Most of us believe in the value of growth and professional development.  We’ve taken self-assessments, we’ve attended professional development courses, we’ve considered feedback as well as learned from the rich moments that life has offered us.  These investments pay dividends because self-awareness is the foundation to developing greater emotional intelligence and leadership capacity. 

This awareness enables us to approach situations with care and candor if we continue to be “awake” and aware of ourselves as well as those we interact with.  And today’s leaders must demonstrate this in all of what they do.  But sometimes it can all be easier said than done especially when our guard is down, when we face a difficult situation or we simply don’t apply what we know.

Just this week, I observed an executive who sought out the ear of a colleague about a difficult work situation related to people behaviour.  His style is one that is expressive, someone who needs to talk things out in order to understand and gain insight.  According to Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, the developers of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, this executive likely demonstrated traits of an extravert, someone who often thinks out loud.  The colleague, who he knew well, had absolutely no interest in hearing about the situation and displayed complete disinterest.    This was not a “one of” scenario either as the colleague has consistently indicated their lack of interest to engage in discussions around people problem solving.  The executive has also consistently not observed the clues and did not check in with the colleague about their perceived disinterest.  He walked away from the scenario once again frustrated.

There are a few layers to this scenario but one take away is related to the importance of understanding our own style in a situation.  His style was one that needed to problem solve outwardly.   Talking things through can be a good thing especially with a trusted colleague.  He was not wrong.  But he did not recognize that his style was “taking over” and that the colleague for whatever reason was not willing to collaborate.   This relationship has once again become fractured, not a good outcome, as it’s like taking several steps back.

This story only relates to one element of self-awareness.  We possess a multitude of traits and utilize many of them to conduct our work and interact with others.  Self-awareness can be difficult at times especially in our fast-paced world with multiple demands and expectations.  It requires us to be self-are and able to adapt to scenarios and different styles.   But don’t give up.  Remember what you’ve learned and continue to learn.  It will ultimately be empowering and leverage your career. 

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