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


When you think you don’t have the time…

When you think you are just too busy to even think about down time, that is the time you need to do something about it. Do it anyway.

The little things matter. Here is a list of things you can do with little bits of moments – things that will make your day better.

  1. Try to make someone smile.
  2. Write a thank you note – you know the old-fashioned, hand-written one.
  3. Plan a mini-vacation. Something to look forward to can be powerful medicine.
  4. Medidate – try the app MNDFL.
  5. Look out the window.
  6. Roll down the windows while driving in your vehicle.
  7. Go to a favorite place nearby.
  8. Sit by the pool or a body of water.
  9. Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  10. Take a walk in the park.
  11. Walk in the rain.
  12. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a long time.
  13. Pet your dog or cat.
  14. Do something therapeutic – sing, dance, paint, create something.
  15. Play with a young child.
  16. Kiss your sweetheart.
  17. Read an uplifting book, magazine, or article.
  18. Listen to uplifting music.
  19. Go for a bike ride.
  20. Listen to outdoor life.

Try a few items on this list or create your own list. You will be amazed at the new energy and focus you have! Don’t take my word for it. Try it! Now!

Lessons Learned in 2020

  1. If you love where you live and who you live with, isolation is a piece of cake. 
  2. If you have down days, and you will, the morning will usually wash those feelings away. 
  3. You can do with less. 
  4. Vision for the long term helps. This too will end. 
  5. Reaching out, connecting with others, and helping and supporting others is one way to stay sane. 
  6. Having a purpose each day is important. 
  7. Projects, projects, projects. They keep you busy and focused. 
  8. Faith and hope are key. 
  9. There are things you can control and things you cannot. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. 
  10. Writing your thoughts, especially your gratitude, can be a good way to spend your time and energy. 
  11. Capitalize on opportunities that present themselves, e.g. investing in a new hobby or interest. 
  12. Spend as much time as you can outdoors doing something active, if you are able. 
  13. Stress brings out more of who people really are. 

2020 taught a lot of us good lessons. Some were harder to learn than others. It certainly will make facing the rest of 2021 easier. Hope you take a few minutes to enjoy each day, look around you, and encourage the people who are important to you!



Appreciation – Recognition of good points, good qualities of something or someone.

What does this word inspire in you?  Does it make you feel validated?  Worthwhile?  Very rarely do we feel that others notice what we do and our contributions.  If you begin to notice others’ contributions and tell them so, it can be the beginning of creating an environment of appreciation.  Have you told your customers you appreciate them?  Your peers?  Your manager?  Your friends? Your family members?  Be creative about the way you say “thank you”.  Small things matter and are impactful.  Give someone a note or a small gift.  Tell them specifically what you appreciate about them.  Take the time to reflect on who and what you appreciate.  Say “thanks” with your words and your actions.

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you.  Express your appreciation sincerely without the expectation of anything in return.  Truly appreciate those around you and you’ll soon find many others around you.  Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” – Ralph Marston


Top Ten Team Member Qualities

“What are the top qualities or attributes you would look for in a good employee, (whether it is someone who would work for you or as a peer)?”  During a personal survey asking this question, here is what I discovered:

  1. Dependable, reliable – you can be depended upon, you do what you say you are going to do.
  2. Honest, integrity – you tell the truth even when you have made a misstep, you are trustworthy.
  3. Hard-working – you put in your best effort.
  4. Gets along with customers and co-workers – you are pleasant and harmonious in your interactions with others.
  5. Takes initiative – when you see something that needs to be done, you do it.
  6. Willingness to learn, motivated to learn – you learn something new every day.
  7. Personable – you are sociable, but professional.
  8. Knowledgeable, educated – you know your stuff.
  9. Desire to please – you want to satisfy your boss and your customers.
  10. Straightforward – your communication is clear, honest, and easy to understand.

As I continued to ask the same question, the list did not get any longer.


Career – a job or profession someone does for a long time

The operative word in the definition of career is “long”.   You need to find, if you have not already, the work you want to do for a long time.  I know very few people who choose their career from the start.  One of the funny lines about careers – “The reason adults ask young children what they want to be when they grow up is because they are looking for hints”.

Typically careers take a meandering path.  Recently at the pool, our older grandson told a perfect stranger that he wanted to live on a ranch out west, design video games, and teach fencing when he is an adult.  The younger grandson, not to be outdone, said “I want to be a sushi restaurant owner.”  We shall see what the future holds.

You may know someone who got their degree in one thing but the opportunities took them somewhere else.  We would hope that ‘somewhere else’ sparked something in them and that they enjoy what they do.

