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Self-Awareness as a leader in the workplace

“Failing to recognise the influence you have can lead to missed opportunities to spearhead change, ask for things you deserve, and show up in support of causes you care about”

This is what Vanessa Bohns tells us in her article ‘Don’t underestimate your influence at work’. This ties greatly into what it means to be self-aware at work. We will look at what it means to be self-aware in the workplace and take some time to discuss this.

What does it mean to be self-aware?

Having self-awareness means that you have a constructive understanding of yourself. It is essential for your success because if you do not understand yourself (what motivates you and what drives you, etc.) then it can be difficult to cultivate growth and development. Being self-aware will allow you to adapt your behaviour and/or communication style to win people over or sell your ideas.

As a leader, it is important to communicate confidently, and having self-awareness will help you do that because you understand yourself better and know what you are good at. You also know about the areas where you can improve. Self-awareness is also important if you are a leader who has a vision since it will make you adjust your behaviour helping you to get your team on board with your vision so that you can work together towards a common goal.

What is needed to better understand yourself?

There is a study that reveals that 95% of people describe themselves as being self-aware and confident but when they do a self-assessment test, only 12% of people prove that statement to be true.

If you are at work and you find yourself in a position where people are not listening to you, or you’re not selling your ideas, or you’re often finding yourself in conflict, you’re noticing that your team is not meeting their deadlines and things are quite disorganised, then it is time to self-evaluate. Ask yourself if this is about your team and the people you work with or is this about how you approach these situations. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to ask that question, use self-assessment tools and evaluate to see if you are part of that 12% of people that are actually self-aware or if you are part of that other 88%. Ask yourself if there are things that you can do differently, and approach matters differently because you can’t expect different results with the same approach each time.

Other than assessment tools, what else can you use to self-assess?

It will also benefit you to have a conversation with someone that you trust in the workplace, it can be a manager, colleague, etc., and ask them for personal feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask if the problem is on your side or on your team’s side. Take a step back and before you question other people, question yourself because it is crucial that you do not turn a blind eye to your own mistakes.

Keep in mind that when you receive feedback from your manager, colleagues, or peers, it is useless unless you reflect on it. You have to start thinking about what you are going to do and start putting that learning into motion. Learning something about yourself is one thing, but how you act with the knowledge is more important. It is eye-opening when you ask yourself how many times you actually acted on feedback and reflect on the times that you could have done something to improve your behaviour.

Another thing to take note of is that you should start recognising the impact that your behaviour has on your other team members because if you are not aware of how your actions impact the rest, it can be detrimental to the outcome of the task at hand.

It is important to consider the other people in the room. If you want to win people over or if you want to become more collaborative, you have to be genuine about your intentions. Do not simply do something because you think that it will appeal to someone in the team, do it because you care about the impact and outcome it’ll have on the team members and the current task.

Getting your team on board with your vision

If you want your team to get on board with your vision, then it is crucial that you keep them engaged by asking their opinions and involving them in the decision-making processes. Bring your team together and form a collaborative work environment which will be essential to a high-performance team. Do not listen to your own narrative when you are leading a team because that might prevent you from engaging and collaborating with them. Remember, it is not only about you, and it is not even just about your team; it is about the whole company.

When you lead your team, keep in mind that there are two key expectations from people in the workplace: employees want rewards, and they want recognition. People want to feel as if they are needed and wanted. So, ask yourself if you are actively listening to them and if are you really engaged with your team. If you engage with them, it will also be easier to see what they bring to the table and their value in the team which will make them feel recognised.

In conclusion

Self-awareness is a journey and not a destination; we are constantly dealing with different things all the time and different obstacles come our way. It is all about recognising what our blind spots are (with the help of self-assessment tools) and searching for potential areas for self-development. Think about how you can impact and positively influence others around you. It is a process, and it is about learning about yourself and acting in accordance with what is right for all stakeholders.

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