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

The Who, What, Why, and How of Personality Assessments

I am a big fan of personality assessments used in the workplace or for any type of teambuilding.  We use this tool often in our work. Besides being plain ol’ fun, it provides individuals, teammates, and supervisors insight they would not otherwise have.



The assessment can be used for individual employees, teams, boards, groups or even families.



A personality profile describes who you are as a unique person. The assessment we have chosen to use is the Workplace Big Five. It provides general information (see two sample assessments below) about each person who completes the assessment questionnaire based on 5 essential personality characteristics.  Each individual will get scores in the following categories:

  • Need for Stability
  • Extraversion
  • Originality
  • Accommodation
  • Consolidation

The assessment only takes 15 minutes, but, if the individual doesn’t overthink their responses and goes with their first response, reveals much. We learn, among many other things:

  • How they respond to stress.
  • Whether they are stimulated by people and activity or not.
  • Whether they are open to change or prefer the status quo.
  • How they respond to authority.
  • How much they plan.
  • How each of these characteristics interacts with the other.



The purpose of completing the assessment can be multi-fold or for one aim:

  • Selection
  • Promotion
  • Validation
  • Development
  • Conflict resolution
  • Collaboration

It is always helpful for each individual who participates to become more self-aware of his/her personality, individuality, competencies and motivations. There are no good or bad scores. The results help the individual explore their unique personality styles, how their personality exhibits itself in the workplace, and how it helps them relate to team members.

In a group setting, it is so freeing to see how you are alike and different from your teammates. If someone discovers she has a low ‘warmth’ score, she might become more conscious of how this effects her encounters with others. Conversely, there are ah-ha moments such as “Oh, ______ is not acting like that to get under my skin, that is just who she is.”

The estimate is that 60% of your personality is based on who you were at birth (nature), while 40% is based on what has occurred since then (nurture). The old adage, “A tiger can’t change its stripes” comes to mind. Did you know that under the tiger’s fur, the skin is also striped? The interpretation is that we can’t change our essential nature. We are who we are down to the skin. Nonetheless, being self-aware can make all the difference in the world.



If you would like to learn more about assessments and how they can be used with coaching or teaching, we would love to hear from you anytime!



Powers & Associates is certified to assess the The WorkPlace Big Five by:

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WorkPlace Big Five Assessment Samples

See a sample trait report here:  Trait Report

See a sample narrator report here:   Narrator Report


The Good and the Bad in Leadership

I often listen to NPR radio. On one such occasion, there was a series of soliloquies about the 7 Deadly Sins. The purpose of the program was for presenters to talk about one Deadly Sin and how it comes to bear in less obvious ways. This led me to thinking about these sins as they apply to leadership.

Let’s explore them one at a time but let’s also look at the flip side of each sin.

Greed. Greed can quickly get you derailed. The leader who becomes greedy may make short-term decisions rather than long term ones. They may choose to pay key people less so that their year-end bonus will be more. Greed could create a positive influence if it yields giving generously or creating goodwill. This type of greed could have a leader  greedy for acknowledgement or being unselfish in making decisions about other people rather than selfish, e.g. taking a risk on promoting someone who is not quite ready, because the leader sees the potential rather than the immediate gain.

Sloth. Sloth in a leader can lead to many downsides. I have had the unfortunate experience of working for a boss who was slothful. I am sure you have had similar experiences with a boss or co-worker. This individual does just enough to get by. They pawn off work to anyone who is ready, willing, and able. When you follow-up with this slothful leader on tasks you thought they were going to do, somehow it has bounced back to you. On the positive side, a leader who holds back and lets others lead the way, allowing them to demonstrate their talents, gifts, and skills, knows that letting others shine doesn’t take away from their own competence.  What might look like sloth, could very well be good leadership, so be careful that you are not quick to judge.

Pride. You’ve heard the old adage, “Pride cometh before a fall.” Unbridled pride in a leader can create a huge narcissistic impediment. This is the leader who takes the credit for anything and everything, whether he accomplished it or not. Also, this is the leader who is potentially to prideful to own up to mistakes or short comings.  On the winning side, pride can help a person stay afloat when getting through a difficult time. The leader who takes great pride in the work is motivated to do his/her best. The operative phrase is ‘in the work’. Great leaders are typically pretty humble people.  The leader who holds out critical self-judgement and believes in themselves, can often see the pay off.

