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self awareness , organisation , leaders , people , sarah , aware , absolutely , interesting , question , chief happiness officer , knowing , feedback , awareness , leadership , communication styles , management , hear , podcast , person , brilliant

Unknown Speaker 0:10

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

Unknown Speaker 0:31

Sarah, thank you very much for joining me today on my very first podcast, it’s fabulous to have you here. And I was just thinking about, I think we’ve met through LinkedIn. Yeah, we

Unknown Speaker 0:44

have actually, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 0:46

I don’t think we’ve actually ever met in person.

Unknown Speaker 0:49

No, I would definitely remember that. But we are long overdue and in person.

Unknown Speaker 0:54

Most definitely. Yeah, that 3d part is definitely missing. Absolutely. But it’s wonderful to have you here. And for everybody else listening, I’m gonna ask you to introduce yourself, because Sarah is a particularly interesting person to all those listeners that maybe have not come across there before. Once you’ve heard about Sarah, you will definitely be linking yourself to her on LinkedIn, and listening to her podcast. So Sarah, please do introduce yourself.

Unknown Speaker 1:22

Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m totally delighted, and I feel very flattered to be your first guest. So my name is Sarah Metcalf. I am the chief happiness officer and founder at my own company called Happy coffee consulting, and I do workplace culture and happiness consulting. So the idea being that, if you focus on the happiness of your employees, then basically every business metric you care to measure is improved. As long as well as you know, making your business better, it’s also the right thing to do. And then on the side, because I have so much time, I am also the Co-leader of Woohoo unlimited. And we are a group of around 130, Chief happiness officers from more than 30 countries around the world. And we are really just working on promoting that as a mission to create a better world of work. That’s brilliant.

Unknown Speaker 2:14

Thank you, Sarah. And if anybody is interested in the chief happiness officer training, please do go and check out Sarah’s website, happy coffee consulting, and you will find out lots of information there. It’s something that I aspire to. So hopefully one day I will get onto that course

Unknown Speaker 2:33

we will get you on Yeah, we will get.

Unknown Speaker 2:37

So Sarah, we have five questions that I’m going to pick your brains about, if I may. So the first question, how do you define self awareness?

Unknown Speaker 2:52

So I guess for me, self awareness is obviously a simple answer, being aware of yourself. I think. For me, it is about looking at who you are as a person, who you believe you are, who you aspire to be, how you impact others how you’re coming across. And I guess really thinking about the difference between. Yeah, between those two, because often who we think we are, who we’re trying to portray, and then who we potentially are to other people can sometimes be different. And so for me, self awareness is about constantly questioning, you know, thinking again, looking at yourself from a different light, looking at yourself in a different way trying to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. And, yeah, and all of those kinds of different spider webs that fell into it, I think there’s probably more to it, but in a in a somewhat succinct way. I guess that would be how I would define it.

Unknown Speaker 4:12

That’s really interesting. And I’m already going off topic, go of the positive psychology at work that you really understand for me far more than I do. That notion of feedback and giving feedback. Well, during my research, I read a lot about feedback and and being self aware and how you give that feedback and also receive that feedback. What does positive psychology say about self awareness, feedback, how you put all of those things together so that you create a learning culture within an organisation?

