Do you hit your targets and strive to be the best leader you can be, yet your team relationships need improving? Or do you often catch yourself hastily reacting from your emotions rather than thinking things through calmly?
It may well be that while you’ve got many top qualities and perform great at work, you could benefit from cultivating some self-awareness. Although we often think we know ourselves, chances are…we actually don’t.
Developing self-awareness is a skill that needs to be learned, practised, and refined. Not only will gaining self-awareness make you a better leader, it is also something that will benefit your team as well. Here are some ways you can become more self-aware at work, and why it matters.
What is self-awareness, and why does it matter?
Because the spotlight is on you, it can be easy to confuse self-awareness with being self-absorbed however it is a quote the opposite.
Self-awareness is about understanding about how your thoughts, feelings and impacts you and how your thoughts feelings and attitudes impacts others – which, as a leader is an important skill and one that is highly valued in the workplace.
You’ll use your emotions intelligently to be better leaders
How we handle emotions at work has a fundamental impact on those around us. Energy is contagious and a cranky overwhelmed boss makes for a terrified team who walks on egg-shells. A leader who makes demands when their team is down or struggling is unlikely to motivate their team at that time.
By gaining a richer perspective on how you handle your emotions, you’ll be able to communicate and collaborate more professionally, productively, and empathetically at work.
You’ll make smarter decisions from a place of clarity
Research shows that self-awareness boosts decision making. Whether firing back an email or saying ‘yes’ to a deal, in the heat of the moment it’s easy to react from your subconscious without really thinking through the consequences. When you’re more self-aware you can operate from a more rational, astute place rather than just on autopilot.
You’ll feel more balanced with greater confidence
Self-aware leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. They rely on their strengths to make better decisions and hire people who complement their skill sets and empower them to fill the gaps.
Those who are self-aware are open enough to realise they don’t have all the answers and aim to engage the right people to help them sift through information. They are open to ideas and are generally more accepting of the diverse thought within their team – which leads to better business outcomes.
It helps you navigate conflicts with ease and take stress in your stride
If you’re struggling to meet deadlines, constantly locking horns with colleagues or frequently blaming others, it’s time to become more self-aware. Once you do so you will have a greater mastery over your emotions, personality, and behaviour.
This makes you better equipped to handle what your work life throws at you, helping you ride the highs and lows like a pro. Learn what your triggers are and identify when you are performing at your best.
Self-awareness training can benefit your team, too
A 2015 study implemented self-awareness training interventions over the course of a six-week period. Employees reported gaining a greater appreciation of diversity, improved communication with colleagues and increased confidence.
Furthermore, self-awareness was demonstrated to be an asset at work, associated with higher well-being and improvements in several positive occupational outcomes.
5 ways to be more self-aware at work
Be humble and use your failures as a lesson
Self-awareness means surrendering your pride and ego. Not only will you discover that experience can be your greatest teacher, but you will also feel more optimistic about taking risks because you do not fear the outcome. Remember, failures are not a weakness.
Get feedback from colleagues
Nothing is more insightful than finding out what your superiors or team really thinks of you. After all, how others see you matters. Do they feel comfortable approaching you with a problem? Are they happy with how you set expectations and briefs?
If you feel unable to ask for direct feedback, become a master of observing body language, faces and physical cues. Getting an outside perspective will arm you with a deeper level of understanding about yourself.
Apologise when necessary
If your team perceives you as an impenetrable fortress that is unwilling to see or own any mistakes, this could generate hostility and resentment.
Hold yourself accountable for errors or misjudgements and apologise when necessary. This will show employees that you possess self-awareness and will actively seek to change your behaviour moving forward.
Be a conscious listener
You’re in a meeting or holding an appraisal and yet you find yourself nodding away as the other person is talking while thinking about what you want for lunch.
Although it’s easy for your attention to drift, chances are you could be missing valuable information about a project or being insensitive to an employee’s feelings. Failure to acknowledge others could create an environment of distrust, due to a lack of understanding.
Being self-aware is about actively listening with no judgements or assumptions around what others say (and don’t say). In turn, this self-awareness can help you respond to your team’s needs compassionately and productively.
Help yourself by helping your team
As we’ve established, helping your team build self-awareness has many benefits. Consider cultivating a culture of coaching whereby you offer opportunities for employees to grow professionally.
This could mean holding training sessions or regular personal development meetings. You may even like to think about psychometric tests which generate meaningful information about aspects of an individual’s personality. Armed with this feedback, your team will become more conscious of how their colleagues perceive and interact with them.
1 Developing self-awareness is like a mindfulness practice that helps you gain insight about your character, behaviours, and how they affect those around you.
2 Gaining self-awareness in the workplace can help you manage your emotions better, make better decisions, increase confidence, and improve the way you cope with stress.
3 In a study on self-awareness training, employees reported gaining a greater appreciation of diversity, improved communication with colleagues and increased confidence.
4 Self-awareness has been demonstrated to be of value at work, associated with higher well-being and improvements in several positive occupational outcomes.
5 Be humble and use your failures as a useful lesson rather than feeling defeated by them.
6 Dedicate 15 minutes each day to creating a mindfulness practice such as journaling or meditating.
7 Getting direct feedback from colleagues about how they perceive you and observing their body language in your presence is a useful way to gain deeper self-awareness.
8 Cultivate a culture of coaching whereby you offer opportunities for employees to grow professionally and develop self-awareness.
9 Hold yourself accountable for errors and apologise when necessary to show your employees that you possess self-awareness to build trust.
10 Actively listen to employees without letting your judgements, prejudices or assumptions get in the way.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.