Lust. Lusting after anything – another person at work, your boss’ job, the corner office, the next wrung on the corporate ladder, the competition’s market position – creates more negatives than positives. It focuses the leader away from his/her own priorities, planning, and deployment AND leads to the next sin, Envy. A positive form of lust could be passion. Passionate leaders are those who help make things happen. They are on a quest for the next steppingstone and tend to take others with them in advancement.

Envy. Green (with envy) is not an attractive color in a leader. Envy creates resentment. The envious leader is sitting in a meeting thinking about why someone else gets away with not accomplishing a task or goal when s/he is held accountable. The thought, “Gosh, I wish I had it as easy as __________.” is one that often plays across the envious leader’s mental screen. Envy can also create a leader who is jealous of others’ abilities, especially when they are better at something that is a weakness for the leader. In this situation, the leader may sabotage an action of those s/he is envious of. On the positive side of envy, it may help that someone pays attention to what the others have that they want. So a leader who observes someone who is getting ahead because they care about other people may begin to ask themselves deeper questions about how they could begin to care more.

Gluttony. Gluttony can be similar to greed. It means excessive indulgence. So a leader who is gluttonous may do everything in excess – take on huge projects for a team that is under resourced, underestimate the time that is needed to complete a project when assigning it, becoming a workaholic, and creating stress by his/her unrealistic expectations. Gluttony creates MORE and MORE and MORE. It is not much fun to work for a gluttonous leader. The only positive of this type of leader is that s/he will also use excessiveness in the recognition of team members and the celebration of team accomplishments. Expect wonderful parties!

Wrath. The angry leader is indignant, wanting to deliver punishment rather than information.  Little injustices can create an instant trigger of anger. I have personally witnessed the angry leader who throws things, jumps up with waving arms to make a point, who explodes and lets you know they are angry by facial expressions, body language, and pointed words. There is no question in your mind when they are hot under the collar. It is very difficult to know when to approach them about anything. They are NOT very approachable. You typically have to work around the angry leader. The positive characteristics of someone who is intense is that they are willing to fight the battles for the budget, the team, and the company. Bring it on! Of course, it is better to have them on your side. This type of leader would be a formidable enemy.

Summary. As a leader in any situation, explore your motivations, especially when you react strongly to what is happening. Is your reaction driven by one of these sins? If so, rethink your viewpoint. Drop those preconceived ideas about people and about yourself. Often the line between the positive and negative side of these sins is thin.  You may spin it one way, but take cues from those around you in evaluating where on the spectrum you may stand.  Stand back, humble yourself, and start over. Apologize, if appropriate. Be as honest with yourself as possible.  Exercise self-control. Use positive words and deeds in your role. It is easier to abstain from the sins than clean up after them.  It is not an easy task to break the bad habits caused by any of the seven deadly sins, but self-reflection and honesty will go a long way to righting the past wrongs of a leader.

Going Beyond the List: The Whys of a Great Workplace

We see the articles and lists all of the time.  16 Companies to Work for in 2016. Best Places to Work and Why.  Top Ten Companies for Employees.  Being a professional who works to help companies and their cultures every day, I know that the impact of these types of articles is not really about the companies in the list. Unless you happen to be one of the ten companies mentioned, WHO is mentioned is not important at all.  What’s key is WHY they are listed?

I recently came across an article in FastCompany Magazine by Lydia Dishman titled “These Were The Best Places to Work in the U.S. This Year.”  When I took the time to reflect on the best places I have worked or been associated with, the companies are all very similar to the litany of high-profile companies in the article.  The message can easily be adapted into a small to medium-sized business, a fast-growing or established one, as long as you are willing to open your mind and listen to your employees.  I made a list of 11 points that are a part of every successful and dynamic company I have worked with, then compared it to the FastCompany article.  Surprise!  They were very similar.

Continue reading “Going Beyond the List: The Whys of a Great Workplace”

Words in the Workplace: Delegation

Delegation / noun : The act or process of delegating or being delegated : prioritizing tasks for delegation., delegated power, ‘send on a commission’

Delegate / verb : To Entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself : He delegates routine tasks | The power delegated to him must never be misused., To send or authorize (someone) to do something as a representative : Edward was delegated to meet new arrivals.


Delegation: What Leaders Need to Know

“You’re on the spot every day. Ultimately, you are accountable. Your success is measured in terms of the way your employees perform. You have to make sure that the work gets done, costs are controlled, employees work as a team, and upper management is satisfied. Clearly, you have a tough job. Delegation is a powerful tool to ensure that all of this is possible.

