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3 Ways For Leaders To Mobilize Insight And Self-Awareness

Written by: Maureen Adams, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Success in business is often judged on action and results rather than insight. Yet when we have insight, we can make better decisions that will move our business and teams forward. Through self-awareness, we can understand ourselves better and identify areas where we need to improve or adjust. Insight and self-awareness are therefore, essential skills for running a successful business.

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Nevertheless, these skills are not always easy to develop. They require self-honesty and a willingness to look at all aspects of our personality.

According to Aristotle, 'knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.'

Why Insight and Self-awareness are Important

Insight allows us to think critically about different aspects of our business, such as operations, team dynamics, customer needs, etc., so we can make informed decisions on how to move forward. It is the 'aha' moment in coaching when we seem to find the solution out of the blue.

Self-awareness allows us to be in touch with our emotions in a given situation. It enables us to tune with our strengths and weaknesses to address any areas that need improvement or development. We can identify our personal strengths and weaknesses and potential growth opportunities.

But importantly, insight combined with self-awareness allows us to reach across obstacles to communication and find a resonance or connection with others. Collaborative leaders know the power of 'we' rather than 'I' and harnessing insight in that process will guarantee momentum.

This is what makes it transformational.

How to Develop Insight and Self-Awareness

1. The first step towards gaining insight is deciding what you are seeking to understand, change or transform. Part of this will involve gathering data from different sources. This could include talking to your team members, customers, stakeholders, and industry professionals or conducting market research, but gathering data is not enough in itself. Once you have collected all the necessary information, it's time to review it carefully so you can gain a deeper understanding of the situation.

Because you are not just gathering data, you are gathering emotional intelligence. You need to provide an opportunity for individuals to learn new ways of thinking about themselves, their teams, and the wider organization.

Handled well, individuals can explore different perspectives they may not have considered before and open up conversations on topics they may otherwise avoid discussing in the workplace. This type of exploration encourages growth, both personally and professionally.

2. As a leader it's helpful to ask for feedback from those you work with, to understand how you are perceived. One way to develop this skill is by asking for feedback from colleagues who know you well. The more diverse the group, the better, as you are seeking views representative of your business community.

360-degree feedback is just part of the mix and not the only solution. But it does give an overview of what is working and what might need to be reviewed.

You may feel you know yourself well, so you may not notice situations in which you feel triggered or a tendency to respond in a habitual way to challenges, situations, or even individuals.

3. Setting clear goals for yourself in your actions and responses can help you develop a greater sense of self-awareness over time. It means you are not simply operating on an intellectual basis but recognizing the power in the message and the communication of that message. This can be very powerful.

For instance, if you dive into action too early when a problem is presented, you may miss opportunities to take a broader view or access information held by others. It's not just gathering 'big data' but making meaning out of the information presented. So, taking a step back and resisting that trigger to resolve the problem immediately can open up alternative possibilities.

Or if you respond negatively to an individual because they remind you of someone you found difficult in your life, it will be hugely beneficial to observe your reaction and alter it.

Executive coaching can help people improve relationships at work by recognizing their patterns of behaviour and how these can be altering these can positively impact relationships.

How Coaching Can Help

Executive coaching has become a popular tool for managers in many fields to help develop a better understanding of themselves and those around them. An internal coach knows the context and can add real value. An external coach provides independence, an external focus, and a range of tools and techniques tried and tested in other organizational contexts.

In addition to helping build self-awareness, coaches collaborate with teams on broader issues such as stress management, team dynamics, intent and purpose, and reflective practice in achieving goals.

The ability of executive coaching to encourage curiosity within the individual allows people to assess their leadership style and their relationships with others.

It encourages individuals to understand the impact that their decisions have on overall organizational goals, which leads to better decision-making processes.

Creating an Effective Environment for Growth

If you want to create an environment where growth and progress can be achieved within an organization, then you will need to mobilize the power of both insight and self-awareness in yourself and your team. Managers who understand themselves and those around them will be better equipped with the understanding needed for making informed decisions that will positively impact everyone involved in a project or process.

Working with an executive coach will help teams develop strategies that improve productivity and foster collaboration across the organization to reach common goals.

Executive coaching is a powerful tool for business leaders looking for ways to increase their insight and self-awareness while fostering collaboration among colleagues and building and binding their teams to the collective purpose.

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Maureen Adams, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Maureen Adams is an Executive Career Coach based in the UK. She works with ambitious senior professionals and leaders, facing complex challenges to have an impact at personal and organizational levels. As an experienced director herself, she has walked the path and helped others not only realize their potential through growth and change but to find their zest and redesign their lives. Maureen is the Founder of Cumulus Coaching UK.



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