Your Lack of Self-Awareness is Expensive

Self-Awareness – noun: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Michael Scott was America’s funniest oblivious boss.

And for those who never watched The Office, he was the usually well intentioned boss, often rude, and extra inappropriate boss America loved to laugh at.

Part of what made him so funny was how easy it was to relate to his complete lack of self-awareness. He amplified the flaws of our own oblivious managers. 

But here is the hard truth: Your former boss isn’t the only one who struggles with gaps in their self-awareness, so do you! (And so do I!)

Lacking self-awareness is expensive. It leads to managers and founders spending time trying to fix the wrong problems. 

Here are a few common symptoms of the “Oblivious Boss Syndrome”:

  • Overconfidence
  • Lack of development
  • Constantly making excuses
  • Defensive when given feedback
  • Struggling with time management

In my podcast with Christine Carrillo, she estimated that 80% of the executives she works with completely lack self awareness. This is a problem.

As the captain of the ship, you can’t guide your ship to its destination without first knowing your current location. So now we can all agree that lacking self-awareness is a problem for managers, but what do you do about it? Here are three places to start:

Close the Calendar Gap

Take a moment and think about your current role. 

How would you describe it? What are your priorities? How should you be spending your time while working?

Once you’ve created the prototype for your position, let’s look at your calendar. 

How are you actually spending your time?

Do you pride yourself on being a focused boss but actually spend most of your time distracted?

Do you feel aligned with your team without spending time to listen to their feedback and ideas? By aligning your actions with our intentions, you can create a business environment where the most important work is getting done and everyone feels heard, valued, and supported. 

Be radically open to feedback

One of my first issues of Leader’s Lens was focused on how much I hate Open Door Policies.

The problem with an open door policy is that it puts the burden on your employees to deliver you bad news. 

This might be especially challenging for founders who have never had a boss to understand, but walking into your manager’s office with bad news or critical feedback is not something most employees would include in their job description. 

Providing feedback to a leader can be uncomfortable for many people. But it is especially challenging when this feedback is unsolicited.

Instead, take the initiative to seek out feedback from your team.

Make it a recurring meeting. 

Start by asking them what is going well and what would make things even better. Get curious and seek to better understand the feedback. 

Do. Not. Get. Defensive.

Great leaders are RADICALLY open to feedback. 

🚩Getting defensive is only showing you lack self-awareness.🚩

After you’ve received feedback, take a moment to share your positive and constructive feedback to them.

Making this happen regularly will help you set the stage for a culture that is open to feedback, but only if you actually take the time to get curious about the feedback you receive. 🕶 If you’d like 10 questions to use in a 360 survey, send me a reply

Reflect and self-assess

“If you want to invest in your best, then you have to reflect and self assess.” – A sweet rhyme I just made up.

To become more self-aware you have to take time to think about why you do the things you do.

Take a moment and reflect on these questions:

  • What stresses you out?
  • When are you at your best?
  • What are your core values?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • What process do you use to make important decisions?

The answers to these questions will help you become better aligned with your goals and values.

There is also a lot of value in investing in Self-Assessments. 

They are not a perfect tool, but they can provide a lot of valuable insights into how you are wired and what you will need to be at your best.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This tool helps you understand your personality type along four dimensions: extroversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving. You can take the official assessment at the MBTI site (it’s a paid test), or a free version here.
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0 (CliftonStrengths): This tool is designed to identify what you naturally do best, learn more about your talents, and maximize your potential. You can take the test at the Gallup site (it’s a paid test).
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Test: Emotional intelligence is key to managing your behavior, navigating social complexities, and making personal decisions. You can take a free EQ test here.
  • DISC Assessment: The DISC model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and adapt their behaviors with others. You can take a free version here.
  • Enneagram Personality Test: The Enneagram is a system of nine personality types combining traditional wisdom with modern psychology – a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and the people in our lives. You can take a free version here.

Remember: These assessments can give you a deeper understanding of your traits and tendencies, aiding in self-awareness. However, they should not be used as the sole determinants of your behaviors or decision-making processes. They are tools to guide, not define you.

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit JacobEspinoza.com.

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