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Posted September 3, 2020

Self-awareness and what it means for business

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You’ve likely heard the phrase, “People don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.” It’s true for many of you. About 50% of all Americans have left a job at some point in their lives because of their manager. That means leadership is one of the most critical components of any successful business, especially when you consider the high cost of employee turnover

Encouraging the development of self-awareness across your entire workforce is one of the keys to developing effective leadership, according to Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and best-selling author. In this blog post and in this week’s Benefits Buzz, Eurich shares her insight on this often overlooked trait that might be the key to cultivating effective leadership at your business. 

What is self-awareness? 

Eurich defines self-awareness as “the will and skill to understand who you are internally and how others see you externally.” 

Internal self-awareness relates to our values and passions. External self-awareness can be related to how empathetic you are

The two types are independent of one another. For example, it’s possible to be internally self-aware of who you are while not having a firm grasp on how the outside world perceives you and your actions. 

The difference it makes in leadership

High self-awareness can influence an employee’s job satisfaction and create stronger bonds between employees and their leaders. Low self-awareness? Well, that’s when we start talking about the high cost of employee turnover again. 

Eurich said that the higher you are on the food chain, the less self-aware you tend to be. Why? “Power makes it difficult to get honest feedback,” she said. And when your employees, who often work closer to customers than their leaders do, aren’t comfortable sharing honest feedback, a host of issues for any business can emerge. 

For example, Eurich notes that customer service professionals with stronger self-awareness perform their jobs twice as effectively as those who struggle with self-awareness. That’s not surprising considering how important listening and collecting feedback are to the customer service experience. 

“Knowing is always better than not knowing,” Eurich said. 

What can you do to promote a self-aware culture?

Understanding is half the battle! While 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are

You can start by taking a self-awareness quiz. Eurich provides one on her website. After completing it, you’ll then seek a friend or co-worker’s feedback and then see the results. 

Buy-in is also an important part of promoting self-awareness. “If senior leaders aren’t modeling self-awareness, it’s going to be very difficult,” Eurich said. “The bottom line: There has to be an all-in commitment on the part of senior leaders.” 

Check out our latest episode of Benefits Buzz for more valuable insight on why self-awareness is so important in leadership and in business. 

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