Speaker A [00:00:09]:
Hello and welcome to the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that explores self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Join me, your host, NIA Thomas, as we talk to today’s Knowing Self, Knowing Others guest our a very big welcome to today’s show to Niamh Hannon. Neve I’m I’m really pleased that you’re able to join me. Niamh is a chartered psychologist with a particular interest in supporting women to excel in their leadership roles. And I think that’s really interesting because I haven’t spoken to anybody else on this podcast that has that gender specific focus in terms of how they’re going to answer the self awareness questions. But without further ado, I will hand over to Neve to introduce herself.
Speaker B [00:01:00]:
Nia well, thank you so much. I’m delighted to be here. Yes, I’m chartered psychologist and coach. Historically I was counseling for 20 years and then I pre COVID did my pivot and then COVID happened. So now I work primarily, as you mentioned, with women in leadership, really supporting both their well being and their growth from the inside out. So when I’m working with leaders, my focus is on you as a person who you are at your core, at your essence, and helping you to be at your best from the inside out.
Speaker A [00:01:35]:
Then that essence and that core really fits well with our subject of self awareness. How do you define self awareness?
Speaker B [00:01:47]:
For me, self awareness is really the ability to hold up a mirror to yourself, to observe yourself almost from a distance. And the ability and actually even the placing, the importance on taking time to reflect, looking back on and making sense of why you feel a certain way or why you behave in certain ways, why you reacted to somebody or something, and recognizing the impact that that has then on others.
Speaker A [00:02:17]:
So very much time reflection, which often doesn’t happen in the modern working world, and that ability and that time to have that reflection sometimes is a luxury. And I think when we’re working in times of crisis and complexity that is really difficult to achieve.
Speaker B [00:02:39]:
Yes, people are under a lot of pressure and very often people are promoted because of their skill set or years experience, not necessarily because of their self awareness or emotional intelligence. And there’s quite a bit of work. And often when I’m working with leaders who are maybe just kind of going for promotion or have just come into a new role, some of that work is helping them as they climb the ladder to take that time. And prioritize the time to get that eagle view both for strategic management so they’re seeing the bigger picture, but also for their head space and to help them to think in a different way now that they’re in a different role at a higher level. And self awareness is huge for relationships, big time. But also the research would indicate that leader self awareness is also linked with better performance, higher levels of leadership effectiveness and that self aware leaders are more likely to be promoted. That’s the good news. I think that also depends on the organization that they need to be valuing that type of leader and valuing the emotional intelligence because we’ve all been in organizations where the leaders are not self aware and people have suffered as a result.
Speaker A [00:04:13]:
Do you think there’s a relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?
Speaker B [00:04:17]:
Yeah. So as I mentioned, there is research to indicate that there is in a positive way. And so by knowing yourself better it’s about knowing your values, your strengths and weaknesses, your habits, your emotions, your personality and then how they affect our behavior and our actions and how they affect and how you affect the behavior and actions of other people, your team. And by understanding and having the awareness around those things, it helps you to manage your stress better, more effectively, to be less reactive in situations and stress or conflict situations, for example, it helps you to make better decisions. And again, has that impact on positive impact on relationships around you and also how you lead others, because you’re leading others to do the same. Hopefully the research would indicate that there is a positive relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness.
Speaker A [00:05:19]:
Something that I spotted within my research when I was looking at self awareness. Specifically, there is a group of studies referred to as the Self Other rating studies which essentially they are about I rate me, you rate me and it’s about that difference between those rating scores essentially. And there were a few elements of research that said that women were more self aware and deemed more self aware by their direct reports than men. Now, it was an area of study that I didn’t go into in depth because my view is that actually it warranted a PhD of its own. But is that something that you’re seeing? That the women that you are working with that they tend to have greater self awareness or that their teams are saying they have greater self awareness?
Speaker B [00:06:11]:
I work with emotional intelligence and specifically with the EQI 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment too. And so that focus in is in rather than general self awareness. It focuses in on emotional self awareness and then a separate measure is emotional self expression. And that can be quite mixed I think across the sexes lots of people have an imbalance in those two measures that they might be expressing a lot of emotion but if they’re low awareness then for example I could be expressing anger because you made me angry. But what I’m not aware of is that actually something else happened this morning that already had my pot boiling. So there can be a bit of a mismatch there. Sometimes it can go the other way around. Sometimes people are highly self aware about their emotions. They’re quite tuned into and have language good language for the nuances in the emotions, but they might never let anybody else know. And it’s a guessing game. When we go into the emotional intelligence side, really and focusing on that emotional self awareness, those two pieces, it’s as much about the balance and it’s not necessarily that one gender is better at that than another. Although typically I think people would generally say that women will talk about emotions a little bit more easily and more frequently than most.
