The Hidden Benefits of Self-Awareness in Leadership and Teamwork

Almost everyone thinks they’re self-aware.

According to research by Tasha Eurich, in reality, only 10-15% of people are self-aware from the perspective of knowing yourself, what’s important to you and recognizing how your words and actions impact those around you.

What may surprise you to know is how much having self-awareness impacts your team.

Alan Mulally who turned around the demise of Ford said “How far the team gets is completely dependent on the leader’s level of self-awareness.”

While there are many definitions of self-awareness, the one I find most practical comes from VeryWellMind.

“Self-awareness is your ability to perceive and understand the things that make you who you are as an individual, including your personality, actions, values, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts.”

 Here are (5) examples of why knowing yourself improves your leadership and team performance.

  1. Teams led by self-aware leaders are more productive than those with less self-aware leaders
  2. When leaders commit to confronting their flaws while also striving to improve, their team is motivated to do the same.
  3. Research in social learning reveals followers tend to imitate the attitudes and behaviors of their leaders.
  4. Teams that have high psychological safety (the ability to admit mistakes, ask for help etc.) perform better because of their high levels of self-awareness.
  5. Being on a team with just one unaware person cuts the team’s chances of success in half, and unaware bosses hurt their employee’s job satisfaction, performance, and well-being.

Source: Insight: The Surprising truth about how others see us, how we see ourselves, and why the answers matter more than we think.

Most people feel a sense of shame and embarrassment when they either admit their flaws, shortcomings, or mistakes, or they are pointed out to them.

As we often refer to my blogs, our family upbringing influences us in many ways, including the degree to which it was okay in your family to be vulnerable about flaws, shortcomings, or mistakes without feeling like a failure.  

For example, some of my leadership coaching clients have told me in their family growing up, they were expected to get all A’s on their report card. Even if the majority of their report card were high marks, the focus was on the lower marks. The message they received was in order to be acceptable and loved, they had to be perfect.

Other leaders have told me they’re embarrassed to admit mistakes because in their family upbringing it was a sign of weakness. As a result they learned to be self-sufficient and asking for help isn’t an option.  

Today these same leaders struggle with delegation and sleepless nights filled with anxiety of how they’ll get everything on their to do list done.

Your action step: 

  1. Reflect on messages you received growing up about admitting mistakes or asking for help?
  2. What is a different way of looking at those messages? Here are a couple examples:
    • Asking for help is sign of strength, not weakness
    • Admitting mistakes means I’m human and gives my team permission to admit mistakes instead of covering them up out of fear of how I’ll respond
    • It’s okay to acknowledge things I’m not good at, it gives my employees an opportunity to contribute their skills and talents, and shine.

Self-awareness is a gamechanger to your leadership and team’s potential, what will you do today to develop it?

Encouraging your self-awareness,

Bonnie

PS For more help to develop your self-awareness and team performance! Book a strategy call with me and let’s talk about ways to elevate your leadership impact. 

About the author 

Bonnie Artman Fox, MS, LMFT works with executive leaders who want to gain self-awareness about the impact of their words and actions and up-level their interpersonal skills. 

Drawing from decades as a psychiatric nurse and licensed family therapist, Bonnie brings a unique perspective to equip executive leaders with the roadmap to emotional intelligence that brings teams together. 

Bonnie’s leadership Turnaround coaching program has an 82% success rate in guiding leaders to replace abrasive behavior with tact, empathy, and consideration of others. The end result is a happy, healthy, and profitable workplace…sooner vs. later.

Sources:

  1. Eurich, T. (2017). Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, and Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think. Crown. 
  2. Verywell Mind. (2022, March 23). What Is Self-Awareness? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-awareness-2795023

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