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Enabling teams to work better together

Self-awareness is where transformation to team effectiveness begins.


Did you know there are 2 types of self-awareness?

And that research has found virtually no relationship between them?


You can have high internal self-awareness of your own values, joys, strengths, stressors and needs.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll inherently have high external self-awareness, which is understanding how others shape their ideas about you and what matters to you.

High internal self-awareness correlates to elevated job and relationship satisfaction, happiness and social interaction enjoyment.

People with high external self-awareness are more empathetic, open to others’ perspectives, and attract more trust and confidence in their abilities.

So, why does having a high level of internal AND external self-awareness matter?

Feeling misunderstood, undervalued and unappreciated at work leads to frustration, disengagement and underperformance.

Tensions tighten. Paranoia pervades. Stress levels soar.

Mistakes and missed opportunities result from the poor decision-making of un-self-aware leaders and lemmings.


When we know and can articulate the values, joys, strengths, stressors and needs that matter to us, our team leader and workmates can help bring out our best selves.


When we recognise the different values, joys, strengths, stressors and needs that matter to the people we work with, we can self-moderate our responses to their behaviours.

This quote by clinical social worker Shelley Aronov-Jacoby sums it up beautifully:

“Having self-awareness gives us the power to influence outcomes; helps us become better decision-makers and gives us more self-confidence. We can communicate with clarity and intention, which allows us to understand things from multiple perspectives. It frees us from assumptions and biases.”

In Ray Dalio’s Principles, the billionaire hedge fund entrepreneur talks about the high level of self-awareness needed to make the best decisions; and that means embracing our realities, including our mistakes and weaknesses.

The #1 ‘must-have’ for leaders

Self-awareness – internal and external – is a key step towards recognising and valuing difference to achieve unity within a group of diverse personalities who are working together for a common purpose.

It’s one of the common domains of that leadership ‘must-have’: emotional intelligence (EI).

Whether you read about the 4, 5 or 12 elements of EI, self-awareness always appears on the top of the list (it’s still evolving since the Goleman and Johari models).

Organisational psychologist Tasha Eurich’s multi-year study (involving more than 5000 participants) found that while 95% of people believe they are self-aware about how they’re perceived, only 10-15% truly are.

Her research also revealed that self-awareness is lower among people with more power. That’s a worry!

It’s been more than 50 years since social psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund theorised this psychological concept in A Theory of Objective Self-Awareness.

They described it as:

 “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 behavior with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you.”

Although, a few thousand centuries ago the ancient philosophers nailed it with “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” (Lao Tzu) and  “Know Thyself” (Socrates).

More recently, a Harvard Business Review study by professors Erich Dierdorff and Robert Rubin found that un-self-aware colleagues can halve a team’s success prospects. They collected data from 300 leaders and 58 teams at a Fortune 10 company.

“For teams to perform effectively, each member must possess a combination of technical and interpersonal skills and constantly adjust their contributions to meet the team’s needs. Correctly understanding one’s capabilities relative to others is therefore paramount,” the researchers said.

Self-awareness is where the transformation to team effectiveness begins.

That’s why True Colors is based on a method of self-identifying values, joys, strengths, stressors and needs, then sharing the insights with the people we need to understand us.

Tasha Eurich suggests ‘find their humanity’ as one way to work with un-self-aware colleagues:

“As easy as it can be to forget, even the most unaware among us are still human. If we remember this, instead of flying off the handle when they’re behaving badly, we can recognize that, at the core, their unaware behavior is a sign that they are struggling. We can adopt the mindset of compassion without judgment.”

In my True Colors workshops we also look at recognising the stress signals that others send out, because our colleagues’ SOS (signs of stress) often look, sound and feel nothing like our own.

If you would like help exploring the effects felt in YOUR team when some people are not very self-aware…

And what you can do to improve how differences are valued…

Plus get better at recognising and responding to different stress signals…

Tap the button below to book a complimentary and unconditional Tell Me More call.

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