Self-awareness is undoubtedly key to being more effective in interactions with other people and underpins interpersonal skills. Emotional intelligence is seen as having more importance than cognitive skills or ability in managing and leading others.
Judith Nicol and Paul Sparrow from Lancaster University urged caution, though, in their report “Powerful leadership: the importance of self awareness in extending range”
“Senior leaders think about emotional intelligence as it applies to them as leaders in transactional terms, as a tool to call upon in certain situations. It is a compartmentalized concept rather than the driver of their emotional, thinking and behavioural responses”
It’s important to note that Emotional Intelligence is not a technique to be employed when the situation seems to require them, it is a set of skills or competencies which can be developed through coaching, feedback and disclosure as part of a personal and professional development programme.
We recognise, in ClearWorth, that leaders, managers, influencers, negotiators and others who recognise the value of enhance interpersonal skills should have more than the average amount of self-awareness. Difficult to measure of course but being willing to explore, investigate and accept descriptions and feedback on personal style, behaviours and values in action are good indicators as to whether someone is willing to expand their self awareness or not.
We use a range of tools or instruments to help people on this voyage of discovery. We think of many of them as heuristic models – designed to increase and encourage learning and exploration rather than providing incontrovertible evidence or scientific fact about the complex topic of personality and interpersonal psychology.
We are qualified to administer MBTI (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), TotalSDI (Strengths Deployment Inventory) and , Everything DiSC from Wiley (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness), FiroB (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation Behaviour) and several more. These powerful tools can all provide deep insights into what goes on for people at the conscious and unconscious levels which have an effect on their behaviour, the things they say or do.
They do not, however, create self-awareness in themselves. They are measures using specific dimensions developed through research, observations and the application of psychological theories. They are only models – and models by their very nature are imperfect. They are not the real thing; they are a representation of the real thing.
There is, in our view, a prerequisite which is the motivation or interest to explore and understand more about how you work and the willingness to learn an develop based on the information they provide.
In the field of human relations and interpersonal skills there are few, if any authoritative answers that can be assumed to be universal in how to work with other people, how to motivate them, lead them, engage them, influence them and get their buy-in.
Any of the previously mentioned tools should, in our view, raise questions to be considered rather than provide an answer book or checklist approach to how to be more effective. The fundamental questions should start with “How do I…?”.
The focus is on self in self-awareness of course. But self-consciousness is only half the picture. Your behaviour, operating style, demeanour, character or whatever noun you choose to describe you in action is only important when you are in the presence of others. It is not enough to just have a clearer understanding of your inner workings, preferences, tendencies or personality. How you appear and occur to other people is vitally important but, even more important in our view, how you change and adapt to other people’s behaviour, needs and expectations is the measure of your Behavioural Intelligence – this is Emotional Intelligence in action. Having the ability to notice what’s going on and consciously choose what to say or do next rather than be governed by instinctive or impulsive responses.