Be a supportive coach. Tune into your employees’ talents. Delegate projects based on their strengths and weaknesses.

Redirect those who perform below standards. Correct negative behavior gently for long-term change. Learn the psychology of motivating people through the art of delegation.  Finding the right combination of responsibilities can be a great motivator for success.

Bring out the best in your team members. Help them grow so they’ll contribute more and feel better about themselves. You’ll all enjoy your workplace more — and find greater satisfaction in working together.”

“Go Team!  Take Your Team to the Next Level” by Ken Blanchard

I would add, these top three things you need to know about delegating:

  1. Let go.  You will not succeed as a manager and leader until you learn to delegate well.  Letting go of some of the details will allow you to step up to the next level of performance.  Delegating is as much about your own growth as it is about the growth of your team members.
  2. Be creative.  Delegating requires creativity.  You have to answer the questions, “What details can I give up? What small projects or tasks can I carve out of my day?  How can I break down large projects into smaller milestones that can be delegated to others?”
  3. Set standards and boundaries.  You cannot begin to delegate a task until you have defined the boundaries of decision-making, trained the individual or individuals well, and tested them in the process.

To get great results:

  • Move key decisions closer to the front line.
  • Create teams that release the power of team members – power that comes from their knowledge, experience, and internal motivation.
  • Use the abilities of people in performing tasks that do not make the best use of your experience and skills as a supervisor.


Uniqueness Matters

I ran across a quote this morning that I think is thought-provoking.  Not one that I hadn’t seen before, but still stimulates thought.

“The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” – Peter Drucker

If you are at a crossroads in your business or your life, it is time to take stock.  It may be time to make some tough decisions.  It may be time to make major changes.  When I talk about change with clients, they usually think of small changes and rarely think of significant changes.  Change that is comfortable is probably not true change.

Here are some definitions of change that may help you think about change differently:

  • the act or instance of making or becoming different
  • a new or refreshingly different experience
  • a clean or replacement phase

These definitions seem to remind us that true change is more dramatic than we would like it to be.

If you are ready for true change, ask yourself these questions.  Think about your answer for each question for several minutes:

  1. How are you spending your time?  Is your day over scheduled or under scheduled?
  2. Are you doing what you should be doing?
  3. How is what you are doing truly unique compared to your competition?
  4. Are you excited about what you are doing?
  5. Are you learning something every day?
  6. Are you getting the results you want?
  7. What would others say about what you are accomplishing?
  8. Who should help you when making change decisions?
  9. What should your goals be?
  10. What are the next big steps/changes you should be taking to accomplish your goals?

No one else will have the same answers to these questions.  Your answers, your decisions, and your next steps are unique to you and your business.  You may need a sounding board but don’t wait to begin making changes.  Begin now!

“Personal leadership is cultivating the wisdom to recognize our need for renewal and to ensure that each week provides activities that are genuinely re-creational in nature.” – Stephen R. Covey

News, Thoughts, and Ideas!

Organizations Being More of Who They Are

Sometime ago I read that people who win the lottery do not change they just become more of who they were in the first place. In other words, money just brings out the best or worst qualities.

As I have observed recent decision-making in organizations, I have come to believe the same is true of organizations. I also believe that the same phenomena occurs in the extreme times – burgeoning economic times and lean times.


1. A company chooses to keep people in jobs even when the company is marginally profitable or breaking even. The message is, “We, as a company, value people over short-term profits. We don’t want to add to the problems.”

2. A company chooses to reduce the workforce when don’t really need to from a financial viewpoint. The message they are emitting is, “We, as a compnay, wer not willing to tell someone they were a sub-par performer so we use the economic environment as an excuse to get rid of marginal performers.”

3. The first company in good times, typically makes the right, carefully thought out decisions, considering people’s needs as an important factor in the decision-making process.

4. The second company in good times, may make self-serving, rash decisions and is not as concerned with others’ needs.

What can we as organizational leaders learn from these observations? We need to:

  • Examine our values as leaders and as organizations and ensure decision-making matches these values.
  • Be transparent in our decision-making and communication. If we are not, trust will deteriorate and trust is difficult to rebuild.
  • Be open and honest about where the organization stands. If difficult decisions need to be made, the employees should not be surprised.
  • Ask for input, gather facts, and compare notes with other respected leaders prior to making decisions of import.

Think about who you are; think about who you are as an organization. Ensure it doesn’t change based on the economic changes – up and down.