Self-awareness is the ability to see ourselves clearly. Research shows that 95% of us think that we are self-aware but the reality is that 10-15% actually are self-aware. This minority are what Tasha Eurich calls “Self-Awareness Unicorns”.
If you haven’t heard of Tasha Eurich, we recommend that you look her up immediately. She has carried out extensive research into the fascinating subject of self-awareness and has written a book called Insight on the subject. At its core is Eurich’s own research and work in the Fortune 500 world combined with a huge study into people who have made dramatic improvements to their self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a surprisingly learnable skill. People who are self-aware are more fulfilled, have stronger relationships, are more creative and more confident. They also perform better at work and are more promotable as they make more effective leaders. So, there is a definite benefit for organisations to encourage their employees to be more self-aware.
Turn why questions into what questions
Tasha also gave a great Ted Talk based on her research into self-awareness. Her key takeaway from this research is quite simple. It’s about changing the way you introspect. Many of us may think that we are good at self-analysis, and that we are therefore self-aware. Tasha, however, points out that a lot of the time we are not asking ourselves the right questions when we take a deeper look at ourselves.
With introspection, the most common question we ask ourselves is why? This approach will rarely lead us to a useful answer. We just keep questioning ourselves, the world and our past actions. This takes us further from the truth. We can’t excavate our true unconscious thoughts and feelings in this way, so we invent reasons.
This can lead to depression, overconfidence and being wrong. For example, if you are unhappy in your job, you may pose the question: “Why is this happening to me?” If you are not being truly honest with yourself, questioning why may lead you down the wrong path. It is only going to lead to more confusion.
Just a small, simple tweak in thinking can increase your self-awareness. Don’t ask why, ask what
Not why is this happening me but what’s important to me? What is making me feel so terrible at work? What type of situations make me feel unhappy and what do they have in common? By asking what, you can understand the true cause of what is making you unhappy and how you can change it.
Remember, why questions trap us in the rear-view mirror. What questions move us forward towards a resolution.
How can we use this knowledge in a work environment?
Successful companies understand their areas of strength and caution. They constantly ask themselves What are we doing well? and What can we do better?’ This type of self-awareness leads to a more agile, cohesive and efficient organisation. Self-awareness is an important part of the company culture but it ultimately has to start at the individual level.
Recognising and understanding the effects that our own behaviour can have on our colleagues and team members is an essential trait of good leadership. We can’t change who we fundamentally are but a profound awareness of our own tendencies and stretches makes it possible to better adapt our behaviours – particularly when we also understand where the other person is coming from. Self-aware leaders help to avoid work conflict, aid cohesion and efficiency, and create more engaged employees.
If you are a manager and a member of your team appears unhappy, the simple switch from why to what questions can be a useful way to start a conversation with them to discover exactly what is making them unhappy.
Being a team leader or manager is challenging, and it can be difficult to navigate your team through daily obstacles without losing sight of the bigger picture. The starting point is knowing exactly what the behavioural drives and needs of each team member are, and to share this knowledge with each other.
Behavioral Assessments can provide the necessary objective insights into the core drives and motivational needs of each individual. This creates an invaluable self-awareness among your team and fosters mutual respect, allowing for smoother cooperation.
The unique PI Team Discovery™ tool
The new PI Team Discovery™ tool can be the start of the self-awareness journey for each individual, and your team collectively. This advanced Software functionality is founded in science and allows you to assess your team’s collective behavioral identity in direct comparison with your team’s strategic goals.
This helps you to visualise where the team is likely to succeed and where they might need additional support. Once you have identified strategic alignment, opportunities and challenges, the functionality allows you to create customised action plans to create high-performing and well-functioning teams that are strategically aligned.
Using the tool will help each member of your team to understand themselves better. They will be more aware of the impact of their own core needs and motivations and those of others. This will help them to understand how to adapt their own behaviour to work better with their colleagues who may have different character traits or ways of working.
Team challenges can then be more easily resolved as team members have more awareness of themselves and their colleagues so they can work together quicker and more easily to look for solutions to an issue.
Tasha Eurich’s research demonstrates that self-awareness is not a common attribute among the general population. In her Ted Talk Tasha Eurich uses the phrase: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Don’t be a self-awareness unicorn. Self-awareness starts with you, and what you can do to understand and improve the situation that you are in.