Reject the thought that you’re self-aware. Odds are you don’t see yourself and you don’t see yourself as others see you either.
Dangers of self-blindness:
If you don’t see yourself, you can’t understand your impact on others.
- You think you’re nice, but you’re actually a bully.
- You struggle to understand another’s perspective.
- Everything is a competition.
- You unintentionally put people on the defensive.
- You aren’t the problem, others are.
- People seem to have over-the-top reactions to things you say.
- You struggle to enjoy achievements and honor the achievements of others.
How to develop self-awareness. Ask “what” not “why”.
What not why:
I’ve never been a fan of asking “why” questions. I think they’re dangerous. Yes, they’re important when it comes to purpose and root causes. But when it comes to self-awareness, they’re a roadblock.
Self-awareness doesn’t increase when you think about yourself and ask why. It increases when you focus on what to do.
“What” questions expedite growth. “Why” questions create black holes.
Recent research indicates that asking “why” questions are discouraging, distracting, and defeat the goal of growth. (HBR) *registration required.
A question like, “Why can’t I succeed with this team?” might feel like healthy self-reflection. But it’s depressing.
A better question is, “What might I do to move this team in the right direction?”
“Why” questions tend to turn your attention towards fear, shortcoming, or insecurities. Here’s an example from the HBR article.
“Instead of asking ‘Why did you say this about me?,’ Robin inquired, ‘What are the steps I need to take in the future to do a better job?’” (This is Robin’s response after receiving negative feedback from her team.)
3 ways to develop self-awareness:
- Seek and explore feedback.
- Practice taking the perspective of others.
- Listen and reflect. Don’t interrupt.
What happens when leaders aren’t self-aware?
How might leaders develop self-awareness?
*HBR, “What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It),” Tasha Eurich