You know your job is well-suited if:

  1. Everything comes naturally.  In other words, you know what to do next in differing situations but you don’t know why you know.  It just flows out of you.
  2. You receive consistently positive feedback.  The things you do and the results you achieve receive high praise.
  3. You find co-workers you are in-sync with.  This is the opposite of feeling odd-man-out.  Being in-sync with those you work with and your work environment is especially gratifying.  You know you are in the right place at the right time with the right people.
  4. You are passionate about what you are doing.  You are having fun because you know the work you are doing matters.  Every positive impact you have on others brings you great joy.
  5. Pay is not the most important thing.  Because you are being allowed to use the competencies and skills that energize you; the money is secondary.
  6. You can be you.  You don’t have to pretend.  It feels good because who you really are can shine through.

One story…

Kay was in the television industry.  She worked her way up to managing a t.v. station, putting in long hours and great effort to make it a success.  She was a high-achiever.  The people she was working with loved her.  But… something was missing.  After great angst, she left the industry and moved to Chile for a couple of years teaching English as a second language at an elementary school.  She discovered she loved working with children and loved teaching.  That is what was missing for her.  She completed her Masters in Education (previous degree had been in communications) while working at a predominantly-Spanish-speaking elementary school in Boston.  When she graduated, she accepted a teacher position in a 2nd grade classroom in a small town outside of Boston. Her career and path to true success was launched!  She has been happily teaching full-time for five years.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

“It is highly impossible for you to be successful at what you don’t love.  Do what you love and love what you do.” –  Israelmore Ayiyor

It’s a Rainy Day…

Rainy days create a change in the normal schedule.  You can get things done that may have been on your to do list for a long day.  Business is a little slower, staying inside is the tune of the day, and time weighs on you in such a way that you may even be able to contemplate a bit.


Rainy days should be celebrated.  That is a difficult thing for me to say.  Sunny days create an energy in me.  I need to learn to accept the gift of a rainy day, too. 

We have a friend who loves, loves, loves the rain.  On rainy days,  he intentionally takes a walk outside…a long walk.  I often wondered what was the appeal.  But, if you do it yourself, you will understand.  Maybe not in the rain AND wind but a soaking rain.  Put on a good raincoat and enjoy it.  It has its own beauty.

If you need to work, go ahead, get it done.  Make a to do list of tasks you can be productive in on a rainy day.  Keep the list on your desktop or laptop as your rainy-day list. Your list might include:


 -Get organized

-Catch up on emails

-Write a letter (yes, a letter)

– Talk to someone on the phone

-Read a leadership book or article

-Make repairs around the house or in life

-Start working on a long-term project that you can work on during other rainy days

-Take a step back for the day and reflect

These are all things you can accomplish on a rainy day. Maybe at the end of the day, you’ll see a rainbow.

“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day,

give thanks for your blessings, and pray for guidance every day.”

– John Wooden


Leadership Skill: Encouragement

“The secret of leadership is simple.  Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future and go there.  People will follow.

                                                                                                         – Seth Godin

Encourage: give support, confidence, or hope to (someone), give support and advice to (someone) so that they will do or continue to do something, help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop

To encourage is to give active help or to raise confidence to the point where one dares to do what is difficult.

To hearten is to put one’s heart into or to renew someone’s spirit.

To inspire is to infuse with confidence, resolution, or enthusiasm.

To foster is to encourage by nurturing or extending aid.


 I have recently heard managers use words that make me cringe when referring to corrective action with employees, words such as:

  • punishment
  • discipline
  • write-up
  • reprimand

As a leader, you will not get very far with taking employees to the next level of performance with this mindset.  If employees use these terms, so be it, they do not know any better.  But… make every effort to expunge such words from your culture.

Instead, corrective action should be simply a means of communicating an area that a team member needs to improve.  Substitute these words:

  • performance improvement
  • redirection
  • positive reinforcement
  • coaching points

Corrective action is not punishment or discipline.  Corrective action is communication and encouragement about performance improvement.  You need to be clearly on the employee’s side until it is obvious that they can’t or won’t meet the required expectations.


Tips for encouraging others:

  1. Thank those who help you along the way. Give compliments when warranted.  Say, “We couldn’t have done it without you.”


  1. Be friendly, but professional.  Be a good listener.  Be matter of fact when giving redirection.  Say, “It may be best for you to work with Tim a little longer.  Pay attention to the order he does things.  What do you think?”


