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Know Yourself to Know Your Employee

Self and social awareness are key leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills

Of all the leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills required by managers and leaders in the modern business environment, self-awareness may be the most important – and least learned. While the advantage of knowing yourself is not a modern concept, the advantage it gives when seeking to influence, inspire, and motivate others is in the infancy of discovery.

For example, in 2017 a study in Germany titled ‘Know thyself to understand others’ revealed that those who underwent perspective (self-awareness) training were more in tune with their inner self – and better able to identify their own behaviors, thoughts, values and beliefs more easily. It was discovered that this greater self-awareness went hand in hand with a greater awareness of others. In other words, improving self-awareness leads to improving social awareness.

Why is self-awareness important for good leadership?

The best leaders have a deep understanding of their personal strengths and weaknesses. They know their limitations and are aware of how they are viewed by others.

Without this self-awareness, leaders are prone to making mistakes. They may become overconfident and take on tasks unsuited to their skillset. Conversely, those who have little appreciation for their own strengths will be less confident. This lack of confidence is likely to manifest itself in difficulty to inspire and motivate, and a reticence to delegate tasks for which others are better qualified.

When you have a good sense of your personal strengths and weaknesses, you become more empathetic and compassionate towards others; but your sense of accountability does not diminish. You will be viewed as authentic – an essential quality when you wish to inspire, and key to effective communication within organizations aspiring to outperform in today’s VUCA market.

Why is social awareness important for good leadership?

Your employees want to know that you care, and that you will have their backs in a crisis. Being the boss who jumps in and helps out in a crisis is an important quality, but understanding individual motivators and behavioral patterns is equally essential.

The desire to learn something about your employees and relate to them personally (while maintaining professionalism) is imperative. It shows that you are a leader who cares about your organization and your people. When you are willing to go the extra mile for your employees, they will do the same for you.

Social awareness gives leaders a perspective on how others feel, their concerns, and their needs. It is defined by being empathetic, recognizing needs, helping others develop, and developing meaningful relationships that inspire engagement and loyalty. With high social awareness, you will understand how to lead a culturally diverse organization and leverage the benefits of diversity within the workplace.

In conclusion, to employ the correct subsets of leadership communication and interpersonal skills, you must know your employees. You must be able to understand what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and the role of emotion in interpersonal communication. The starting point for all of this is enhanced self-awareness, for only by knowing thyself can you hope to truly know your employees.

Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective leadership communication and interpersonal skills, and ensure that your leaders and managers are fully prepared to inspire and motivate.

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