One of the most desirable leadership skills is "awareness." In their book The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves note that research has shown emotional skills are the major factors for a leader's success, accounting for 60% of the likelihood of success.
During conversations, we sometimes believe we have a clear vision of what the best solution is to resolve the issue...from our perspective.
How often do we look at a challenging situation from the point of view of the other person involved? Do you ever find yourself, during a heated discussion, planning your rebuttal instead of listening? As Jim Haudan and Rich Berens illustrate in their book Blind Spot, you cannot consistently win others over solely with logic or fact-filled presentations. It takes connecting with meaningful dialog by engaging and acknowledging emotions to convince people. Having an awareness of how we are presenting during an interaction with another person is key to being more effective.
Luckily, awareness is something that can be developed and enhanced. Here are 6 tips to help increase awareness.
Studies by Richard Davidson, founder of Center for Healthy Minds, show that meditation produces measurable changes in the brain and body. It enables a calmer state of mind and can even assist the body's immune system to function better. Being in a calmer state allows you to notice what is going on both within and around you to respond more effectively. Guided apps can help you get started to a place of calm alertness. Begin with as little as a three-minute session and increase the time as you get more comfortable.
2. Slowdown - Focus
Leaders are often tempted to race through interactions just to check them off their "to do" list. Others attempt to multi-task even though neuroscience has shown that people cannot effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. The mind is quickly shifting its attention from one thing to another, leading to mistakes and decreased effectiveness.
3. Intentional listening
Consciously listen to what the speaker is saying in conversations. Instead of formulating your rebuttal, listen to the speaker's voice inflections and notice their body language to understand their point and intent. Ask questions to gain clarity.
4. Keep a journal or log
Write about the accomplishments and insights of your day. Write about how you showed up as a leader that day and what you want to work on. The logging will provide a reference to note progress. It can also help with the recognition of patterns thatmight otherwise go unnoticed.
5. Make time for self-care
As the leader of an organization, you bring the weather. Your work unit, for better or worse, will reflect what you project. Make the time to care for your health through exercise, getting enough sleep, and healthy eating to clear the mind of daily clutter.
6. Get a leadership coach
A coach serves as a sounding board and helps the leader with most any professional topic. Coaching helps illuminate new perspectives and opportunities that can shift the leader's career to a higher level. Former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, said, "Everyone needs a coach. One thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them."
Remember that regardless of what your level of awareness is, it can be fostered and improved with practice.