Ever find yourself just going through the motions at work and trying to make it to the end of the day? Well, you are definitely not alone, and while sticking to your daily routine is not a bad thing, operating without consciousness and awareness can hinder the effectiveness of your leadership, and your ability to become the best version of yourself.
Here at The Conscious Leadership Company (TCLC for short), we aim to help leaders turn their autopilot setting off and lead in a conscious, intentional way. To help them do this we have developed a framework that is based on the five pillars of conscious leadership. One of these five pillars is awareness and the idea of being “awake” to self-understanding, staying connected to what is going on inside and around you, and recognising the beliefs that drive your behaviour. Below we have outlined common consequences of not leading with awareness and ways to become more “awake” in the workplace.
Not understanding Strengths and Weaknesses
When we just stick to our work routines and operate with the mindset of trying to get done as much as possible before the day ends, we can develop a lack of understanding about ourselves, and our strengths and weaknesses. This becomes a problem as it can lead to missed opportunities for growth and development. Simply put, if you are unaware of your weaknesses, how can you work on them? If you are unaware of your strengths, how do you develop them? Additionally, if you do not have an awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses, it is unlikely that you will be able to help guide your team members with regard to theirs.
So how can we become more aware of our strengths and weaknesses and actively work on them? It starts with showing up in a healthy way and developing our self-knowledge and awareness. Self-knowledge can be defined exactly as it sounds and includes any knowledge regarding your own motives, character, mental states, and processes. It is crucial for leaders to expand these skills as it helps them gain an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses and what does and doesn’t work in their organisations.
A powerful tool used to illustrate how you can improve your own self-knowledge and awareness is the Johari Window model. Pictured below, this model contains four different sections, each representing knowledge and the varying degrees it is visible to ourselves and others.
Source: World of Work Project
This section contains knowledge you know about yourself, and others know about you as well. (Examples of this section of knowledge include behaviours, attitudes, feelings, experience, skills, etc.)
Blind Spot:This section contains knowledge about yourself that is unknown to you, but is known to others. (Because others can see things about ourselves that are not evident to us, this section represents the areas we should ask for feedback on.)
This section contains knowledge you know about yourself, but others don’t know about you. (Examples of this section include sensitivities, fears, secrets, etc.)
This section contains knowledge about yourself, but it is unknown to you and others. (Examples of this section include capacities, aptitudes, feelings, behaviours, etc.)
Using the Johari Window model as a resource can improve awareness within the workplace and shed light on key areas you may need to work on. It promotes self-reflection and the importance of staying connected to your thoughts and emotions. The Johari Window model also encourages the practice of asking for feedback. Whether it comes from your superiors or your team members, this feedback can provide valuable information regarding your strengths and can alert you to weaknesses you may not have been aware of, giving you the chance to work on them and move towards a healthy, more conscious environment.
Not Recognising Biases Within the Workplace
In addition to affecting understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses, leading without awareness can keep us from recognising the biases we have and the way we portray them. We all have our own biases, it’s what makes us unique, when you are aware of them (conscious bias) and understand where they come from you can see the impact they may have on others, on performance, and on the overall culture of your organisation.
With this in mind, it is important to be careful of unconscious biases and how they may come across. An unconscious bias can form automatically, without us knowing, and influence our decision-making. A good example of this is known as the horns effect. This bias can cause us to have a negative impression of someone based on a single trait or experience we have shared with them. This can lead to unfair judgments regarding their character.
Changing these biases takes a lot of effort and they must be tackled on a conscious level. The first step often being identifying that you have a bias. Once that has been established a conscious, “awake” leader, will acknowledge the need to alter the way they think about a specific topic in order to change the biases they have developed. They will act with humility, knowing that there is always room for improvement and they are not perfect. Though this may be easier said than done when leaders work to eliminate these biases they contribute to a healthier work environment for everyone involved.
Developing Unhealthy Habits
A big risk to not leading with awareness and just going about your day is developing unhealthy habits. Habits can be formed without knowing and are often just the result of actions repeated over and over again. Ideally, we all strive to create habits and routines that promote a productive, healthy work environment, but when we simply go through the motions of our day and repeat actions that turn into habits, they may not serve us in the long term.
Similar to the point around strengths and weaknesses, we can miss out on realising our full potential when we do not recognise our habits. Habits that we continue to have because we are too busy or tired to make the change can be detrimental. Many of us experienced this during the lock-down and might still be living with habits we formed then. Creating healthy, work and home habits requires a level of awareness and effort that can be difficult to consistently achieve. Start reworking the way you think about something and break the “positive” connection you think you have with completing that action.
While it may be difficult in the beginning, it can take a few months to change a habit, actively working to create healthier habits benefits everyone. Being intentional as a leader has become essential, now more than ever, and if we focus on people and performance in the right way and promote awareness, healthier work environments will follow.
If you’d like to become more “awake” and be a better leader, we’ve got the tools to help you. Our UCL validated Conscious Leader psychometric gives you a real-time view of how you’re doing as a leader. At the same time, our Consciously app is a digital learning and well-being platform that helps you build self-awareness and take time to reflect.