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Why self-awareness matters

Leadership 15 Nov . min read

Self-awareness. As I write this, I think I can hear collective sighs. That old chestnut, I hear the detractors say. What about it?

And therein lies the problem. It’s one nut leaders across our most influential sectors just can’t seem to crack. And it may just cause them some pain.

Much has been said over the past couple of weeks about the ‘great resignation’ as people reflect in a COVID world and make life changes in the search for happiness, greater work-life balance, or both.

Likewise, there have been numerous musings about how the changing state of the job market is requiring the traditional Chief Executive Officer to transform into a Chief Empathy Officer if they want to hold on to talent amidst a super-low unemployment rate and a highly competitive job market.

Simply being technically competent is no longer good enough, leaders have to be emotionally competent too. They need to see themselves as their employees do, be more skilled at showing empathy and understanding others’ perspectives. They have to equally focus on business performance and looking after their people if they want to build better levels of trust and better relationships with their employees. Otherwise, it is likely their people will walk.

Our latest research shows that leaders across the public sector – both state and local government - have some way to go in the self-awareness stakes. There are notable gaps between their perception of their organisation’s effectiveness and that of their employees. They are also consistently overestimating their abilities to communicate with their teams. When you couple that with less focus on professional development of staff than usual, you can see why people are getting itchy feet.

So, it’s time to stop and reflect.

Leaders who see themselves as their employees do are more skilled at showing empathy and understanding others’ perspectives. They’re focused on business performance and looking after their people. As a result, they have better levels of trust, better relationships with their employees and they are less likely to look for other opportunities.

Research also suggests that, when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and creative. We build stronger relationships and make sounder decisions. To better understand others, we must first better understand ourselves. It’s a win-win.

If you’d like to learn more about self-awareness in the state sector you can download a copy of the latest AskYourTeam insights paper - New Zealand State Sector Leaders’ Effectiveness 2019–2021: Navigating Through Disruption below.

The latest Council Leaders' Effectiveness: Navigating Through Disruption 2019- 2021 paper is coming soon! Sign up for an early bird copy here.

New Zealand State Sector Leaders: Navigating Through Disruption 2019-2021

If your people were asked to rate your organisation and leadership, how would it fare against others in the sector? Download our latest State Sector Leaders' Effectiveness insights paper to learn more about where the sector leaders are performing well and where there are opportunities to improve.

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Lisa Nairne

Marketing Communications Manager

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