Learning about ourselves and how we relate to others
Imagine being able to share your thoughts regardless of who you’re speaking with or your expertise in a field. Imagine being able to empower your team to do the same. Is it possible for a workplace to openly communicate regardless of title or hierarchy? How do you get to the root of how your team is feeling and empower them to share openly and honestly with you? This is where Conscious Leadership comes in.
A Conscious Leader embraces their whole self with total awareness of their leadership impact.
They are able to listen and understand how they relate to others in a way which allows them to continue to grow, adapt and lead their team more effectively. In order to become a more Conscious Leader, one must make a shift into a more conscious mindset. Effective leadership begins with Awareness and is the first step in the Four A’s of Conscious Leadership.
What is awareness and why is it important?
Awareness is defined as the “quality or state of being aware.” You might be wondering “what does this truly mean” or “how does this relate to leadership?”
Daniel Goleman, who popularized Emotional Intelligence, considers self-awareness to be the most crucial competency associated with workplace emotional intelligence. His studies suggest that people who are aware of their emotions are more effective in their jobs. They recognize and understand their moods, emotions and needs and are able to perceive and anticipate how their actions affect other people.
They are also open to feedback from others on how to continuously improve and make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures. As a result, they are more trusted leaders and create more productive workplaces.
When we learn to tune-in to ourselves, we create choices of how we move forward and engage.
Self-awareness is about being “in-tune” with yourself in relation to others. It plays a critical role in:
- How we understand ourselves
- How we relate to others
- How we connect to the world around us
When we tune-in, we can learn about our inner resources, abilities and limits. We begin to understand our strengths and weaknesses and become open to receiving candid feedback. This allows us to see new perspectives and continue down our path of learning and self-development.
What are the blind spots?
“I don’t know that I don’t know something.”
The challenge in self-awareness is we all have blind spots.
Blind spots: (noun) Things we may not be aware of about ourselves or in relation to others.
Blind spots are created due to either a lack of a skill or competency or the inability to see how our stories, beliefs, mindset, feelings or past experiences impact our behaviors. This is called unconscious incompetence, simply put
I don’t know that I don’t know something. Below are the steps that people go through learning new skills as outlined in a model that was developed by Noel Burch in 1970, called the four stages of competence. The model highlights two factors that affect our thinking as we learn a new skill: consciousness (awareness) and skill level (competence).
Our blind spots have control over us and our actions. Yet, when we understand the underlying unconscious mechanism that drives our thinking and actions, we have the ability to choose our next steps.
We can use awareness to move to the next step on the ladder, from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. This is the act of moving from “I don’t know that I don’t know something” to “I know that I don’t know something.” Once we are aware of what we don’t know, we have choices available to us.
A case study: building awareness in a senior leader
In my work with senior leaders, increasing awareness is one of the first areas I work on. One of my favorite examples is a client who was completely unaware of the impact his communication style had on others. As a senior leader he was a strong problem solver and was driven to achieve results in a very timely manner. However, his approach was not getting the best out of the people around him. This was his unconscious incompetence.
After completing Leadership Circle 360 Assessment, he received feedback on how others perceived him. They saw him as driven, but his direct style was perceived as not collaborative. As a result people did not feel motivated to work with him. At meetings, he dominated conversations and didn’t give space for others. In reviewing his results, he went from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. This information gave him the choice to then acknowledge his behavior and move into action, the next steps in the conscious leadership framework.
Increase our awareness through feedback from others
One of the best ways to become more self-aware is through asking for feedback from others.
Self-Awareness Tip #1: I often suggest that leaders find people who they trust to tell them one thing they can do going forward to be a more effective leader. This is what Marshall Goldsmith refers to as Feedforward as a way to focus on the future and not the past.
Self-Awareness Tip #2: I also advise that leaders listen to feedback with curiosity and without attaching to the feelings that come up. There are also more formal instruments available to seek feedback from others such as the 360 assessment or 360 interviews. Both are valuable methods to increase awareness through feedback from others.
Increase our awareness through self-inquiry
Equally important, is becoming more aware through self-inquiry. This means questioning, exploring, examining and investigating anything regarding oneself.
Self-Awareness Tip #3: Psychometric instruments such as DISC and EQ provides a lens to better examine our individual attributes. These assessments help us better understand ourselves and the impact we have on others.
Self-Awareness Tip #4: Self-inquiry also requires reflection about what emotional stimuli or events have impacted you. It is important to maintain daily practices to assist in this journey. Remember, you are not your thoughts and feelings. You are merely observing your responses and reactions in order to better understand who you are and how you impact those around you.
These self-awareness tips may seem easy enough, but in practice self-awareness is a process of constant learning. Therefore, ORCA and WithPause have put together a detailed guidebook that you can use throughout your day for self-inquiry: 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience.
Awareness is the first step to Conscious Leadership...
Awareness is about our ability to be fully present in the moment and to choose our next steps in an informed and conscious way. Once we are able to increase our awareness, we can move forward to the next phases of acknowledgment, action and adaptation.
Do you need advice or support in your journey to increase awareness for you or your team? Download our resource 7 Daily Micro-Practices to Shift Your Experience.
Stay tuned for the next part of our Conscious Leadership series which covers the second step of the 4 A’s of Conscious Leadership: Acknowledgement. If you want to keep up to date, join our newsletter for a monthly dose of conscious leadership.