Mindful leadership: How to cultivate self-awareness08 Oct 2019
Cultivating self-awareness involves looking critically at your own actions and thought processes. Doing so allows you to identify your natural tendencies, and how these may impact your ability to lead mindfully.
What does self-awareness mean?
Self-awareness is a deep understanding of what makes you who you are. This may include being aware of your thought processes or natural abilities.
According to Positive Psychology, two psychologists who talked about self-awareness back in the 1970s described it as being able to evaluate your behaviour and relate it to the moral standards you hold. It's about becoming more consciously attentive to how you act.
As a result, self-awareness is closely related to self-control. Part of the process of being self-aware is reflecting on what you notice about yourself, acknowledging and accepting yourself but also seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
The importance of self-awareness at work
Self-awareness is a trait that top executives commonly possess. Today's leaders are expected to be exceptional performers and to encourage excellence amongst their employees.
However, the only way they can truly improve is by being able to identify their weaknesses and work to resolve them. In fact, when I've worked with leaders who are unable to emotionally read themselves or others, I've considered them closed to new ideas and less proficient in effecting innovating and change.
In the same way, leaders who I feel are well aware of their abilities are always open to team collaboration. I respect their abilities but also their honesty. With that, I trust their leadership and choose to work hard to support their objectives. I think they also exercise better judgement because they can analyse feedback and ideas more objectively.
Honesty on the part of leaders also creates a much calmer environment for them and their employees.
In my mind, this kind of acceptance and honesty on the part of leaders also creates a much calmer environment for them and their employees. They know what is realistic and lead accordingly.
How to cultivate self-awareness in your workplace
A nearly five-year study by the Harvard Business Review found that almost 95 per cent of people consider themselves self-aware. However, the research also found that only 10-15 per cent of us actually are.
So, what can you do to truly develop self-awareness?
1) Practice mindfulness
Jon Kabat-Zinn, and American professor known for his work in mindfulness defines it as "paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally."
Being self-aware requires you look inwards, and this in itself is a skill that needs practise in order to be effective. Your first objective is to learn to pay attention to your own thoughts, emotions and actions. Then, you can determine what this means in terms of your personal development.
2) Learn to listen
As you start to observe yourself, do the same with others. Listen fully when your employees talk to you. Don't formulate your response before you've digested what they've said. Read their body language and emotions as well as listening to their words to really understand what they're communicating.
This will enhance your ability to read and regulate your own actions, and then to lead with emotional intelligence.
3) Seek feedback from colleagues
Whether we like it or not, we all have personal biases to some extent. These biases effect how you perceive your actions.
Finding out what your colleagues observe about you gives you vital information about how accurate your own perceptions are. You'll learn plenty about you come across to others and what your key areas for development should be.
Working with professionals to improve mindfulness at work
ICML's 'Mindfulness at Work' course provides essential techniques that are easy-to-learn and available to people of all levels and abilities. As a trusted provider of workplace training, ICML run in-house courses across Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and all major Australian cities. Talk to us today about our wide range of courses.