Developing Self-Awareness

For a leader/manager self-awareness is the foundation for achieving higher levels of performance. Highly successful people are not necessarily blessed with a higher intellect or more charisma than others, but they do know how to make the best use of their talents, avoid the pitfalls that could limit their success and how to tap into the talent that they have available to them within the workforce.

Frances Mote, one of my LinkedIn connections, commented recently that “a good dose of introspection and self-awareness definitely enhances any leader’s abilities. Tony Scutella’s point regarding the behavioural assessment really resonates with me. It has been my experience that when they see the detail, it’s an eye opener.  I actually prefer the assessment to 360, because it “feels” more objective to the client.  The process to becoming self-aware can be very painful for some people, when they finally recognize the impact their behaviours can have, so back again to Tony’s point regarding commitment.”

I can still recall the “aha” moments that I experienced years ago when I received a copy of a self-development report that was part of a behavioural assessment I had completed. The last line of the introduction page stuck with me to this day…”remember, your development starts and ends with you”. The detailed analysis of my strengths and development areas that followed was painful at times but clearly detailed for me how my actions had been impacting the people who I was counting on to deliver the results the organization was expecting from my team.

That behavioural assessment ranked a number of strengths that I possess and I can remember thinking that this is great…this is definitely me! Then the other shoe dropped and I read about the developmental areas associated with those strengths. You see not everyone applies the same behavioural filters to the world that I do (or you for that matter). What is a strength for me was actually being viewed negatively by some of the members of the workforce that I was involved with.

Understanding this was a watershed moment for me in my leadership development. While I got the concept that great coaches were able to work with the individual talent they had on their teams I guess I always felt that didn’t apply to me. I believed that by applying my ability to persuade (I called it charm) that I was eliciting buy-in on the part of my direct reports, my peers and my bosses along the way. After some soul-searching and some very difficult conversations (for me), I found out that wasn’t the case at all. Some saw me as self-centered, overwhelming, adversarial, unwilling to listen, stubborn, and unwilling to consult with others prior to making decisions. This is the short list by the way! All of this, word for word was validated within that self-development report that was based solely on my behaviour.

The report listed my strengths and ranked them in order of the intensity based on my behavioural profile. It also showed me the areas of development associated with each strength. Most importantly the report showed me how to leverage my strengths and how to manage my development areas effectively.  For example:

Pushing for Results

Collaborating with Others


  • You are highly results oriented, ambitious and assertive.
  • You are unwavering in your desire to succeed.
  • You are very comfortable expressing your point of view.

Developmental Areas

  • You want control and will automatically take over in many situations.
  • You can be overwhelming, inadvertently discouraging input from others.
  • You may be seen as dominant or self-centred.

Action Items:

To leverage your strengths…

  • Take stock of your successes. Think of the specific actions you took to achieve great results and recall situations where others helped along the way. Next time you face a challenge, draw on these experiences to guide you.
  • Conduct your own performance review. Where are you compared to your goals? Determine what you are doing well and look for areas where a different approach might be beneficial.

To manage your developmental areas more effectively…

  • Take a back seat role. Approach your next project with the idea that you do not have to take complete responsibility for the outcome. Instead, seek out the contributions of others and be prepared to share the credit with them.
  • Be the last to speak. In meetings, try not to influence the discussion too early on. Filter your comments by asking ―Does this need to be said or do I just want to say it?

That report provided me with the blueprint to develop a personal action plan that included desired outcomes and target dates for successful implementation. It had me address potential obstacles and develop plans for overcoming any that might hinder progress and provided the opportunity to review progress at regular intervals. It also suggested that I sit down with my boss for a one-on-one to discuss the action plan I was crafting. I took it one step further and had one-on-one meetings with all of my direct reports and the peers that I worked most closely with. This 360 degree element ensured that I had people in my corner coaching me to success along the way and certainly kept me accountable to the action plan.

Stan Labovitz at SurveyTelligence is always telling me that “if we can find it we can fix it” and this was definitely the case for me. It took time, effort and commitment. Change is never easy, especially when you have a huge belief in yourself. Change is possible but you have to know where to begin and for me this was an incredible starting point. I know from personal experience, and now from working with my clients in helping them develop talent, that finding “it” is way easier than you might expect.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has been reading my posts. I’m now getting close to 500 views a month and I want you to know that I appreciate the time you invest. There is a call to action here if you are currently in a leadership role, or have leadership aspirations. What are you doing to effectively manage your development areas? I’d like to hear from you!

About Bob Woodcock

Guaranteed results using science and insight as the catalyst to align, engage, and develop people so they positively impact the top and bottom line. Align, Engage, Develop, Perform!
This entry was posted in Alignment, Employee Engagement, Innovation, Leadership Development, Performance Management, Succession Planning, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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