Self-Awareness – The Leadership Superfood of the 21st Century Written by John Russell, I/O Psychologist Self-awareness is not a “nice to have” for leaders, but a necessity to drive positive business results. Self-awareness has a positive relationship with decision making, relationship building, and managerial effectiveness. Research also shows that senior executives who lack self-awareness are much more likely to derail, costing their organizations millions of dollars doing so. Self-awareness is one of the biggest opportunities we have for self-improvement, not just leadership development. It helps us become better friends, better parents, and better versions of ourselves. The ability to bring a clear self-awareness to our lives and careers can ultimately help us feel more fulfilled, help improve our psychological well-being, and help us increase our overall effectiveness. 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. The Awareness Gap Self-awareness is the ability to reflect on and accurately assess one’s own behaviours and skills and the impact our behaviours have on others. This distinction between self and others is important when it comes to self-Awareness, as it can be split into two distinct areas of focus: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness: Internal self-awareness is about looking inward and reflecting on understanding your own skills and behaviours, values and motivators. It’s your self-understanding of who you are, your strengths, weaknesses, feelings, and goals. External self-awareness is having an 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 being what someone knows about themselves and what they hope to accomplish, and impact being an understanding of the results of their actions. When there is a disconnect between our intentions and impact, there is an awareness gap. This is where we find leadership blind spots: the reactions of others to our behaviours that we are not aware of. So the question for leaders is: “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, we need help. So what does that help look like? One of the best ways to accomplish this is to use appropriate measurement tools. In order to gauge Intention, the internal side of self-awareness, we use tools such as personality assessments like the MBTI or Work Personality Index. These tools help us explore our preferred styles of operating, our values and our motivators. When measuring Impact, we need a tool that gathers objective feedback from other people. 360 assessments show leaders how they are coming across to the people around them. And this is a key benefit since candid feedback is rare for leaders to receive. Most people are quite reluctant to share feedback with their leaders, leaving leaders in a feedback deficient environment. By gathering feedback using a 360 tool, which allows for anonymity, the fear and uncertainty people naturally feel is reduced. Leaders then are able to receive the necessary feedback to identify their blind spots. And this is where those opportunities for development become most apparent: being able to quickly see areas of ineffective performance that the leader wasn’t aware of, and come up with actions to mitigate these areas, develop them, and turn an average leader into an exceptional leader. The Psychometrics 360 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 other people that work closely with the leader, and this allows us to see multiple viewpoints and a variety of relationships that the leader maintains, and the different contexts in which they operate. It also gathers this feedback anonymously, alleviating a lot of the fear and anxiety people have when providing behavioural feedback, and allows them a safe space to provide candid feedback. 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.