume you can’t have more confidence and humility

Too often, leaders believe their strengths and weaknesses from a leadership perspective are personality traits that are set in stone. A great example of this came from Mel Robbins on Tom Bilyeu’s show Impact Theory, “I used to think confidence was a personality trait. The truth is confidence isn’t a personality trait at all.”

Robbins is right about confidence and the same could be said for humility. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. You can grow and get better in each of these. If your mindset doesn’t reflect this belief, the chances of you ever reaching your full potential from a leadership perspective is slim to none.

The good news is once you get your mindset to one of growth, you will look at every event as an opportunity to learn and get better.

How to grow your self-awareness

Our research of more than 40,000 leaders and thousands of BTB Leader Assessments has shown the number one thing leaders do poorly is asking their people for feedback about how they are doing. Too many leaders assume they are doing a good job. People want to feel like they are being heard and asking for feedback is not only a great way to do this, but it also helps the leader improve their self-awareness.

Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google and current CEO of Humu, has often been cited for helping his former company’s simple yet unique method of conducting peer reviews. Rather than just management providing feedback for lower-level employees, Google’s management also gets feedback from junior employees on things they “should do more of and one thing they could do differently.”

If this tactic works for one of the most successful companies in the world, it should work for you, too. Soliciting feedback from your employees is a way to build trust and improve your leadership skills. Consider sending emails to your team once per quarter asking what you’re doing well and how you can improve to better help them meet their potential.


The best part about Matt Higgins advice is anyone can become more self-aware if they want to. Regardless if you are a self-aware leader today or not, you can begin to be today.

Increase Your Leadership Self-Awareness – Become fully aware of how you’re currently leading your team. The BTB Leader Report will reveal your current leadership style. Each report comes with a self-assessment and a direct report assessment that are combined into your BTB Leader Report.  The report shows you how you’re perceived by individual (while keeping their anonymity), your team as a whole, and how you perceive your own leadership skills, Get it Now.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.