How improving self-awareness makes you a better teammate and a better leader
I’ve been through more management and leadership workshops, courses, classes, and programmes than I can count. It seems every organisation I ever worked for felt the need to send its managers through some sort of analysis and training.
They were of varying quality; some I considered a real waste of time and bemoaned the total of the salaries I saw sitting in the room around me, and others I felt I got at least a nugget of useful information if not a whole day’s worth.
One thing they call had in common though, no matter how painful or rewarding they were to sit through, was that they all taught me a little bit more about myself.
Self-awareness is a hugely beneficial trait, or in my view- skill- for anyone, but it is particularly valuable for managers and leaders. Your ability to be a good leader is intrinsically linked to your level of self awareness, and the relationship is exponential.
The more I learned about how I took in information, or viewed people whose thought processes were very different than mine, or why I struggled to realise when the team was having warm and fuzzy moments, the better I was at being better engaged with my team while maintaining my authenticity.
There are lots of different kinds of tests, assessments, descriptions, etc., that are designed to help you identify some of your key characteristics so that you can better understand how you get on in the world, particularly as it may be different to others.
In many respects it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Just going through the exercise of trying to better understand the way your own brain and therefore your perception of the world works can bring a level of enlightenment that immediately makes you a better teammate whether you’re the leader or not.
In The Grip: When stress accentuates your worst qualities
The most valuable thing I learned from all my times in the goldfish bowl of assessments is what happens to me when I get stressed at work. This is often referred to as being “in the grip”. This specifically refers to being in the grip of those aspects of your personality that are not as strong as others, so you find your ability to cope and navigate through a stressful period even more difficult. It gets harder and harder to rectify the situation, as you are using your weakest skills to try and get through it.
Having self-awareness means that as soon as you realise you have slipped into that scary place, you can begin to call on your strengths to help reverse the spiral and start the journey back up.
Here is handy list of things that happen to me when I get in the grip, and, because I have explored this about myself over the years, a corresponding list of things I can do to help get myself out of it:
This is a model, MBTI, that has worked well for me for ages. The descriptions of my personality type really resonate with me. I recognise myself in it and the tools it provides for my type work very well for me. It may not be a good one for you.
Some people find the whole idea of categorising or labelling people in to personality pots as ‘suspect’ at best, and at worst some sort of dehumanising hocus pocus. I get that and respect those views!
What matters is that you take the time to really get to know yourself and how you operate in the world. And just about any kind of model will help guide you through that, even if that happens because you are deconstructing that model and ripping it to shreds.
Self-awareness is a gift we can all give ourselves, regardless of our role at work or in life. It will make you better at what you do, a better teammate, a better leader. It gives you the skills you need to be better at managing stress and stressful situations.
Pick a model and get started- your “self”- and your team- will thank you.
My first book, Becoming a Fearless Leader: A simple guide to taking control and building happy, productive, highly-performing teams is out now. You can find access to a free pdf workbook that accompanies it on my website. If you do read my book, I would love to hear your comments.
I write about how I became the founder of a tech startup as a non-techie, over-40 female with no entrepreneurial experience, and all I am learning along the way. You can see more here. If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial journey, please recommend and share.