Why self-awareness is critical for career decisions
If moving your career ahead is on your radar in the new year, we have a great suggestion on how you can do it. The best leadership development tool out there is living and working abroad. As with any life changing event, a strong sense of self-awareness will help you make solid decisions. Self-awareness will not only help you decide whether to propel your career through international work, but also how to succeed once you are there.
Self-Awareness to Make Career Decisions
Based on our research of 62 Women in Senior Level Expatriate Roles (WiSER) across the globe, we discovered four competencies that are more prevalent among female expatriates. The strongest competency among the four is self-awareness. In fact, an overwhelming 82 percent of the WiSER demonstrated self-awareness. The majority of WiSER who demonstrated a high degree of self-awareness were better able to steer their careers.
WiSER Argentina was young, a single mother of two, and in the middle of completing her degree when she decided to accept a position in Burundi. Why? Because she was well aware that she enjoyed adventure, challenge, and found learning new things interesting. Her colleagues at the time commented: “Are you crazy? Those people kill each other. They have ongoing wars between the Hutus and the Tutsis.” She took the risk, finished her degree while there, and the risk paid off in accelerating her career.
Self-awareness to Make Effective Decisions in an International Environment
Self-awareness is important, from the smallest decisions to the ones that really matter. The complexities involved with international work demand an even greater sense of self-awareness. As an international leader, self-awareness is paramount because
- self-awareness will help you decide how to adapt or not to adapt in your new environment.
- self-awareness will help you manage other’s perception of you. Because of the cultural differences this will be different from how you are typically perceived in a domestic setting.
As Lao-Tzu wisely said: “It is wisdom to know others, it is enlightenment to know one’s self”. Being self-aware involves knowing your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes and using that knowledge to make critical decisions. Prior to accepting an international assignment, knowing yourself will help you making the right decision. For the duration of an expatriate assignment, self-awareness will be your compass as you consider how to adapt. Developing and reinforcing self-awareness in your professional life will give you an edge to success.