When it comes to advancing our careers or developing the talent potential of those around us, we spend most of our energy learning hard skills, seeking experience in new projects, or setting ourselves SMART goals that stretch our capabilities. What is commonly overlooked however, is learning how to better understand ourselves and those around us.
Our ability to recognize and pay attention to our actions, thoughts, and feelings, and their impact on our performance, is critical for career success and leadership effectiveness. Without this aptitude, we are doomed to experience confusion, ineffective decisions, and miscommunication. The competency every professional in the modern workforce needs to develop is self-awareness.
Most people think that they are self-aware, but the reality is much different. One large scale survey found that only 10-15% of professionals are self-aware. This means 90% of people do not accurately understand how their behaviors positively or negatively impact those around them, or influence their chances of building a successful career.
Whether you’re an individual contributor or senior executive, optimizing how you communicate, relate and work with others is absolutely foundational to career success, even more so than hard skills. There are numerous examples of technically brilliant individuals who lacked self-awareness and created toxic cultures, derailed their organizations, and were simply impossible to work with.
Self-awareness is your workplace superpower
Becoming self-aware is easier said than done, and requires constant focus, attention and effort. The earlier in your career that you can get accurate feedback on your behavior and reputation, the more time you have to learn new behaviors that are going to help you get that promotion, achieve a challenging goal, or overcome an unforeseen obstacle.
The good news is that everyone can learn to become more aware of their actions and their impact on those around them. Studies show that receiving feedback that heightens your self-awareness improves your leadership skills. Self-awareness also facilitates career success as you become more rewarding to work with, more considerate, and have a deeper sense of how your behaviors shape the emotions of those around you. It also boosts your resilience and ability to tolerate stress, work collaboratively, and navigate uncertainty.
Developing your talent potential
The journey to developing self-awareness starts with feedback. Specifically, feedback on your personality. This is because our personality shapes so much of how we work. In fact, scientific studies have drawn empirical connections between the Big Five personality traits (Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Emotional Stability) and key competencies such as job performance, leadership effectiveness, and teamwork. Such personality characteristics also predict our tendency to engage in office politics, cheating, and bullying.
To develop one’s talent potential, that is an individual’s ability to perform and thrive in a given role, they should receive unbiased feedback into their personality. From there, individuals can gain an accurate understanding of their behavior, how it shapes their work, and ultimately, reveal blindspots that they are not paying attention to. Armed with this insight, they can then set SMART goals and develop personalized development plans that change their personality and grow the right soft skills.
When it comes to personality assessments, most people think of quizzes like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Enneagram, or Predictive Index’s Behavioral Assessment. The challenge with these surveys is that they are not built upon reliable and valid scientific frameworks, such as the Five Factor Model of personality (also known as the “Big Five"). Rather than describing personality types, this scientific approach to measuring and delivering personality feedback, views behavior as the result of traits — diverse continuums representing a broad array of different behaviors.
Given that the act of becoming self-aware, really means becoming aware of one’s personality, it is critical that when personality assessments are used, they are delivering accurate and reliable information. Otherwise it would be like sailing a ship without a compass. You won’t know if you’re heading in the right direction or working on the right objectives.
Using personality assessments to develop employees
Personality assessments are commonly used as a tool to kickstart most coaching or mentoring programs, particularly at the senior leadership level. This is because psychometric personality assessments can help both the employee and the coach or mentor get an accurate picture of an individual’s behavioral strengths and limitations. Subsequent interventions are built around bolstering these strengths and closing identified gaps.
Unfortunately, most of this activity is confined to the top of the organization. Expensive assessment tools and the accompanying executive coach that is required to decode complex personality feedback reports, means 90% of professionals never get to receive unbiased feedback that would heighten their self-awareness and increase their chances of career success.
Fortunately, tools like our Core Drivers Diagnostic and DynaMo integrate quick user experience, the most valid psychometric measurements, and modern technology to provide everyone with robust personality insights that sustain self-awareness and behavioral change. This means that everyone in the organization — from the shop floor to the C-Suite — can get the feedback they need to thrive at work. Powered by the Deeper Signals Platform, users can then set themselves performance goals that are aligned with their personality profile and develop new competencies.
If you want to start growing self-awareness in your employees and teams, schedule a time to chat with our solutions team. Helping your colleagues become more self-aware is difficult, but with targeted efforts and scientifically-informed behavioral insights, you can help your colleagues learn new soft skills, change their personality, and increase their ability to thrive in their roles and careers.