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Stress Management for Managers – the importance of being self-aware

Would you want to be one of those working for you?

A bit like the teacher who inspired you at school, people can usually name a boss who stands out from their others. Asked why, they may struggle to put the exact quality into words but often it’s due to that boss being self-aware and the essential qualities this brings to the workplace.

One definition of self-awareness is the “conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings”.  Naming your own strengths and developing them is the easy part, recognising your weaknesses can be a lot more difficult and uncomfortable.  Weaknesses aren’t just the areas you’re not so good at, they can also include your fears, suppositions and doubts.

People have much more confidence in a boss who doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t see it as a failure to say so, someone who may make mistakes but then takes responsibility for those mistakes and isn’t ashamed to ask for help.  If people see these qualities in their boss, they appreciate that they must be acceptable characteristics within that workplace which will bring benefits to the individual, team and organisation in terms of, for example, continual learning, productivity and adaptability to change.

4 Tips for becoming more self-aware

  1. Listen to others – don’t try to formulate your response while a team member is still speaking.  Instead, listen actively, to pick up not only what is being said but the emotion behind those words – which is sometimes more important.  By acknowledging their emotion, the team member will feel they have been heard, even when it concerns a situation which cannot be changed.
  2. Listen to yourself – how often have you thought you should have gone with your gut reaction when making a decision? Taking time to listen to yourself can help in different ways.  Sometimes it is your life experience which swings your decision once you’ve weighed up all the different options put forward.  On other occasions you need to be aware that you don’t let an unhelpful emotion take control and lead you to make an emotional decision rather than one based on the facts you’ve been presented with.
  3. Encourage feedback – openly ask for feedback from all and take it on board without immediately trying to justify or defend yourself (see listening to others above).  Reflecting quietly by yourself at a set time or at the end of a project/meeting is also valuable in terms of considering how people reacted to you and how you worked with or managed others.  If those providing feedback feel you are listening and taking it on board, they will feel trusted and much happier to provide open and honest feedback in the future, which will increase your credibility.
  4. Experience coaching – like many journeys, many find it helpful to have a guide.  A trained coach can help you become aware of your own behaviour and thinking patterns. They can help you see that it may be your negative inner feelings and conversations which are holding you back and how the power and choice to be aware of them and change them lies with you.

The concept of self-awareness is encompassed in several of our training courses, you can view our full list of training courses here.


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