Why Self-Awareness Is Key When You’re Considering a CEO Role

Mar. 29, 2016

DRG staff


Every professional wants to make advancements in his or her career. For some nonprofit executives, becoming the CEO or executive director of an organization is the emblem of success, but is the CEO role at the top of your ladder of success? Are you ready to take on all the responsibilities that come with the title?

Not being a CEO doesn’t mean that you’re not a spectacular leader with something to contribute to the nonprofit sector or organization, and saying “no” to the top job doesn’t mean that you aren’t reaching your greatest potential as a nonprofit professional.Bestselling leadership author Bill George reminds us that being authentic and exercising self-awareness are the foundation for success in his recent article for the Huffington Post. According to George, “Leaders must undertake rigorous personal development and have multiple leadership experiences before they are prepared for major leadership assignments. Through these processes, they learn about themselves and how to lead diverse people through complex challenges.”

Are you at that point in your career?

Asking yourself the tough questions that are so easily evaded when you’re considering top-level, high-paying positions is important for your success and future. In order to determine if the opportunity is right for you, you’ll need to assess how the top position intersects with your personal life, goals, professional experiences and training.

In his popular 1998 article in the Harvard Business Review, “What Makes a Leader?,” Dr. Daniel Goleman, an internationally-recognized psychologist and author, remarked: “Someone who is highly self-aware knows where he is headed and why; so, for example, he will be able to be firm in turning down a job offer that is tempting financially but does not fit with his principles or long-term goals. A person who lacks self-awareness is apt to make decisions that bring on inner turmoil by treading on buried values.”

Through self-assessments, some nonprofit professionals may find that their talent and ambitions are in another area in nonprofit, such as the director of development or chief operating officer roles. Even if the CEO or executive director position is a natural transition in your career, it’s still necessary to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as well as your motivation for wanting to lead an organization.

Success isn’t determined solely by big job titles. To achieve personal and professional fulfillment, make sure that the role you choose to pursue will allow you to grow and become the best version of your professional self.