Speaker A [00:07:35]:
And that’s really interesting. I’ve not spoken to anybody that’s talked about that idea of balance. So really in reflecting on your two elements of emotional intelligence, for me, in terms of self awareness, there’s internal self awareness and external self awareness. And for me there are two elements, external self awareness. But that balance of the two is an interesting concept because absolutely you can be more weighted to one than the other. And of course that will impact on how you show up and how you behave in relationships.
Speaker B [00:08:10]:
Absolutely. And that in turn impacts on the people that you’re working with or living with. And if we pull back from those two, I suppose emotional intelligence measures focusing on the emotions, self awareness I would see as being greater or more generalized than just emotional self awareness. So our self awareness allows us to see that maybe we’re not great at expressing our emotions, but we can name them well and maybe intuit where they’re coming from. So the self awareness can be in that particular emotion intelligence scale. There are 15 different measures. So I’m just talking about two specifics here. But that self awareness really allows us to take that almost kind of eagle eye view of ourselves across the board in all different areas and we will still have blind spots. So like you talked about, there that self measure and other measure. That’s why it can be so helpful when leaders do 360s. So that you’re seeing, okay, this is what I thought and this is what others said about me and this is where the blind spots are. I didn’t realize that they thought I was good at this and maybe they thought it was bad at the other.
Speaker A [00:09:31]:
Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels of organizations?
Speaker B [00:09:36]:
Absolutely. First of all, I think you don’t have to have a title to be a leader. That’s really important. Leaders are found at home, in schools, in communities, in sports parks and at all levels in organizations. And really a leader is for me, it’s somebody who takes initiative and influences or guides others. So really that person usually has a vision which inspires others to follow them or to look to them for guidance. And that can happen anywhere. And very often somebody might get a promotion because they’ve shown those leadership skills first before they got the promotion. And it’s an interesting one, because in any description about me, I would say and describe that I normally work with women in leadership, female leaders. And yet there are women who will exclude themselves from that because they might not have the title or they don’t see themselves as a leader. Even when they do have a management title, for example.
Speaker A [00:10:43]:
Oh, that’s interesting. So how does that manifest?
Speaker B [00:10:47]:
Well, they may not see themselves included or almost as not worthy, which, again, we know. It’s like the stats that show us that if a man looks at a job description and he ticks two or three boxes, he’ll apply, whereas if the female doesn’t fill all the boxes and have all the qualifications needed, she won’t apply. And I think it’s it’s a similar kind of thing here that whether it’s impostor syndrome or just a lack of and it’s a societal thing too, of course, of women not being valued to the same extent for thousands of years. So they’re not putting themselves forward in that way and possibly don’t see themselves as leaders even when they are leading.
Speaker A [00:11:34]:
Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organizations have greater self awareness than leaders at other levels of organizations?
Speaker B [00:11:42]:
Well, I would say ideally, yes. They would, of course, but unfortunately, probably no. So I was looking up some research around this and see, okay, well, what are the facts? What does the data say? And it does seem to suggest that a relatively small number, like ten to 15% of leaders who have what’s generally considered to be a high level of self awareness. But that often the higher you go in an organization, the less self awareness a leader may have. And so there’s a lady called Tasha Yurik. So she is a PhD. She’s written a book called Insight and has a whole Ted Talk. To quote her, she would say, the more power we attain, the less self aware we tend to be. And so there are two reasons for that. One is that the more power you have, the harder it is for people to challenge you or tell you the truth. So you tend to have more yes men around you who are just reflecting back what they think you want to hear. And secondly, the higher you are, the less people there are higher up than you, so you don’t have more senior people to give you that kind of honest feedback.
Speaker A [00:12:58]:
Now, that’s an interesting concept. So I guess that’s where the role of a coach is particularly important, to give you that opportunity to have that mirror, to be put up to you so that you can have that feedback and that reflection.
Speaker B [00:13:12]:
Absolutely. And it just shows you that really, as you climb the ranks, people often tend to get more confident because they’re doing well and there’s more yes men. So it seems like everybody’s clapping for you. Exactly. But it can be a false sense. Again, in the emotional intelligence measurement, it’s reality testing that touches into that. Are you looking for feedback? Are you testing? Is there evidence for that level of confidence? And again, if there’s an imbalance that will, that will be that will start to show up there and again important for kind of 360 feedback. So you are getting anonymous, and therefore more likely to be honest, feedback from your peers, your colleagues, your direct reports. And for any of those who might be more senior than you, that feedback and that constant learning is really important. And perhaps even more so, as you say, to have a good coach who moment to moment can hold the mirror up to you, can challenge, you can create that safe space so you can reflect, so you can start to question, how did I really behave there? What impact might that have had on that person? I think that becomes very important.
