A real case of self-awareness and leadership

A real case of self-awareness and leadership


Written by Luciana Gazzoni


I’d like to share a real case of self-awareness and leadership. Some time ago, I had a new coaching client. He willingly came into my office, telling me that he had problems at the company. His employees were submitting complaints to the company’s Compliance reporting channel, stating that he was a harassing manager. The result of his area’s climate survey was the worst in the company. And a few weeks before he had been informed by the HR that two of his ex-employees were suing the company for moral harassment. He looked at me with wide open eyes and said: “At first, I thought it was just baseless complaining; then I came to realize there was something real about it. There is something I do that impacts people but I don't know what it is. I only know that this is not the type of manager I want to be”.

This case was remarkable to me for several reasons. First, because a manager does not always seek the coaching process with openness to learning. He or she is often referred to in the denial stage and it takes a while to understand that there may be something to be explored. Secondly, it was impressive to me that he knew what he wanted TO BE; however, he was aware that there was a gap between the desire in his heart and the behavior he had with this team. This is also quite significant.

The clarity that even with the best of intentions we can cause harm despite the genuine desire not to do so can get us off this route.

The difference between how we see ourselves and how other people regard us is one of the best assessments we can have of our own self-awareness. And there is an intriguing relationship between self-awareness and power. The higher someone's position in an organization, the greater the difference. As people gain power, the number of persons who are willing or courageous enough to speak sincerely about the impacts of behavior decreases. Lack of self-awareness leaves many leaders clueless

Self-awareness: the ability to manage ourselves and realize how what we do impacts others.

Frequently, behind situations like this are leaders who can deliver; however, in an unsustainable way in the medium and long terms. High-achieving, super-focused leaders are called “pacesetters”. They create a toxic climate, that dispirits those they lead. They are so focused on the goals and objectives that they are blinded to their impact on the people around them.

“The sun is the best disinfectant” says Daniel Goleman in his book Focus, referring to the process of developing self-awareness and self-responsibility. The leader I mentioned above had the courage to face a long process of development and humility, leaving behind the status of disqualification, in which “the problem is the other people” and “it’s all baseless complaining” and then going into “how can I contribute to stimulate people to become the best versions of themselves?”, and “how can I improve my response to anger? ”. Yes, we found out that, when anger knocked on the door, he had difficulty managing it properly. And, in addition to his words, his body expression became disproportionate. Becoming aware of anger and learning how to express it in a productive way was one of the main goals of this process. As a result, he achieved a new, positive image and credibility within the organization, to the point of joining the rank of the best evaluated managers in his organization two years later.

At the end of the whole process, he asked me whether he had been “hard work” for me. Actually, not. Assisting someone who wants to change and is courageously willing to try new behaviors is a “piece of cake” - a privilege for me.

And what about you: what have you been doing to expand self-awareness? What is the impact you are causing on your work environment? Would you dare try and find it out?


Original article published in Portuguese: Artigo publicado no Canal Ric Mais