A key challenge for all leaders today is to be consistent in their leadership behaviour and decision making.

A key challenge for all leaders today is to be consistent in their leadership behaviour and decision making. This is an important factor in building and maintaining the trust of their people. They also need to be role models of the leadership behaviour identified as critical for giving life to the desired culture that will deliver the expected results.

Central to being able to exercise conscious control over their behaviour as leaders is having a good level of self-knowledge. That means reducing the “blind spot” and “unknown” areas of their personal Johari Window. Developing not only greater awareness of their strengths and areas for development but also greater awareness of their potential.

There are two main routes to achieving this. Through self-reflection or through feedback from others.

There are different models for facilitating self–reflection. A simple one to use is the Situation - Behaviour - Impact Model. This is used quite often as a performance feedback model but can be very useful in exploring my own behaviour.

Take time to reflect on:
1. In that situation (what were the factors in play in the situation?),
2. I used this behaviour (what did you actually do?), and
3. It produced this impact (What effect did you behaviour have on the people impacted? On you? How do I know what impact I achieved? Did I ask the other person(s)? Was it the impact that I wanted to have?)

Using this type of process to reflect on important situations and interactions means that we become more self-aware. This equips us to make more conscious choices on how we behave.

Taking it to a deeper level – how often do I take time out to reflect on my mood? What am I feeling at different times? How often do I consciously connect with my emotions? They are influencing my behaviour but am I aware of what they are? Do I consciously make an effort to be aware of my emotions and explore why I am feeling as I am? What triggers should I be aware of that lead me to automatically behave in particular or habitual ways? Is it good or bad and what might I do about it?

Making time to reflect on my emotional state and what triggers emotional reaction in me also contributes to increased self-awareness. This can enable anticipating when some unhelpful emotions or behaviours are triggered and give me greater conscious choice and control of how I react.

Using a preference feedback tool
The second route to developing more conscious self-knowledge is to use a validated feedback tool to provide personal feedback. The world of feedback tools has expanded rapidly in the last 20 years. By that I mean that there have been many new additions based on different models that provide personal insight on self and own behaviour. What I find great is that the newer feedback tools provide different types of insight. This suggests matching the instrument to the individual need may be more useful in personal development than having one blanket instrument that is applied to all people. The second thing that is also a great development is that the newer tools are able to provide a richer and more personal feedback.

Harrison Assessments is a good example, it provides the opportunity for a leader to understand their core drivers in terms of traits that they have a strong preference for using. This opens the door to reflecting on how well they are satisfied in the person’s current role and the implications of that. To add to this the Traits and Definitions Report also provides a hierarchy or preference on a wide range of traits (chosen based on their value in the workplace). This allows the discussion of the patterns emerging and the implications for the person’s preferred behaviour. The attractiveness of this is that it provides more detail and more depth to explore than other instruments. The behaviour patterns also open the door to reflection on the implications for success in different roles and different aspects of work from collaborating across the organisation, to approach to decision making, to communication, to delegating, etc. For example some pieces of feedback from recent subjects:
• “Strong sides and development areas spot on. I learned a lot as well – things I did not realize before. Also explaining some of the hesitation towards the team manger role.”
• “The Life Themes are a very good analysis of motivation/core needs and the difference to present boss is very clear regarding this.”

A strong additional benefit of Harrison Assessments is the Paradox Graph report which provides a unique perspective of seeming opposites and highlights for the person where they may de-rail under pressure or stress and what form that derailment may take.

These tools open up a new paradigm of self-discovery that is valuable for every leader. They bring into awareness things that we may not have had a full conscious awareness of, or crystallize in sharp relief things that we were vaguely aware of but could not quite put our finger on. You can discover some of your blind spots and unknown areas using Harrison Assessments.

Through feedback from others
Feedback from others is a very rich source of feedback for helping us explore and illuminate our blind spots.

Feedback from a trusted colleague
Having the opportunity to listen openly to a trusted colleague telling us what they appreciate about the way we do things and what they consider we might think about doing differently is an excellent way to explore both our strengths and our blind spots and increase our self-knowledge. Again in this context the use of a model, such as Situation – Behaviour – Impact, provides a framework for managing the feedback in a structured way.

180°/360° or Multi-rater instrument
This is another valuable way of gathering feedback in a structured way from the people we work with. It quickly brings together a wide range of individual perspectives and provides a valuable overview. It helps us to explore how our behaviour in practice matches up with our expected leadership role modelling. Are we behaving as we say everybody is supposed to behave to deliver the culture and results?

I don’t need feedback 
The greatest challenge is always the individuals who consider that they don’t need feedback. “I already know myself, there is nothing anybody else can tell me.” There are particular personality types that are relatively closed to feedback. Two of the options discussed above are ways to knock on the closed door.

A self-completed feedback tool is more difficult to argue with as it is the individual’s own choices being fed back. Here the careful choice of which tool can provide the platform for knocking on the closed door and entering the feedback discussion in a non-confrontational way.

A 180° or 360° report where the respondents are comfortable being honest and the organisation has a maturity in being able to give feedback is another way to knock on the closed door. The combined weight of opinions can be the element to open the person to hearing the feedback.

At PPI Network we can bring to you:

  1. On line application and de-briefing of selected feedback tools to kick start personal development. It can be as a stand-alone process with a couple of coaching sessions or it can also be part of a larger coaching experience.
  2. A bespoke 360° on line instrument and report. Tailored to the organisation values and desired leadership behaviours it will provide valuable quantitative and qualitative feedback for the individual leader.

Should you want to find out more contact Gerry Buckley at gbuckley@theppinetwork.com.

Self awareness

About the Author

Gerry Buckley

Gerry Buckley

Gerry Buckley is a Managing Partner of Performance Plus International (PPI) and a founding member of the PPI Network. He has a depth of experience in management development and training built up over many years, initially in Ireland, then in Africa and for the last 25 years in Europe based in Belgium.