Gixer Stories

The Power of Awareness in Leadership

Gixer Stories

An opportunity knocked, and of course I said yes! CoStrategix offered to sponsor me in the first cohort of The Circuit’s IT Leadership Institute, where I meet monthly or more with rising leaders from other companies in the area. Together, our group has been delving into topics around the power of awareness in leadership – and putting them into practice both at work and within the community.


I graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, run multiple businesses, and completed many technology-focused certifications. Yet this is the first time I’m focusing my energy on what it means to be a leader.

Subconsciously, I felt leadership meant being strong, knowing how to navigate challenging situations, and driving outcomes – because you’d been there before or intuitively knew how to manage. The constant loop of delivering and solving problems had me so focused on the goal, that I didn’t realize that true potential is unlocked by broadening your focus to your surroundings.

What struck me most was the realization that my goal-oriented style had led me down a path of being very transactional. I held a mindset of “get it done, even if I have to do it myself.” This is not necessarily wrong, but it sometimes deflects plans well off trajectory or takes a physical or mental toll on me. I wasn’t fully conscious of how soft skills help leaders achieve common goals and elevate the next generation of leaders. I’ve now recognized I need to focus on self-awareness and driving to understand what motivates others.

In our very first class, all of us took a Personality Assessment. That’s when I became aware that I have a highly transactional style at work, and am less emotional. Armed with my strengths and that knowledge, I’ve been exploring how to employ soft skills and emotional intelligence to improve my relationships as a colleague, manager, husband, father – and leader.

One assignment was to volunteer as a mentor for the INTERalliance Hack-a-thon. This is an amazing student-led program, where high-school students organize a hack-a-thon and tech skills-development program for around 500 of their peers from around the Greater Cincinnati region.

I was truly awed by just how well-spoken today’s high school students are. They are already being trained to present and persuade, and collaborate with others in groups. I certainly don’t remember myself or my peers being that articulate at such a young age.

I was mentoring these students who are interested in technology as future career paths, yet at the same time I learned from them. It reinforced to me how problem-solving is a part of everyone’s job. I came back to work feeling enlightened and invigorated.

Now, I push myself to get out of my comfort zone. I seek out opportunities to meet new people, understand what motivates the people around me, and support others in reaching their aspirations. I try to be more aware of others’ skills, needs, emotions, and motivators instead of getting in and charging toward the goal.

I realize that my goals will not be achieved overnight – but neither will they move forward if I neglect them. And that only by serving others can I truly understand what leadership means. I’ve learned to empower others, clear their path to success, and most importantly take care of myself, because if I neglect myself, all else will eventually fail. That is a part of the power of my awareness in leadership.

I am grateful to CoStrategix and The Circuit to have been a participant in the first cohort of the IT Leadership Institute.