Top Ten Tips for... Improving Self Awareness
Just like anyone else, a good business leader won’t necessarily be good at everything. But those who really know their strengths and weaknesses and have a strong sense of self-awareness will definitely be able to glean more respect and admiration from others.
Leaders often focus more on developing individuals or their team around them rather than including themselves in the appraisal process. But people at all levels in their career should take stock and think about how their skills measure up in comparison to others.
If we know what our strengths are, we can apply them in the right situations and know when to draw on other people’s skills instead. Self-awareness is part of being a better leader.
Here are our top tips to help develop your self-awareness:
If you feel you have hit a particular milestone at work or have made a career-defining decision, it’s wise to write down what you expect the result to be; what do you think is going to happen? At an appropriate time, go back to your notes and compare what actually happened with what you expected to happen. Don’t just think about ‘what’ happened, make sure you also reflect on ‘why’ it happened. Management Consultant Peter Drucker called this reflective activity ‘feedback analysis.’ Writing it down can be really therapeutic too.
Think about how your personality defines you
Being self-aware is about understanding what makes you tick and how your personality shapes you at work. If you’re confident and a ‘doer’ you may find you need to put more effort into planning, organising and thinking things through. Or, if you’re naturally introverted, you may find it difficult being a good team player or doing presentations.
Use personality tests to help you
Tests such as Myers-Briggs and the SHL Personality Test may not necessarily be accurate or reveal what you expect them to, but they can help you to reflect on your behaviours, characteristics and what drives your decision making. This will help boost your self-awareness.
Embrace your good and bad experiences
Whether they are good or bad, we learn what our strengths and weaknesses are through our experiences. If something went really well or particularly badly at work, it’s worth taking some time to think about why. This will help give you confidence in the skills and attributes which make you successful at what you do and help you identify what you could learn from in future.
Learn from your failures
Acknowledging the things we are bad at can feel really awkward and in itself feel like a sign of weakness. Employees at all levels need to be able to identify what skills or personal attributes they lack so as to be better in future. Being self-aware about what we need to continue to learn may be a humbling experience, but necessary. Don’t be afraid to embrace your weaknesses and learn from your failures.
Ask for constructive criticism
Identify people you trust and ask them to give you feedback about what they think you’re good and not-so-great at. This could be solely about your role at work or your personal attributes too. It may be helpful to ask people to provide feedback anonymously as they are more likely to be honest. Don’t take it personally! It can be incredibly hard to hear what people think about you, so you need to make sure you take any comments constructively, and in the spirit they’re meant, so you can continue to develop and change people’s perceptions.
Be aware of other people’s talents
The best teams are those who support and complement each other. Bering aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and also those of your existing team members, can help you become a better recruiter. Being aware of the type of person you want to recruit and the skills gap you need to fill is imperative because great teams are rarely made up of similar people with the same attributes.
Use your self-awareness to develop your skills
Being self-aware helps people in senior positions to identify gaps in their own skills. You would probably recommend to any employee that they should seek guidance or mentoring to help them achieve their goals, so why shouldn’t you too? It’s always worth making a note of what your current skill level is, how it might be holding you back and where you want to be in future.
Practice mindfulness at work
Our work lives can often feel fast paced with little time to really stop and consider the smaller (but just as essential) things which happen around us. Being more mindful and aware of what’s going on with your team or wider organisation can help you relate better to your colleagues and vice versa. Being more mindful gives you a better perspective and allows you to make more considered and better decisions.
Buddy up with a good coach
We’ve all had inspiring mentors who have made a lasting impression on us. Employing people who are passionate about helping their colleagues succeed is a great idea if you want to embed a coaching culture into your workplace. And as a business leader, you should be on board with this too. A good coach can be invaluable in providing you with feedback which will enhance your self-awareness. A good coach can also help you to unravel feedback from others and use it to help you to change.
For more information, read our blog about how to develop self awareness in the workplace here.
Julie Gordon is Managing Director of cHRysos HR Solutions, a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD and CMI accredited qualifications and HR Consultancy Services, nationwide and overseas. Contact Julie on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.