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  • Keri Schwebius

Your employees are aware of what you do and say. You must be too.


They're watching you. No, not the Police (the band or the institution). Your employees are watching.


They’re watching what you do and what you say. They also understand how your behaviours affect them. If your employees are aware of this, you must be too.

There are two sides of self-awareness.


How we see ourselves

On one side of self-awareness is how we see ourselves. Do we understand our strengths and shortcomings? Do we know how to recognize and manage our emotions?

There are many ways to increase this area of self-awareness. We can do self-assessments like Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), EQi 2.0 (to measure emotional intelligence), CliftonStrengths Assessment, and a long list of other options. You can also take time to reflect on yourself and your life—what you enjoy, what you’re good at, how you feel—can help you clarify the characteristics, preferences and behaviours that make you uniquely you.


How others see us

On the other side is how we are viewed by others. This is a little more complicated because others can’t know what we’re thinking and feeling (unless we tell them). They can only observe our behaviours through their own lens. That lens has also been influenced by their life and experiences. What can happen, then, is that we may have the best intentions but the impact of our behaviours on others might be quite different from our intent.


We may have some understanding of the effect of our behaviours on others and we may also have blind spots. The best way to truly understand how others see us is to ask for feedback. This is particularly important for leaders. Leaders need to ask for feedback to make sure the things they are doing are helping employees be successful in their jobs, rather than hindering them.


The tricky part is that employees may not feel safe enough to offer honest feedback. Here are a few ways to ask that make it easier:

  • What am I doing that you would like me to continue?

  • What am I not doing that you think I should be doing?

  • Is there anything I should stop doing?

  • What do you need from me to help you do your job more effectively?

These questions ask about your behaviours as a leader verses your attributes as a human being, making it much more comfortable for employees to answer honestly.

Effective self-awareness is about strengthening both sides. Too much understanding of ourselves without understanding how others see us may make it difficult for us to play well with others. On the flip side, worrying too much about how others see us isn’t healthy either.


Want more? Here’s a great article from the Harvard Business Review

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