Speaker A [00:14:39]:
Do you think effective leaders have more self awareness than ineffective leaders?
Speaker B [00:14:44]:
Yes, I do. I think self awareness generally leads to the obvious one for me always is improved relationships. We’ve all got people in our lives or in our work or that we come across, whether it’s in friendships and can be frustrating if there’s just a lack of self awareness. It does cause problems in relationships and it also causes the issue of well, how do I make somebody self aware or aware that this is what they’re doing and that’s how it’s impacting without causing a huge defensive reaction, for example, or a high conflict or just breaking up the relationship altogether. It’s very difficult to do that. So yes, self awareness impacts both on relationships, on our decision making. It impacts in lots of different areas really in the workplace and then it’s going to matter when it comes to influencing others. So a strong leader is not leading by force, they’re leading by example. They’re influencing and having a positive impact. They’re motivating others without having to go RA. It’s how they are really that others are motivated and how they lead from the inside out, I would say who they are as much as anything. And so self awareness helps all of those things and helps motivate those others to work towards that shared vision, which is the whole aim of the game really, regardless of what that might be applied to, whether it’s organizational or a sports team to win the cup or whatever it might be.
Speaker A [00:16:26]:
Nathan, what is your experience of working with women to help them excel in their leadership, whether they are moving into leadership or moving forward within their leadership where they have had less emotional intelligence and or self awareness than they needed to be able to move forward?
Speaker B [00:16:47]:
I suppose, like I work one to one, but I also love working with groups of women. So every year I create a new group program and for me, the first thing to establish when I bring a group of women together from different backgrounds is safety. And once that safety is established, it allows people to be vulnerable and there’s huge learning in a group like that. And I suppose whether I am working with them on resilience or leadership skills, communication, emotion, intelligence, it doesn’t really matter. Self awareness underlies all that work, really, and growing self awareness. So through different exercises that are interactive or that are models that we’re putting into practice to look at, for example, giving feedback or assertive communication, or it could be dealing with drama in the workplace through any of those things. It’s always in my work. It’s always about reflecting back and learning about yourself in relation to this and how can you apply this to your life and to your work? And what are you taking from this and what are you learning from this and how are you going to use this to make a difference in your life? So the self awareness is that thread that runs through really all the work that I do. And you often see people getting that kind of the light bulb flashing. And people love it because as you’re learning about yourself, you’re building that relationship with yourself. And doing that in a safe place in a non judgmental environment means that you grow your self love, you have a stronger relationship with yourself and so grow in strength and in confidence. And that’s then what you bring to the world, what you bring to your work, what you bring to your leadership. So even if I’m not directly tackling confidence as an issue, for example, it’s a benefit, it’s like a side benefit of the work that we do anyway. Because as you’re growing your self awareness, you’re building that relationship with yourself, which is the primary relationship.
Speaker A [00:19:07]:
I would say yes, most definitely. In my definition of self awareness. Internal self awareness is the first layer. If you don’t have that, you can’t have internal social self awareness and external social self awareness. So, yeah, I absolutely agree with you that it’s a layered approach and you’ve got to start from the center out. Neve, before you go, I’m conscious that your website is somewhere where listeners might want to go. How will they find your website?
Speaker B [00:19:35]:
I’m Niamhhannan.com, likewise, on LinkedIn, they can find me, connect with me there.
Speaker A [00:19:42]:
Brilliant. We will make sure that there are links to your website and your LinkedIn profile on the show notes. So if listeners want to connect with you, they can click and connect. Niamh Hannan, thank you so much for joining me in a conversation today. It’s been really interesting thinking about self awareness, leader, effectiveness and leadership at all levels from a gender specific perspective. Niamh Hannan, thank you very much.
Speaker B [00:20:09]:
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
Speaker A [00:20:17]:
Thank you for joining me. Your host, NIA Thomas at the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast. If you’d like to know more about self awareness, leader, effectiveness and leadership at all levels, please take a look at my website, knowingselfknowingeathers. Co UK you can also join me on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure you bookmark the Knowing selfknowing Others podcast and tune into the next episode in two weeks time. I look forward to having you on my learning journey. If you’d like to join me as a guest on the Knowing selfknowing Others podcast, please drop me a line at info at knowingselfknowingthers co UK. If you’d like to advertise your podcast, book or company connected to self awareness, leader, effectiveness or leadership at all levels, please drop me a line at the same email. Please remember to bookmark the Knowing selfknowing Others podcast so that you can keep up to date with all new episodes. Remember to rate this podcast on whichever directory you listen. Knowing selfknowing Others is available to listen on Apple podcasts. Spotify. Amazon Music Podcast Index Podcast Addict pod Chaser podcast Leader listener Player.