Leaders and teams with a high level of individual self-awareness understand their strengths, weaknesses and biases. This equips them to not only continually improve upon themselves but also adds incredible value to the organisation. Leaders can better support their teams and team members can help each other be more effective.
Let’s take a look at how to cultivate self-awareness and discover your strengths.
How does self-awareness impact performance?
“Self-aware people tend to act consciously rather than react passively, to be in good psychological health and have a positive outlook on life. They also have greater depth of life experience and are likely to be more compassionate to others.”
– Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence
If you are self-aware, you:
- Know what you are good at and where you can improve
- Own up to mistakes
- Consider how your actions will affect others and think before acting
- Can ‘read’ people and situations via social cues and nonverbal language
- Understand you still have a lot to learn
- Listen and ask the right questions
A low level of self -awareness, on the other hand, can result in exaggerated emotional reactions, a fixed mindset, trouble making decisions.
Leaders, in particular, need to develop high levels of self-awareness to improve decision-making skills, cultivate and inspire an incredible team and building meaningful professional relationships.
How to develop your self-awareness
Know your triggers
The key to developing self-awareness is to identify emotional triggers that may set you off during a workday.
What actions/discussions move you out of your rational thinking brain into a more emotional response? What situations do you find yourself becoming overly defensive, aggressive or withdrawing? Understanding what triggers you and being mentally and emotionally prepared for those moments can help you respond more intentionally.
Monitor your self-talk
What’s going on in your mind? Self-talk is something we all do and how we deal with our emotions is hugely influenced by our internal dialogue. The way we speak to ourselves during the workday, negatively or positively, will eventually manifest in our outward emotional reactions.
Take a few minutes to listen to what’s going on in your own head. Write down how you’re feeling to bring perspective to the situation and prevent yourself spiralling into a negative loop.
Ask yourself what you’re not good at
One of the more challenging parts of developing self-awareness is understanding and owning up to the things you aren’t good at.
This is especially true for those in leadership roles. A key part of your self-awareness journey is asking yourself what you’re not good at. This allows you to ask for help from or delegate to those who are good at those things which increases efficiency and quality of output.
Invest in a coach or professional training
The right professional support can invaluable when it comes to helping you expand your level of self-awareness. Coaches or trainers can work with you to identify your personal values, and what impact these have on how you handle your work life.
Professional support will also guide you on adjustments to be made to your behaviour to maximise your career potential.
Make time for self-reflection every day
Self-reflection is an essential part of cultivating self-awareness. You need to take an honest assessment of yourself regularly – ideally, every day – reflecting on how you handled certain situations or triggers and your internal state. What worked, what didn’t and how did your behaviour impact the outcome?
Rather than just thinking about it, write your insights down in a journal during a quiet time to get the most out of this practice.
Commit yourself to one or two (or all!) of these techniques and watch as your self-awareness begins to increase and the positive impact it has on your workday and professional relationships.
How to discover your strengths
Moving along the journey of becoming more self-aware you’ll naturally begin to gain more insights into your natural strengths. To uncover these even quicker, here are a few actions you can take.
Figure out what gets you into ‘flow’ state?
The flow state is also known as ‘being in the zone’. It’s the feeling you get when you’re mentally absorbed, energised and focused while doing a certain activity. Time seems to fly by when you’re in this state.
Think about the activities in your usual workday. What tasks do you love getting into? Maybe it’s digging deep into a spreadsheet to tackle a tricky budgeting problem or leading a team brainstorming session. Pay attention to how you feel when you are working. The activities that light you up are likely to be your areas of strength.
Ask for someone else’s input
Getting external, genuine feedback can be valuable when it comes to uncovering where your strengths at work lie. Let your boss or a trusted colleague know you’d like their constructive input and are open to accepting all feedback graciously! Censored feedback isn’t very helpful.
You can also think about the skills people compliment you on. Does everyone praise your incredible organisational efforts when it comes to putting together staff events? Or perhaps you always get great feedback on giving client presentations that win new business.
Use personality tests to get insight on your strengths
To be honest, there’s not really a ‘perfect’ personality test out there but tests like Myers-Briggs can provide interesting insights into your behaviours. Use these kinds of personality tests to serve as a data point towards greater self-awareness and reflecting on your characteristics; strengths and weaknesses.
Keep tabs on your decisions
‘Feedback analysis’ as legendary management consultant Peter Drucker calls it, is one of the best ways to discover your strengths. To do it, keep tabs on important decisions you make at work, noting down what you expect the result will be.
Afterwards, go back to your notes analyse how things actually played out compared to what you expected. This process helps highlight where you perform well and areas you need to work on.
How would you rate the general level of self-awareness of team members and leaders in your organisation?
Our Strengths And Awareness program helps team members know their ‘best selves’ and ‘worst selves’, leaders deeply understand their team members and improve emotional intelligence in the workplace overall.