Published date: February 11, 2020
Last modified: February 11, 2020

Self Awareness in the Workplace

How often do we hear of a business that values self-awareness amongst its leaders and actively promotes feedback?

Research carried out by the Korn Ferry Institute in 2013 found that “companies with higher rates of return on stock also have employees with few personal blind spots,” in other words they evidenced a correlation between self-awareness in leaders and overall financial performance.

We are commonly driven as leaders to focus on our team and individuals.  What we do to engage them and take them forward with us in driving competitive advantage?  The management of change and improvements in organisational performance.  In doing these vital things we often overlook ourselves as the leader.  The importance of self-awareness and the impact that this has on business performance.  When in fact, one of the best things a leader can do to be more effective is to develop their self-awareness.  In this way, they become aware of what drives them and their decision-making.

Personal Impact – Strengths and Weaknesses

If we know what our strengths are, we can apply them in the right situations.  We can know when to draw on the strengths of others within the team.

If we know what our weaknesses are and recognise our emotions in particular circumstances.  We can acknowledge these and stop ourselves from reacting inappropriately to a situation.

Being self-aware enables us to be more realistic about ourselves and our judgments and in turn, others trust and respect us for this, the converse is that when we lack self-awareness we appear less credible because others are more aware of our own strengths and weaknesses than we are ourselves. See our Personal Impact workshop

Being self-aware enables us to balance our conviction with humility; creating our vision but being willing to actively listen to new ideas and other opinions.

So what can you do to try and develop greater self awareness and understand your personal impact?

Here are 4 ideas on this:

Use behavioural profiling to understand what ticks your box and what ticks you (and them) off

Whilst tests such as Thomas International PPA are not perfect, they do help you to reflect on your attitude, behaviours, characteristics and what drives your decision making and so become more self-aware of your own impact on results and ‘others’ impact on you!

Use professional help.

A good coach can be invaluable in providing you with feedback that will enhance your level of self-awareness. Make sure you check out their credentials and certifications first though and be certain they can work with you in the way that you want them to.  A good coach can also help you to unravel feedback from others and use it to help you to change.

Keep a note on yourself.

It can be helpful when you make an important decision to make a note of what you expect the result to be; what do you think is going to happen? At an appropriate time, go back to your notes and compare what did happen with what you expected to happen. Don’t just think about ‘what’ happened, make sure you also reflect on ‘why’ it happened.  Management Consultant Peter Drucker called this reflective activity ‘feedback analysis’:  “the only way to discover your strengths.”

Ask someone else.

Identify people you know and feel you can trust and ask them to give you feedback on your personality, habits, needs, and values.  It may be helpful to ask people to provide you with this feedback anonymously so that they are more likely, to be honest, and provide a valid response that is insightful and helpful.

Remember it is not just by accident that the starting point for those going through rehabilitation are encouraged to be self-aware and acknowledge that they have a problem; the same principles of ‘know thyself’ apply in leadership too.

Thanks to the People Development Network

Published date: February 3, 2020
Last modified: February 3, 2020

The 5 disfunctions of a team

If you’ve been following Join the Dots for a while while, you’ll know we’re all about developing your team’s performance and effectiveness. The concepts developed by the work of organisational health expert Patrick Lencioni and the ideas raised in his book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable’ are a great indicator to you of where you might be pushing the wrong buttons!

According to Lencioni, there are five basic dysfunctions that teams commonly struggle with. These cause confusion, misunderstanding, negative morale and can impact entire organisations. He identifies and explains each dysfunction and how to overcome them in order to become a more cohesive, highly functioning team. And even though we have our own high performing team assessment tools, we feel this is a really good starting point for a conversation.


Dysfunction 1: Absence of trust

Lencioni believes teamwork starts with trust – and the way to build trust is to come from a place of vulnerability.

He explains that showing vulnerability, admitting your mistakes or weaknesses, is the way to build trust. This is because trust, according to Lencioni, is a psychological state where you can show and accept vulnerability based on the positive expectation of the behaviour of another. It’s like saying, ‘I’m okay with you, and I know I can be vulnerable and I’m still going to be okay’. It’s the knowledge that others will accept you for who you are and the diversity you bring. It’s knowing that you don’t have to put up defence mechanisms because you can speak your truth without fear of being cut down.

As a people leader, you need to lead by example. This might be hard but, for example, when things aren’t going well in the team, you could say, ‘I’m struggling with X and I need support in the form of Y.’ This will encourage others to follow suit and help build trust, arguably the most important structure within any team.

Dysfunction 2: Fear of conflict

Without trust, people don’t voice their opinion for fear of creating conflict. And healthy conflict is constructive. So, when people agree or avoid committing because to do so would create conflict, the result is that productivity is stifled. Though conflict does have a loaded energy to it, it’s important to remember that it is okay. It’s how you deal with conflict that builds strength within the team.

The opportunity here is to encourage and embrace diversity of thought, values and ways of operating. One strategy is to demand that everyone weighs into a decision and shares their opinion and as a leader, we strongly suggest you encourage this. Remember to present your opinion last, because when leaders go first, team members often just follow suit rather than say what they really think. Everyone has something to contribute and your job as a leader is to expect it, mine for it, go in and dig deep.

Dysfunction 3: Lack of commitment

This is when people agree on the surface but don’t really commit to a decision. They don’t feel safe to have their say and want to preserve harmony. It shows up through lack of clarity and buy-in which stops the team making decisions that stick. Robust discussion and solid, clear decision-making processes will help the team support commitment.

By now you should be able to see how each of these dysfunctions builds on the previous one. If there’s lack of trust, team members are more likely to fear the conflict that voicing their opinions might bring. They’re much more likely to buy into a decision when they’ve had their say, but if there’s no debate, their opinions aren’t included in the decision-making process. When everyone is heard and views are respected, transparent decisions are more easily reached. It’s about clarity and as a leader, you must seek it, create it and communicate it.

Dysfunction 4: Avoiding accountability

The best and most high performing teams are where individuals hold one another to account. When people feel uncomfortable having the difficult conversation or holding somebody to account, the team won’t function well. Again, it starts with you as a people leader. Your team must see you leading the charge, catching that red flag early, not letting things go.

As you’re reading this post, ask yourself what you’re avoiding because it’s uncomfortable. What’s that difficult conversation you’re not having? People want to do their best and difficult conversations generally go better than we expect. We need to confront difficult issues, knowing that when built on a foundation of trust, commitment and clarity, holding each other accountable will help everyone and the overall good of the team.

Dysfunction 5: Inattention to results

It’s natural for people to put their own needs first. But when they’re too busy pursuing their own objectives, the team doesn’t get what it needs to succeed. As the people leader, you need to be clear about collective goals and the importance of results. Make sure you talk about them, measure them, acknowledge and reward members for working towards them. When there’s trust, discussion and accountability, the team will be strong, motivated and committed to achieving group objectives.

A worthwhile pursuit

If you recognise these patterns within your team, it might come as a relief to know they’re universal and can be overcome. Remember, they’re all connected and the key is to start by building a strong foundation of trust. Following that, encourage healthy conflict, maintain accountability and set clear objectives communicating with clarity all the way. It might not be easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Martin Rafe Join the Dots