  1. Observe when someone does something (anything) particularly well, especially when it seems natural to them.  Let them know you noticed.  Build on the positives.  Say, “I observed you today when you re-organized the way you were doing things.  That is exactly what we are looking for.”


  1. Set the Tone. Distinguish yourself as a positive, “can do” leader.  Say “I am certain you can conquer the challenge.”


  1. Jump In. Take the initiative to help someone who is needs redirection or is overwhelmed. Ask, “How can I help?”



“There is a maxim that is indisputable: people may not remember what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.  You must give people your emotional commitment to enlist them in the results you want to achieve.” 

– Loretta Malandro, PhD


Words in the Workplace: Curiosity

Those who know me well, know that I am fascinated by words.  Thus, I have decided to refocus my blog on words that impact the workplace.  Let’s start with one of my favorite words – Curiosity.


  • A desire to gratify the senses with a sight of what is new or unusual.
  • Gratifying the mind with new discoveries.
  • A desire to learn about new things; inquisitiveness.
  • Anything novel, extraordinary, rare, or strange.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

–  Walt Disney

In a work environment, if you are curious, if you are inquisitive, you will more than likely be successful as a professional and as a leader.  Being curious about people, processes, better ways, how others are doing what you are doing, etc. will bode you well.

I worked for a surgeon at one point in my career.  Every day, he was trying to discover new ways to make what he was doing less invasive, more comfortable for the patient, more effective, and requiring less healing time.  He was the guy you wanted on your side if you had to have the type of surgery in which he specialized.

When I am in a customer service retail setting where I am the customer, I am observing the many ways the company could improve service.  Is the company as curious as I am about why one line is moving and the other is not, why one customer is smiling and another is not, why customers are having to walk around obstructions in the aisles or check out areas, etc.  Are they observing anything?  Are they curious about what is happening right in front of their eyes?

Encourage your team members to be curious.

  • Bring employees together in one place at one time to hear the same message about curiosity.  Ask them to look at what they are doing individually and as a team with new eyes.
  • Tap an individual employee and ask his/her viewpoint about a specific process.  The newest employee will have the freshest outlook.  The longest-term employee may be able to tell you what is most frustrating to him/her.
  • Send reminders to employees that you want their input, fresh ideas, and suggestions.

Curiosity spurs new discoveries and employee engagement.  I am still curious; I am still learning and hope you are.


Sanguineness is in… The importance of wise, effective, and confident leadership

Have you ever worked in an environment where the leaders you encountered were not wise or effective?  In such a culture, you are constantly questioning why you are here and what you should be doing.  Conversely in a work arena in which wise and effective leaders abound, you know exactly why you are there and what you should be doing.  In addition, you even know how performing a task in a specific way helps the organization achieve its goals.

Wise leaders have several important characteristics. They are:

  • Willing to go the extra mile for you, the customer, and the organization.
  • Interested in others as much or more than themselves.
  • Curious about who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to challenge you in using your strengths.
  • Savvy in interacting with others internally and externally to get the support and resources to get the job done.
  • Effective in accomplishing the high impact priorities.  They don’t allow the unimportant tasks to distract them from making a difference.

When I have worked for wise leaders, I believed they were interested in my ideas, my contributions, and my team. Measuring time, counting tasks, and making themselves look good were not important.  They were unselfish and well-tuned to their own values and those of the organization.   Examples of things that wise leaders do.

  • Demonstrate good judgment by getting the facts and others’ input before making decisions.
  • Show proper respect for others by being courteous and considerate.  They understand the importance of representing what the organization stands for – internally and externally.
  • Act as the harmonious leader to bring all the parts together in a sagacious way, while still holding others accountable.
  • Use their mental agility to be aware of potential problems and act prudently when problems do occur
  • Keep confidences.  They are discreet in their dealings with others.
  • Keep themselves Informed about internal and external news that may impact the organization.
  • Keep an open mind.  They are like the Dalai Lama – enlightened.
  • Stay on their toes about their field of knowledge, ensuring they don’t become irrelevant.  They remain equipped and ready for whatever comes.
  • Nimble and dexterous in moving from task to task, person to person, team to team.
  • Act judiciously when there is conflict.  Their ethics are never in question.
  • Exercise a sensitive sense of humor.  They don’t take themselves too seriously.

Quotes from the Dalai Lama:

“To carry out a positive action, we must develop a positive vision.”

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.”

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”

“Too much self-centered attitude brings isolation.  Result:  loneliness, fear, anger.   The extreme self-centered attitude brings suffering.”

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity”.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”