Self-Awareness – The Key to Leadership Development 3-minute read Written by John Russell, I/O Psychologist Self-awareness is not a “nice to have” for leaders, it is necessary to drive long term business results. Self-awareness has a positive correlation with decision making, relationship building, and managerial effectiveness. Research shows that lack of self-awareness at the senior executive level costs organizations millions of dollars annually. When we don’t have a clear understanding of how our behaviour is impacting others, we begin to alienate the people around us, and the worst part is that we do all this while being unaware that we’re doing it. Self-awareness is one of the biggest opportunities we have for self-improvement. It helps us become better friends, parents, and leaders. Increasing self-awareness can ultimately help us feel more fulfilled, improve psychological well-being, and increase our overall effectiveness. THE SELF-AWARENESS GAP Self-awareness is the ability to reflect on and accurately assess one’s own behaviours, skills and the impact these have on others. The distinction between self and others is important when it comes to self-awareness. It can be split into two areas of focus: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness. Internal self-awareness is the ability to look inward and reflect on understanding your own skills, behaviours, values and motivators. It is the self-understanding of who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, feelings, and goals. External self-awareness is the understanding of how others see us, and how our impact is felt. We characterize these internal and external categories of self-awareness as: Intention and Impact. Intention is defined as what someone knows about themselves and what they hope to accomplish, and impact being an understanding of the results of their actions. There is an awareness gap when there is a disconnect between our intentions and impact. This is where we find leadership blind spots. The question for leaders: “How consistent is your self-view with the perceptions of others?” The more closely aligned an individual’s intention and impact are, the smaller the awareness gap will be. HOW DO WE INCREASE SELF-AWARENESS? In order to increase self-awareness effectively, an individual needs accurate feedback. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use appropriate measurement tools. To gauge Intention, the internal side of self-awareness, we use personality assessments like the MBTI or Work Personality Index. These tools help us explore our preferred styles of operating, values and motivators. When measuring a leader’s Impact, we need a tool to gather objective feedback from others. Since most employees are reluctant to share feedback directly, this can be a challenge. By gathering feedback using a 360 tool, which allows for anonymity, the fear and uncertainty people naturally feel is reduced. 360 assessments show leaders how they impact the people around them. With honest and objective feedback, leaders are able to identify their blind spots, and opportunities for development become apparent. Leaders are able to quickly see areas of ineffective performance they were not aware of, and come up with actions to mitigate these, develop them, and work towards becoming an exceptional leader. 360 DEGREE FEEDBACK ASSESSMENT The Psychometrics 360 is a multi-rater feedback instrument based on 125 workplace specific behaviours that are related to 24 leadership competencies, and we categorize these competencies into 3 areas: Work & Execution, Interacting with Others, and Thinking and Deciding. This tool gathers feedback from supervisors, co-workers, direct reports, and others that work closely with the leader. This reports on multiple viewpoints, relationships that the and the different contexts in which the leader operates. These ratings are anonymous, alleviating the fear and anxiety people have when providing behavioural feedback, providing a safe space to be candid. Psychometrics Canada offers training on how to effectively use the instrument and debrief leaders in a coaching context. Click here: For more information on the Psychometrics 360.