How self-awareness can help you in 2016

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A multinational corporation that created a truly inclusive leadership team; a sportsman who enhanced his own performance and that of his rowing team to go onto Olympic glory; doctors who have sharpened their ability to engage with patients….what’s the common bond? It’s self-awareness.

Self-awareness was the overarching theme of CPP’s one-day conference, titled Grow 2015, held in late November. Speakers at the event included business leaders from Dell, Foxtel and others, Olympian Drew Ginn, and luminaries from the health and education sectors.

“Whether it’s about engaging customers or employees, identifying future leaders or developing high performing cultures, it all starts with the individual,” said Cameron Nott, managing director CPP Asia Pacific. “If you’re a leader, an employee, or part of a group people in a team, having that understanding of who you are and what your personality type is can help you become more effective in whatever you do.”

This is particularly the case for leaders, Nott added. “You may not have an understanding of why you have breakdowns in communication with other people, or why there are areas of conflict or tension. Sometimes you receive feedback and it can be frightening that people perceive you in a totally different way to how you think you come across.”

Personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs® (MBTI®) instrument provide a model by which people can gain that self-awareness; it also provides a vocabulary for understanding both yourself and to assist in appreciating the differences in others. “Through that language people are then more comfortably able to explore these areas of difference, conflict, communication, and so on,” said Nott. “It creates a much more comfortable area in which to discuss these topics.”

Resilience provides a good example. With self-knowledge it’s possible to gain an understanding of the triggers of stress and why we react the way we do when those triggers are pulled. “These triggers and our reactions are different for different people,“ Nott said. “We can become more resilient by having that understanding.”

Nott suggests self-knowledge also lays the foundations for personal development. Once you have an understanding of strengths and blindspots, this can be overlaid with an understanding of what’s important to you, and also what the priorities are for the business. This insight is extremely useful to create targeted L&D plans for individuals.

“Any leader will likely have blindspots,” said Nott. “We can start development from there. Or perhaps it’s about an individual who is about to experience change in the workplace. How they react to change becomes critical.”

In 2016, with business uncertainty and tight budgets likely to continue, Nott said personality insights can add true value to any L&D plan. Not only are learners matched to the L&D option that best suits their personality preference, thus saving on wasted investments, but savings can also be made in other ways. “When we’re working with groups we can start to identify common areas of focus in terms of development areas. Whilst we’re working with individuals we can often design programs that will meet the needs of a number of people across a business,” Nott said.

However, he warns businesses to think twice about cutting corners in their L&D offerings: “Smart companies understand that we’re working in an increasingly competitive environment and the key differentiator is people. We’re still seeing many organisations investing heavily in developing their talent so that they’re able to compete successfully.”