Self-awareness: The secret to success as a boss

Discovering your boss superpower
Keith Tatley

What type of person are you?

Do you stare at the microwave countdown, wishing it would hurry up? OR Is it only food when it comes out of the slow cooker?

Do you like to make sure you say hello to everyone when you arrive at the office? OR Is the first thing you do is flick your computer on?

Do you like to speak in a strong voice to make sure people hear you? OR Do you think it’s rude to disturb others in the office?

It’s easy to know the answers to the above, but do you know what type of boss you are? To find out take the Boss SuperPower assessment (under 5 minutes and you must be logged into your Go1 portal to view it) and see what the results say. The rest of this module explains the science behind this assessment and how you can improve your management results with better self-awareness.

PS Self-Awareness is just one of the Essential Management Skills that they don’t teach you in school. Find out how to be a better boss here (Note: you need to be logged into your Go1 portal to view this content).


Self-awareness means knowing your strengths & blind spots

The wonderful thing about people is that we are all different, with different strengths. But every strength has a corresponding weakness. The issue is if we are unaware of our weaknesses then they are blind spots that have a habit of biting us in the bottom. What I’d like to share with you is how you can use Self-Awareness to be a better boss.

Self-awareness as a manager skill

Self-awareness is knowing what you’re good at and knowing where your weaknesses are. Self-awareness rarely makes the list of top leadership traits, yet it is one of the most valuable.

Ask yourself: “How can you be a successful leader if you don’t even know yourself”

Gallup research shows that great bosses do three things:

  1. Great bosses fully recognize their talents and develop them into strengths,
  2. Great bosses manage their strengths to overcome their weaknesses,
  3. Great bosses invent ways to apply their strengths in new and creative ways to reach their goals. 

How well do you know yourself?

Surely no-one should know yourself better than yourself? But a study by Korn/Ferry International (2012) showed that nearly 80% leaders had blind spots about their talents. And in this study of 2,750 leaders, 40% had at least one hidden strength.

My personal experience is that the problem with blind spots is that you just don’t know about them by their very nature. It’s like you look into your toolbox and only find a hammer. You don’t realise that other people have got screwdrivers and yet others have got hacksaws. What happens is that you just think they are bad at hammering things. As the expression goes: “To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.”  

To push this analogy right to the edge: If you use a hammer when what you really need is a saw, you are destined to fail, no matter how good you are at using a hammer and no matter how hard you try. 

Self-awareness requires an external perspective

Without some sort of external perspective people remain unaware of things they haven’t experienced themselves. How I see this manifest with the people I coach is that bosses get stuck with the same repeating problems.

What this might look like for you is when you continually have the same disputes and problems with your employees. Has employee Dave done bad work again? This pattern will repeat until you figure out what YOU need to change to fix this.

Try it for yourself, take the boss superpower assessment

To start your own journey to be a better boss, find out what your own Boss Super Power is with the online assessment (You must be logged into you Go1 portal to view). The assessment will show you what your management strengths are and any potential problem tendencies. And it also gives you customised management feedback and advice.

Don’t be a fish trying to climb a tree

The thing about people is that we are all different. What works well for one person can have the opposite effect for another. Watch out for one size fits all management advice because this might not be the right thing for you. Like Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Don’t be a fish trying to climb a tree, instead improve your self-awareness and find your management style that suits the person who you are.

Wrapping up – Join the self-leadership movement

I really like the new movement towards self-leadership. It’s wonderful to see people taking responsibility for improving themselves. But the first step towards self-leadership is self-awareness. You’re going to get stuck repeating the same mistakes over and over again, until you figure out what blind spots are sabotaging you. When you know your strengths and learn to leverage them, that's when you can go from average to Superhero.

The boss superpower online assessment

Take the assessment in the Go1 Online Course: Discover Your Boss Superpower

Relevant supporting skills:

The mission of Manager Foundation is to make work a better place by improving self-awareness, communication and relationships. Other supporting skills include:

About the author:

Keith Tatley is a Chartered Accountant and Yoga Teacher. He helps people to have successful and happy careers by showing them the soft skills that people need to be effective in the workplace. For example: How to have One on One Meetings with your Boss. He operates ManagerFoundation, Karm.Academy and WWW.BOSS.CAMP

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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