You Can’t Change What You Can’t See

Leaders will often ask us, “How can I change my behavior?”  Or they ask us something which sounds like, “Do I really want to change behaviors that work for me?”  To change a behavior, we have to first see it and understand what works about it and what doesn’t.

Feedback can give a glimpse into how others perceive us, but sometimes leaders are stumped by it.  They ask, “How can others think I’m (fill in the blank - intimidating, critical, conflict-avoidant, indirect, abrasive, intrusive, detached)? I don’t see myself that way at all!”   We all have blind spots, which are the things we would rather not acknowledge about ourselves.  Once we start to observe our behavior patterns clearly and raise awareness to those that serve us as well as those that are self-defeating, we have a much better chance of making positive changes.

Assessments and tools (like 360-degree feedback, the Hogan, Emotional Intelligence 2.0) help leaders to better understand themselves so they can continue to develop and grow.  These tools are often a jumping off point for coaching and leadership development because they paint a picture of “what is,” i.e., they describe the behavior we are seeing or are likely to see.  Another tool we use frequently, the Enneagram, offers the added benefit of helping clients to recognize “why” they behave the way they do, and understand the motivation behind their behavior.  The Enneagram is a personality system that looks at the nine different ways people see the world – nine different ways we think, feel, and behave.  Unlike the MBTI or DISC, which categorize us relatively quickly and in isolation, the Enneagram requires ongoing self-reflection and self-observation.  And when taught to a team, it invites input from others and dialogue around what we think we are like as compared with what others experience. That reflection and dialogue show us our patterns of behavior; that opens up a practice of noticing; and that mindful noticing is what enables change.

Connor Blakey summed it up this way, "Knowing why you do what you do empowers you to become more self-aware."   Understanding our motivation is no small thing, and for many, it sheds light quickly on unconscious and habitual behavioral patterns that keep us stuck.  And while the Enneagram can tell us where we are likely to go off-track (so we can be on the lookout for those patterns), it is also a map that points us in the direction of growth.  Once we wake up to what we are doing when our habits run on autopilot, our insights give us the power to change!

We have seen firsthand the incredible positive changes that happen when leaders are willing to take the leap into deeper self-observation.  They start better understanding themselves and then the people around them.  Because the Enneagram gives leaders new compassion for those who see the world differently, they tend to get better at giving feedback and having two-way communication and this naturally results in improved relationships, which support higher engagement.

The first step to new levels of awareness is finding your personality type on the Enneagram.   To learn more about how the Enneagram can build self-awareness for you or your team, contact us.