Self Awareness

Leadership Skill:  Self-Awareness

Every leader goes through many stages of development, which typically begins with taking a fresh look at yourself as a leader.  During the first stage, you listen and learn from everyone and every situation.  The second stage involves beginning to prove yourself as a leader, especially in your decision-making and problem-solving skills.  By the third stage you begin to have successes and deliver results based on the potential others saw in you. The fourth stage is when you start to question your abilities, especially when something has set you back a bit.

After a few iterations of the other stages, you enter the 5th stage – the one where you exhibit a little more maturity as a leader.  You discover a sense of humility and humor – the stage where you realize that those you surround yourself with are just as important, if not more so, than you are.

In a Forbes article by Chinwe Esimai titled “Great Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness” she states that self-awareness has been cited as the most important capability for leaders to develop.  Successful leaders know where their natural inclinations lie and use this knowledge to boost those inclinations or to compensate for them.

Key points:

  1. Know yourself.  How self-aware are you?  How keen is your emotional intelligence, that ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others?  How are you effectively using that awareness to manage your behavior and relationships?
  • Identify external factors that trigger both negative and positive behaviors by you and toward you.  What is the impact of culture on your and others’ perceptions?
  • Gather trusted feedback to help you understand the impact of your actions on others.  Are you unaware of your blind spots that may limit your effectiveness as a leader?
  • Consider the circumstances by thinking about when to utilize a personality trait to your advantage and when it’s best to leave it on the sidelines.  Most self-aware leaders have learned to identify their natural tendencies and have adjusted their behavior in some way, in order to change how they are perceived.  They did not change their personality, but they did learn how to change their behavior, when needed, in both business and personal situations.
  • Assess behaviors in light of your values and priorities by being honest about what tendencies you would like to change and which ones you would like to build upon.  The best outcome of self-awareness is to figure out what makes you great and be more of the excellent you.
  • Stay curious about yourself and others.  Curiosity will help you continually learn, grow, and develop as an effective leader.

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

What transformational leader is lying silent in you, encompassing all of the talents and gifts that can enable you to become the next-generation you? – Robert McMillan

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.” – Kazuo Ishiguro

Workplace Big Five Overview

Autobell has selected to utilize the Workplace Big Five Personality Assessment tool to help you be more self-aware as a leader.  It can also be used as a coaching tool by your boss or mentor.

Q1   What is the Workplace Big Five?

A1   The Five Factor Model was developed by research psychologists during the 1980’s.  What set it apart from other personality assessments was that it was done in the modern age utilizing high-powered computer analytics.  Other assessments utilized in the business world were typically developed before WWII.  The psychologists were from across the U.S. and concluded through extensive lexical factor analysis that five concepts embrace the nearly 18,000 words which describe personality traits found in the English language. These over-arching terms are need for stability (response to stress), extraversion (response to stimuli), openness (to change and new experiences), agreeableness (accommodation), and conscientiousness (consolidation and planning).

Q2   What is the purpose?

A2   The results can be used for multiple purposes – hiring, promotion, career development, and leadership coaching, among a few.  The reports describe who the individual as a unique personality.  Each person is complex and exhibits various dimensions of personality within the five super traits and the twenty-three sub-traits.   It is important to note that the reports are just ONE piece of information used in assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Q3   What if I feel that some of my scores are ‘bad’?

A3   There are no good and bad scores.  Everyone is a star – a five-point star.  Your strengths allow you to do at least one thing better than almost anyone else.  Working from your strengths in approaching work, relationships, and challenges will allow you to succeed.   Reference:   “First, Break All the Rules” and “The One Thing You Need to Know” by Marcus Buckingham.

Q4   How does my personality impact my team?

A4   The results help the you explore your unique personality styles.  It gives you a basis to observe others and how their personalities are exhibited in the workplace. Some of the sub-traits which impact teamwork are intensity, interpretation, warmth, sociability, and others’ needs.

Q5   What if I disagree with my results?

A5   One possibility is that you may not be as self-aware as you think you are.  Ask others close to you if your results describe who you are.  If you still question your super-trait scores, it may be because one of your sub-factor scores is higher or lower.  There is also the possibility that you were not honest in your responses to the questions or that your answers were polarized (extremely different for the same type of situation).  Further exploration and explanation may be needed.

Q6  What if I don’t like my results?

A6   We all have areas we want to improve and develop.  That is natural, just like someone with a stockier build wishes to be thinner and someone who is wiry wishes to have more bulk or strength.  It is probably not worth an extreme amount of effort to try to change who they are (60% nature, 40% nurture).  How can you work around what you consider a weakness or area for development?

Q7   For example, I know that I have to be detail-oriented every day, yet my score shows I have high scope (not detail-oriented).  Why?

A7   These scores represent who they are most of the time.  Mid-range scores may mean that your responses are situational.  In the example above, you are capable of doing details well.  We can all do things out of our comfort zone for a short period.  Nonetheless, it is probably not a good idea to have a job that requires you to perform well in that area all day.

Q8   What if my scores are very different from my boss or my managers?

A8   As a rule of thumb, if there is a 10-point or more difference in your score and someone else’s score for a factor or sub-factor, there is a potential for conflict.  That does not mean it is negative conflict.  It just means you will have a difference of opinion about some things.  That is okay.  In fact, challenging each other and bringing different skills and abilities and personalities to the table will help the team overall.  It is good for a team to have diversity in personality and personality factors.  Less than optimum decisions are made when everyone thinks alike.  

Q9  Will my scores change over time?

A9   Scores will not change significantly unless many years have passed since the last report or if you have experienced a significant life event.  As we get older, typically our scores have slight changes – N score increases (less impervious to stress), E score decreases (less extraverted), O score decreases (less open to change), A score increases (more accommodating), and C score increases (more conscientious).

Q10  What if one or more of my scores is extremely low or high?

A10  If a score is in the lowest 7% or the highest 7%, you need to be aware that 93% of other team members will not be like you.  For example, if you are an extreme perfectionist, it may be difficult for you to delegate to others because you don’t believe they will be able to perform the task correctly.

BRH January 3, 2022

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