How to spark self-awareness in an oblivious leader

Each leader has some consideration they overlook at work—and for a lot of, it’s their very own habits. Most individuals suppose they’re self-aware, however less than 10% of us truly are. Leaders have a tendency to overestimate their effectiveness, and skilled leaders are sometimes more pronounced in this habits. Leaders are constantly praised and promoted all through their careers, so they might really feel like they’re invaluable firm belongings.

As a high-performance office coach, I as soon as labored with a leader who vehemently believed he collaborated along with his workers. When Monday conferences rolled round, he would pose a query to his staff and go across the desk for responses. He was at all times the primary to give his opinion and would grow to be irritable when individuals disagreed. After I pointed this out, he determined to acknowledge every particular person’s contribution by posting their solutions on a flip chart and reserving his ideas till the top.

On the subsequent assembly, he did write down different individuals’s concepts—however solely those he appreciated. When he disagreed with somebody’s response, he would merely transfer on to the subsequent particular person with out recording it. When the assembly was over, he summarized the concepts he appreciated. Some individuals would possibly mistake this for conceitedness, however he wasn’t the sort of leader who noticed what he was doing and easily didn’t care. As an alternative, he was totally oblivious to his tendency to shut down different individuals’s concepts.


This unaware habits isn’t simply annoying—many predict that the so-called smartest particular person in the room will probably be a legal responsibility reasonably than an asset in the close to future. If a leader doesn’t understand how to use the collective intelligence of his or her workers, it might consequence in poor engagement, excessive turnover, and dear errors. Listed here are 3 ways you may assist a leader with an analogous unawareness grow to be extra in contact:


If somebody in a management position studies to you, you’re in a novel place to provide constructive suggestions with out jeopardizing your job. And as somebody in an government position, your opinion is essential to that particular person—she or he is extra probably to hear to you.

When initiating these conversations, do not forget that individuals’s motives are usually good. Some persons are simply wired in a different way in phrases of how they view themselves and the impression of their habits. As an example, I as soon as knew a CEO who drove away eight proficient senior executives in six months however didn’t understand that he was the issue.

Begin by bringing a destructive consequence to a leader’s consideration after which probing for potential causes. If the leader deflects or makes excuses, ask what she or he might have carried out in a different way as an particular person to produce one other consequence. Approaching these conversations by inquiries (reasonably than accusations) is a greater manner to cope with individuals who don’t consider that their actions are inflicting issues.


You would possibly discover {that a} mild dialog isn’t sufficient—generally individuals want the emotional equal of a chilly bucket of water thrown on them. I as soon as labored with an government who was sensible, artistic, well-intentioned, and fully oblivious to how his actions alienated the individuals round him.

Some leaders can’t learn the room as a result of they fail to choose up on nonverbal cues. They may not discover individuals checking their telephones throughout a 90-minute PowerPoint, or they ramble regardless of saying one thing like, “Individuals have advised me I speak an excessive amount of.”


In these instances, evaluation instruments that contain peer suggestions and direct reporting may be useful. A typical device is referred to as a “360.” It’s widely known, however many variations contain inside and/or exterior evaluation and training (e.g., the Hogan teaching community, OPTM360, and lots of others). In the event you’re coping with good individuals, it’s actually definitely worth the funding to assist them achieve self-awareness and grow to be nice.


Often, you’ll encounter leaders who want to change however aren’t receptive to suggestions. They’re competent, environment friendly, and profitable, however their habits creates a poisonous work atmosphere.

These are the leaders who genuinely consider they’re the neatest individuals in the room. They could speak about “progressive” management whereas demonstrating a command-and-control type. Additionally they fail to hear to others, by no means ask for assist, worth being proper over being efficient, and make sweeping organizational modifications with out first gathering enter. Their actions could remedy short-term issues however in the end lead to destructive penalties down the highway.

If you recognize leaders like this, they might want some skilled assist. It’s finest to rent a coach who has expertise serving to leaders develop self-awareness and see areas they overlook.

It may be difficult to have these conversations, however failing to handle a leader’s flawed habits carries lots of dangers. For one factor, leaders who lack self-awareness typically make selections that prohibit their workers’ freedom, creativity, and functionality. Feeling trusted and empowered are major factors in worker satisfaction. Because of this you may’t wait one other month to make a change. Every single day that passes erodes worker morale. In the event you don’t speak to that leader in a well timed method, you’ll lose proficient individuals. And if the leader who lacks self-awareness is you, you may want to replicate in your habits and begin making some modifications.

Sue Bingham, founder and principal of HPWP Group, has been on the forefront of the optimistic enterprise motion for 35 years. She’s pushed to create high-performing workplaces by partnering with brave leaders who worth staff members’ contributions.