Unknown Speaker 4:56

Such a good question, and I’m definitely not an expert or I I would never call myself an expert passionate, I’m very passionate about it. So I think so, in in the context of feedback, self awareness is also including awareness of others. Right. So some people are more sensitive than other people. I know this because I am one of those people. So having an awareness of other people’s kind of personality types, their communication styles, their values, their needs, I just did a really, really interesting kind of deep dive into conflict. And, and kind of the idea of people’s needs and their needs being met or unmet is kind of the root of all conflict. And so, the idea that being self aware is important. So how do you come across? How do you prefer to be told things, you know, that the platinum rule of management don’t manage others? How you want to be managed, manage others how they want to be managed, but that, that takes an awareness of how your, what your style is, you know, how, you know, what are your strengths? What are your styles, and it’s not kind of any one of them, but you can choose any of them, right? I think, you know, if you do personality profiling, if you do strengths finders, if you do communication styles, learning, if you do Myers Briggs, you know, whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s all a data point, right about yourself. And then what you have to do is turn that around and go, right, if I’m like this, and this is how everything affects me, how, who is the other person? And what affects them? And then how do who I am, how does who I am, affect them. And that’s part of the feedback for me, that’s really, really critical, because you can give feedback in a way that you believe is useful and helpful, and then be really surprised that it’s not taken well. And there’s kind of a lot to that if we went all the way into the feedback side of things, you know, in terms of, you know, positive feedback is so rarely given, it’s, you know, never ever, ever have I ever heard someone say, oh, you know, I get too much positive feedback from my boss. So yeah, so I guess in terms of self awareness, it’s almost knowing who you are, and then knowing who they are.

Unknown Speaker 7:53

Very interesting. So I’m going to take you on to question number two. Okay, you think there is a relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?

Unknown Speaker 8:02

Yeah, absolutely. So what we just talked about, if you’re aware of your style, so someone like myself, who is potentially like a really, very happy person maybe has a higher happy setpoint, but also want to of my strengths is positivity. So I can be a very effective leader. But I can also cause people to think I’m not an effective leader, because they think I don’t see the negative side of things, right. So again, this awareness of how I come across and what people might need to hear again. So this is almost becoming I’m keep veering away from self awareness and into awareness in general. Sure, I guess, being really critical. Obviously, being aware of myself, that’s the, that’s the one thing I have impact on, and I can be in charge of, and I can change or adapt. So so understanding myself is really critical. I think also, the leaders I know who have self awareness, in my experience, have also had more ability to accept where they’re wrong, you know, because if you’re, if you’re going into self awareness, you’re automatically starting to get curious about yourself, right? Sure. And so as soon as you become curious about yourself, you can stop being defensive, because I think curiosity is the antidote to a lot of those kind of negative mindsets, right? Yeah. So. So being curious about yourself probably would lead you to be like, Oh, well, if this is about me, then what about you, actually? And, and so then again, if you’re effective as a leader, it means you can communicate, you can help people you’re aware of the situations you can be wrong, therefore You can be vulnerable you can be available, you can be empathic, all these things that potentially if you just think you’re really great at your job, you might, you might not be as open to all of those external factors. So I think

Unknown Speaker 10:16

interesting, interesting ideas. Yeah, definitely. I’m gonna take you straight on to Question three. Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels of organisations, so a slightly different twist to the quote is

Unknown Speaker 10:31

a different twist. And I love it because it is a nuance, but I believe often they are found more at all levels of the organisation, okay, then, then in everywhere and not in every organisation. But we are still in a space where historically speaking, people have been promoted, because they’re really good at their core jobs, not because they’re great leaders. And so, if you’re searching around, then you’ll probably see people who make things happen. That’s probably the best description I’ve got in any organisation.

Unknown Speaker 11:15

Different industries have, are there this is more prevalent in different industries. Do you think there are some organisations and sectors that are more red tape where it doesn’t allow this to happen? Or do you think this has potential in any organisation?

Unknown Speaker 11:33

I think it has potential in any organisation. I think if you find effective leaders, even in a high bureaucracy organisation, you’ll those are the people who get get stuff done. Since censor myself, if you walk into an organisation, great example. When I was in elementary school, if anyone wanted anything done, they went to the secretary. Yeah. Anyone, any parent, and teacher, and each child, everyone knew where to go. And so you’ll have these kind of hubs of knowledge. And they may not be getting things done through traditional leadership lenses. But I would call those people leaders. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 12:26

most definitely. Yeah. And you do see them in all walks of life in all sectors and industries. Yes. Yeah. And they are often that people that you remember, for their ability to lead teams without that maybe management mandate behind them. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 12:42

absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Have you got someone who is? People are following them. Yeah. Without without that mandate. Right.

