Congratulations! You’ve finally become a manager. Not only do you get that higher salary you’ve been asking for, but you also get to manage a team and be “in charge” for the first time. It’s a big deal, but getting the job is just the first step. It’s now more important that you understand how your colleagues see you in the workplace.
Being self-aware of your skills, talents and interactions is one of the most important skills a manager can possess. While it’s crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses (referred to as “internal self-awareness”), it’s a more effective tool when paired with “external self-awareness” — correctly understanding how others see us.
Nobody knows this better than organizational psychologist Dr. Tasha Eurich. Her three-year study in self-knowledge — discussed in her new book “Insight” — explains how different levels of self-awareness dictate what kind of manager we are. Dr. Eurich identifies three kinds of professionals: those who have self-knowledge, those who underestimate how much self-knowledge they have and those who overestimate how much they have. The third, which Dr. Eurich identifies as “overraters,” make for the weakest manager.
"At the very least they are going to be ineffective because they can't get people to want to follow them," Dr. Eurich said to Business Insider. "A lot of times, un-self-aware leaders at the top that I see who suffer from that problem. They're not respected, they're not effective because they can't get people to jump on board."
As an example, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is an “overrater.” As Uber grew more and more successful, Kalanick failed to understand how his leadership decisions had an impact on his employees and shareholders.
“The power literally goes to our heads and it makes it difficult for us to understand the impact we're having on other people to take their perspectives," Dr. Eurich said. “The higher up you go, a dramatic turn around in self-awareness from one person literally has a ripple effect all the way to the customers and the shareholders."
Climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t exempt one from having to assess how their actions affect others. Rather, it only makes it more important to do so regularly; many people think they have strong self-awareness skills, but only 15 percent of us actually do.
“People who know what drives them, know what their passions are, and understand the impacts they have on the people around them, are more effective,” Lindsay Dodgson wrote for Business Insider. “It’s a very complex and nuanced topic.”
The transition from “overrater” to fully self-aware can take years to complete. However, if you want to make a small step towards self-knowledge today, here are some strategies you can implement:
- Get feedback. Set aside time to speak with each of your employees so you can better understand how they perceive your leadership. Ask specific questions so you can get the most detailed feedback “Don’t write them a blank feedback check,” Dr. Eurich says. “You’re opening the door to things you might not want to hear or might not be ready to work on.”
- Observe if people treat you differently. The next time you’re in a group conversation, spend less time talking and more time listening to how your colleagues respond to each other. Do they laugh at your jokes a lot more loudly than everyone else’s? Do they try to shut you out of the conversation? Keep an eye out for these behaviors, and ask yourself why they may be happening.
- Be open to change. Ultimately, if you’re exhibiting a behavior that’s driving people away, change it ASAP. “You need to change your perspective,” Dr. Eurich says. Try to view yourself from a different angle so you can understand the responses you’ve caused. “This helps you be objective and not wrapped up in your own defenses.”
Though we can never know how everyone truly sees us, putting ourselves in the shoes of our employees is a good first step. The more self-awareness you accumulate, the more success you will find inside the workplace (and out of it).