Our work with families and business owners involves a lot of self-awareness exercises. There are a number of excellent tools that can provide you with data about who you are, what your preferences and tendencies are, and how you interact with others. The challenge is what you do with this information once you have it.
Self-awareness is just that. You know more about yourself. However, I would argue that it is useless unless you do something with it. I know a few people who have taken many courses and done various personality assessments only to fail to actually implement any useful change.
Your employee cries during a difficult conversation and you stonewall. You yell at a colleague who made a mistake that cost the company a lot of time and money. You share a confidence about another staff member with someone else in the office without even thinking about it until after. We all have our strengths, and we have those parts of ourselves that we wish we could wave a magic wand to change.
One key to success as a leader is taking this information and going a step further, into self-moderation. Self-moderation is the “avoidance of extremes, especially in one’s behavior”. It’s learning how to develop your other tendencies so that you don’t react in the way you typically would when someone comes to you crying, or provokes you into an argument. Someone cries, you hand them a tissue and empathize with them until they are calmer. Instead of yelling, you take a walk and come back feeling more level-headed. You walk away from a conversation and keep sensitive information to yourself. Essentially, you make a conscious choice to behave differently.
Sounds simple, however, we all know that it’s not. Behavioural change requires desire to make a change, and tools to support. Working with a professional coach works for some people, who have a need to be held accountable and be challenged to move forward with their goals. Some people may use a “reminder”, such as a stress ball, a photo of a relaxing landscape, or a reminder of an old boss they had that was not skilled at self-moderation.
The best way to moderate your own behaviour is to understand your employees and colleagues better, and to have constant reminders of their preferences, and what they need from you. Then you can adjust your style to gain more influence and confidence with them. Someone who needs a lot of data and time to think things through would appreciate being sent meeting documents ahead of time with a clear question you would like them to respond to. A person who resists change needs to understand what is coming and how it will affect them. A team member who needs public recognition would benefit from you saying “thank you” or “good job” at the team meeting.
When working with your team, it is also important to recognize your tendencies, be open to feedback about things you do that may not be very motivating, and be willing to apologize and try again.
Resources that you may be interested in looking into if this topic interests you:
Nicky Scott, BComm, CHRP, FEA
Canadian Family Financial
Nicky can be reached at email@example.com