Unknown Speaker 12:54

This takes us very neatly on to Question four. Yeah. Though, do you think that leaders at the most strategic level of organisations have greater self awareness than leaders that other levels of organisation

Unknown Speaker 13:09

such a loaded question, isn’t it? So? I my observation, it has been that some of them Yes. Huge amounts of them no, but they believe they have. And they use the language. And they maybe they want to run again, vulnerability, because I think we’re coming into a really interesting period here where you have people from the kind of, you know, 80s and 90s. And, you know, early noughties School of Management, who are, who were this is the end of their career. This is the twilight of their career. And some of the people who are who are somewhat under them, who are learning this new style of management and leadership, and some of them just get it and they’re great and sales do not. But I would say, I guess at the most strategic level of organisations, they should have greater self awareness. Yeah. Than leaders and other levels of organisations. But, and when you see someone who does it, it is like magic. It is like lightning. Yeah, it is like, you know, I don’t know what else to call it, except for its is magic. But I haven’t seen that as like I walk into to senior leadership, and that’s what I see across the board. Yeah, that’s my experience. I hope that there are many organisations out there who have those things. But I haven’t yet seen it like yeah, like yeah, they all Do I do think, though, that there is a much greater understanding for the need for it? And I think that is definitely a movement that I see and hear and feel is happening.

Unknown Speaker 15:13

Do you think that COVID has changed that accelerated that movement? I think for me in, in what I’m seeing what I’m hearing what I’m reading, I think there is a shift towards a different style of management, because we’ve been more interested in well being, which means that you have to be more aware of people, how people are behaving, their emotions, etc. By using some

Unknown Speaker 15:43

Yeah. COVID. Yeah, yeah. So I would say, just sitting in those in the way that we are, that we did for such a long time, has definitely had an impact on people that have for all people, maybe not just leaders, but all people being more self aware, because we have had I want to say time, because many of us were incredibly overworked and are still overworked. And time is a ridiculous concept. You know, as I was doing 10 hours of meetings with my three year old hanging off my shoulders, yeah, my husband upstairs in bed for nine months. I totally appreciate that. But space, I would say it created space for us to be more self aware. So I think that it has and then, as you said, all of the kind of traditional ways that we have managed walking around looking at people seeing productivity, all the ways that we have created to happier workplaces, you know, perks, benefits, bonuses, great office stuff, food, you know, free fruit and coffees and all those kinds of things. Those were all gone. Yeah. And so we absolutely had to roll up our sleeves as leaders and managers, and those who hadn’t taken account of people’s well being in people’s individual needs, and requirements in the workplace, came front and centre. I think, sadly, my observation is we’ve slept, we haven’t learned as well as I would have liked us to. And I wish I wish that weren’t the case. I think it will happen. And I think it has definitely expedited this type of leadership and management that you and I totally believe in and buy into. But not not as much as I wished it had.

Unknown Speaker 17:43

That’s, that’s interesting. And I think you’re right, we sort of moved forward. It’s almost like a wave. You can see the wave moves forward. back a little bit further, but then the tide has got to come in. And then yeah, and I wonder whether we’re just on us on a really trajectory of change. Still,

Unknown Speaker 18:02

I totally Yeah, I think we are I think the biggest changes are still to come. But I wonder if we might sense talk in 12 months

Unknown Speaker 18:11

time, what will we be talking about? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 18:14

definitely. What will be the important to? Yeah, what are the things that that have completely shifted and moved? Yeah, I agree. Really interesting. To see this.

Unknown Speaker 18:24

Final question. Question number five. Do you think effective leaders have more self awareness than ineffective leaders?

