It’s not a secret that continued development is a defining factor of lasting success. There’s truth in the saying, “what got you here won’t get you there.” Too often, I find that we forget about developing ourselves and being honest with the growth opportunities that we face as leaders. This is why I focus on building a mindset of high-level situational awareness when working with others.
Awareness is the foundation in which personal and professional development is built.
Leaders often surround themselves with team members who have abilities and skills that compensate for their own weaknesses. That isn’t necessarily a problem, and I support the thought process to build teams with the best talent possible that maximize individual strengths and abilities. However, I will often push leaders to look at themselves and evaluate whether they’re setting the right example for their team members when it comes to their own growth areas.
Leaders aren’t perfect–I know, shocker!
The moment leaders find peace in imperfection is the moment when true development can take place. Here’s a condensed story about my imperfections and how recognizing them brought comfort and clarity so that I could become a better leader and person.
It all started in 2016 when I began partnering with an organizational psychologist during a major company restructuring. Our goal was to aid in assessing current and incoming leaders who were crucial to the success of the reorg. This opportunity to partner with Dr. John Mlinarcik was one that defined my thought process about “development.” It also helped me develop an ability to influence others to drive awareness and clarity. Through awareness, employees can often guide their own growth.
Here’s what I learned about myself while working with Dr. John: I’m a “Gregarian.” Gregarians are outgoing and appear adept at knowing what to say with a knack for comforting and influencing others. Apparently, we’re also great conversationalists; we are empathetic, spontaneous, and display a good sense of humor. We’re also team players willing to accomplish goals for the common good.
Sounds great, right?
Here’s the flipside. Under distress, Gregarians get fidgety and often react, speak their mind and let others know where they are coming from. We may retort, pout or even rebel, but eventually, we’ll make amends and return to socializing. I hate to admit it, but this is a fair representation of my personality; so much so that my friends and family nearly fell off their seats when I showed them my entire profile!
This is only scratching the surface–the rest of the report dove further into my critical thinking process and what situations can cause my awareness to decrease.
Knowing that not everyone has a Dr. John to lean on for direction, here are a few ways for you to begin the process of building your own situational awareness:
- Know Yourself and Slow Down –Understanding your natural behaviors, strengths, blockers, and thought patterns are crucial factors that help you develop yourself. Without identifying growth areas, you really can’t work on improving yourself. The hardest and most important part of this is being able to identify your adapted state at work and while under stress. When we operate in a stressful state, our consciousness becomes much more limited.
Focus on the consciousness of your actions, especially when under stress. Under stress, we operate through the limbic function of our brain, the part involved with emotion, learning, and memory. When in a state of stress, you must increase awareness in order to understand and identify why that feeling is present.
- Mindset and Pivot – Situational awareness is a mindset and one that takes practice to master. Being mindful and aware gives you the ability to identify triggers that take you from a natural state to one of stress. Having the ability to identify triggers will allow you to navigate those situations in a more conscious state more effectively.
- Lean on Others– Being open about your own challenges and growth areas isn’t always the easiest. Trust me–I just shared a synopsis about my own behaviors with the entire internet! By leaning on those who trust you and support your growth, you can build a sounding board to discuss specific situations and see things from another lens.
As a result of taking an in-depth look at yourself and your thought processes, you can strengthen the culture of your team. Lead by example and allow others to begin finding comfort in their own imperfections. Drive the mindset of awareness, build upon yourself and enjoy the growth process.
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