Self-awareness is now a necessary skill to generate higher levels of job satisfaction and success. With self awareness, you become a better leader, manager and will effectively improve all of your relationships both personal and professional. Despite this intuitive knowledge, some studies show that there are roadblocks and myths to self-awareness. Interestingly, most people BELIEVE they are self-aware but in fact only 10-15% of us are. In one study there were 3 findings that stood out.
There are two types of Self-Awareness.
- Internal awareness of our inner selves, feelings and needs.
- External Self-Awareness of how OTHERS view us. People who are externally aware are shown to be more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives. For leaders to see themselves as others do have a far better relationship with them.
I observed this personally in one of my recent work environments. You must be aware of how others view you so that you build consensus and thereby success. If you don’t, you are at peril for failure. You will not be successful as your staff will sabotage your plans and mission; your company will not meet its goals and you will be left wondering why.
Information taken from the Harvard Business Review article dated January 4, 2018 shows the following trend:
People with High Internal self awareness and Low External self awareness can be called Introspectors. They’re clear on who they are but don’t challenge their own views or search for blind spots by getting feedback from others. This can harm their relationships and limit their success.
People with High Internal self awareness and High External self awareness can be called Aware. They know who they are, what they want to accomplish, and seek out and value others’ opinions. This is where leaders begin to fully realize the true benefits of self awareness.
People with Low Internal self awareness and Low External self awareness are called Seekers. They don’t yet know who they are, what they stand for, or how their teams see them. As a result, they might feel stuck or frustrated with their performance and relationships.
People with Low Internal self awareness and High External self awareness are called Pleasers. They can be so focused on appearing a certain way to others that they could be overlooking what matters to them. Over time, they tend to make choices that aren’t in service of their own success and fulfillment.
Surprisingly, studies show that people do not necessarily learn from experience. Expertise does not help people clear out false information. We continue to engage in self-confirmation bias and seek to minimize any evidence that shows we are not as great as we think we are.
Similarly, the more power a leader holds, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills and abilities. Ouch! That hurts when you’ve worked so hard to become successful right! Note to self: Be humble. Stay humble. Take in and consider all the information including the negative regarding your thoughts and plans as a manager.
The most successful managers consistently sought frequent critical feedback and thinking from their staff and peers. Thus, they increase their self-awareness and depth of character.
The third finding is that introspection does NOT lead to self-awareness. WHAT! Just because you meditate and spend time thinking about yourself does not lead to self-awareness. Research shows that people are doing introspection incorrectly. We tend to invent answers that “feel” true but can be wrong. For example, if an employee has an uncharacteristic outburst one could conclude they are not cut out for management when in fact it may have been low blood sugar, multiple pressures from home that also came to a head that day. We tend to pounce on conclusions to substantiate our biases. I guess we are not as objective as we thought!
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