Unknown Speaker 18:33

Yeah, absolutely. And hopefully, our conversation is has led to that. Yeah, I think where I see in effective leaders is exactly that people who have absolutely no concept. And these are senior leaders, but also leaders in many other areas that you have leadership, they have no concept of the impact or lack of impact their actions behaviours have on those around them. They are they are those the ineffective leaders are those people who, you know, you put your head in your hands when you have the reading. Or everybody’s cameras off because the looks of disbelief on your face. Those people say things, and I you know, I’m laughing at it, because it’s happened multiple times to me, but it’s so unfortunate because I actually I do believe that anyone can be an effective leader. And self awareness is a huge piece of that. Because once you’re self aware, then you can start to be vulnerable and to share things with people and say things like, I don’t actually know what that means as the leader. Right or as the head of something. Whereas you quiet it feels. It feels more like ineffective leaders are now the emperor’s new clothes. That’s that’s how I experienced it. Yeah, you’ll walk out of a room, or walk out of a meeting. And everyone looks around, because they assume they are the only person who was was less than blown away, say, by the the tactics or whatever happened in that particular space. But yeah, and if you were self aware, you would start to ask other people questions, and you would start to get curious. And you would understand what could I do differently? What could I do better? Where am I getting things? Right? What am I great at? What am I not so great at? And you know, I really messed this one up, or I said the wrong thing, or I needed to, you know, and that’s, that’s what starts this dialogue of, of being and bringing your whole self to work, right, being human and vulnerable, and, and saying, you know, when things are bad, you know, people treating people at work like adults.

Unknown Speaker 20:59

Early on, you said something like, people are often promoted, because they are good at the technical side of their role. But actually, those people aren’t always leaders. I think that’s what you’re saying here that that actually, just because you’re at a senior position, if you are lacking in self awareness, have you really got that ability to create that team that true leadership, style and culture within your team? Your organisation?

Unknown Speaker 21:31

Yeah, yeah, that’s, that sums it up perfectly. Really, that’s it? It’s, if you know, self awareness is probably a leadership skill. And so if you don’t have it, perhaps you shouldn’t be a leader. But it’s also a challenging thing, because, you know, self awareness is also we decide how self aware we are right? So if I think I’m really self aware, who says I actually am? Well, I do because it’s myself. Right? So there’s, you know, obviously, it’s a that’s I guess, for me, that’s where that as a leader, self awareness is just half of that. It’s half of that puzzle. The other bit is awareness of others. Yeah, most definitely.

Unknown Speaker 22:16

There’s a study that Dunning Kruger study, which, which I absolutely love, and forgive me, because I always think of Donald Trump, when I think of this brilliant at something, it’s quite likely that I’m not brilliant at something. So yes, the leaders who think they are amazing and fabulous and have the team in the palm of their hand. They’re often the ones who really, really don’t. So if anybody’s interested in that, please look up the Dunning Kruger effect. It is really interesting, and you will see it play out in your organization’s Oh,

Unknown Speaker 22:46

absolutely. And, you know, that is it’s the emperor’s new clothes. It’s, you know, those head in your hands moments. And, and it’s, it’s so unfortunate, because, like I said, I think anyone can be a great leader. But, you know, you got to leave that ego at the door. And absolutely, mostly, mostly what we don’t see we’re starting to see more of it. But yeah, it’s not where it’s I don’t think we’ve quite hit that tipping point. Yeah. Yeah. The wave still got a bit more distance a little bit more. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we have another another few times.

Unknown Speaker 23:27

Sarah, it’s been absolutely brilliant talking to you. Thank you so much for being my very first guest on the knowing self knowing others podcast. Maybe we will indeed come back and have another conversation in 12 months time and we’ll put the world to rights then.

Unknown Speaker 23:42

I would love to do that. Thank you so much for having me.

Unknown Speaker 23:45

It’s been brilliant. Sarah, thank you.

Unknown Speaker 23:54

Thank you for joining me your host Nia Thomas of 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 knowing self knowing You can also join me on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure you bookmark the knowing self knowing others podcast and tune into the next episode in two weeks time. I look forward to having you on my learning journey.