Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards. If you’re highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behaviour or with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you.

The best leaders cultivate leadership wisdom by taking time to reflect on their experiences to gain insights they can apply to new challenges.

Discovering our ‘genius’ – what we are truly talented at – is not easy for most people. So as a leader, manager or parent, how can we support the people, we wish to develop, to discover their ‘genius’?

We suggest that we can ask good questions to stimulate some reflective thinking and growth of their self-awareness:

– “When do you feel energised?”

– “When do you feel fully engaged in an activity?”

– “When does time ’fly’ for you?”

– “What do you find easier to do, than others?”

Based upon the answers to the above questions, you can follow-up with some further questions – to dive deeper:

– “What elements of the task(s) provides the positive energy?”

– “Why do you think you enjoy it so much?”

– “What don’t you enjoy?”

– “Is there a link/theme between the two – what energises and de-energises you?”

– “How can you further develop/advance the positive things (‘your genius’) further in your job/career?”

The above questions can be woven into a ‘catch-up’, possibly to provide some positive feedback, or during a six-monthly appraisal. The questions will show that you care for their development, and quite possibly, some ‘ah-huh’ moments will result that can help them to get closer to discovering their ‘genius’.

Addressing blind spots and increasing self-awareness have long been seen as positives for individuals. 

Leaders with higher self-awareness not only have greater job satisfaction and commitment to their employer personally, but that effect also appears to trickle down to a manager’s direct reports. 

In the constant drive for competitive advantage, it turns out that helping employees to better understand themselves and fostering a culture of healthy feedback could also help to improve a business’s overall performance.  

Despite its close association with high performance, self-awareness is generally in short supply, but can be developed in leaders.


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