Self-Awareness Workshops

The Undesirable Effects of Workplace Hierarchy

Hierarchy is an inescapable reality in our workplaces even though it stifles creativity and independent thinking. It generally comes from what we saw in our families: One or two people who are in charge, write the law and don’t allow for any input or questioning because it’s against the order they’ve imposed. Leaders who lack self-awareness may not realize how the walls they build between people affect the functioning of their organizations. Authoritarian¬†hierarchy creates many undesirable effects:

  • People don’t feel important.
  • People aren’t heard.
  • All rules are issued from above.
  • Creative thinking is discouraged.
  • Questioning is forbidden.
  • People are labelled and put in boxes.
  • Decision-making is based on rank or status.
  • Leadership enjoys additional perks.
  • People are afraid to think autonomously.
  • Everyone’s role is defined from the top.
  • Little tolerance for new ideas or approaches.

A large percentage of our workplaces are designed to manage and control employees rather than let them shine. The key to creating a dynamic, fluid workplace is to get rid of the barriers between people and encourage them to interact freely and share ideas. Sure, there will be times when leadership has to make a final decision, but it will be less frequent because people are amazingly adept at thinking on their own when we let them. How will you reduce the influence of hierarchy in your workplace?

Take care,


Leadership and Resolving Workplace Conflict

If you’re a leader who values self-awareness, you understand that your actions play a big part in resolving workplace conflict because you set the standard for how people interact and treat each other. Many leadership approaches focus on managing disputes superficially rather than resolving them long-term. Here are some examples of frequently used, ineffective conflict resolution techniques:

  • Agree to disagree.
  • Find out who is wrong.
  • One person dictates a solution.
  • Raise your voice and tell people to stop it or knock it off.
  • Say you’re over it and pretend it never happened but never get over it.
  • Passively or actively make the other person’s life difficult.
  • Discipline the person or send them to HR.

The reason these approaches don’t work is that they don’t address the root cause of the situation or encourage people to work collaboratively to find a solution. Here are some examples of behaviors that work:

  • Agree to behave kindly and respectfully.
  • Agree to work together to resolve the issue.
  • Answer the question, “What’s really going on?”
  • Identify the root cause together.
  • Brainstorm possible ways to fix the situation.
  • Choose a single brainstorm item to start working on together.
  • Encourage each person to choose how he or she will contribute to a resolution.
  • Evaluate progress and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Praise people for their participation.

You get to decide whether you put a band aid on conflict or you resolve it permanently. Savvy leaders enjoy happy workplaces where their employees are trained in how to move past conflicts and interact positively. What will you do to practice long-term conflict resolution?

Take care,


Self-Awareness and The Big Mouth

People who lack self-awareness have no idea what’s coming out of their mouths and they’ll say things that reveal their inner thoughts and get them in trouble at work and at home. We see examples of this all around us when people make sexist, racially tinged or other inappropriate or clumsy comments because they have limited understanding of how their statements might affect others. It happens a lot in the workplace when leaders trample on their employees or hurt them in some way without realizing that there are other options.

A major element of self-awareness is the ability to practice effective communication, as in, thinking before you speak and, more importantly, being as healthy a person as you possibly can be so that you understand how not to step on others. Here are some tips to heal a case of big mouth:

  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Resist the urge to say the first thing that comes to your mind.
  • Ask yourself how your words might be perceived by others.
  • If you think what you have to say might be offensive, it will likely be.
  • Clarify what’s going on by asking open-ended questions.
  • Ask people for feedback.
  • Watch people’s facial expressions and reactions.
  • Choose to step outside yourself and consider others’ feelings.
  • Think of a kind way of saying things.
  • Say things that build people up.
  • Monitor your own body language and reactions.

When you practice these behaviors you’ll run a far smaller risk of finding a foot lodged in your mouth and you’ll build a more compassionate and respectful workplace. You’ll also save time and effort because you won’t have to deal with the misunderstandings or conflicts that arise when the message is clouded by extraneous elements. What will you do to make sure you’re communicating effectively, kindly and compassionately?

Take care,


Are You Happy?

There’s a big difference between saying you’re happy and behaving in ways that reflect genuine joy, fulfillment and balance. If you’re actively practicing self-awareness, you know that finding happiness is an ongoing learning and growth process. You can’t just wake up one day and declare that you’re happy, it requires gradual, deliberate and conscious work. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re genuinely happy:

  • In what ways does my current career reflect my dreams?
  • In what ways do I feel long-term happiness?
  • In what ways am I actively healing my unresolved issues?
  • In what ways can I like myself more?
  • In what ways can I improve how I treat myself?
  • In what ways am I learning and growing each day?
  • In what ways am I building self-awareness each day?
  • In what ways am I becoming emotionally healthy each day?
  • In what ways can I improve how I interact with others?

Each day is an opportunity to become a more well-rounded individual in your personal or professional life. The key to being authentically happy is to move beyond temporary or superficial contentment to feeling fulfilled on a deeper level. You’ll know you’re genuinely happy when you think and function in a way that reflects who you really are deep inside. What will you do to be truly happy?

Take care,


Do You Praise too Much?

Praise is one of the most valuable leadership tools to motivate and energize your employees but many leaders are skeptical about whether it works because they have so little experience using it in the workplace or in their personal lives. When I facilitate workshops on praise, three questions often arise:

What if you praise too much?

There is no such thing as praising too much because employees and co-workers like to hear they’re doing well. Praising increases the likelihood that people will repeat the behavior you highlight and it also helps them feel great. When you tell someone she is doing well, she’ll tend to want to do more work and think of other ways to contribute.

What if it’s insincere?

Most leaders aren’t insincere and will praise genuinely. We’ve become accustomed to praise seeming insincere because it’s often part of some phony corporate initiative where uncaring leaders arbitrarily walk around saying fake nice things to employees or create a program that only recognizes a few people. Your experience will be different because you know what your employees are doing well and how to praise people meaningfully.

What if there’s nothing to praise?

If you don’t look for the positive things people are doing then you won’t be able to praise them. It’s your decision whether you focus on the negative and constantly correct people or you catch them doing something well. There is always something to praise, it’s up to you as a leader whether you see and acknowledge it.

One of the key characteristics of self-awareness is being able to get out of your head long enough to stop thinking about how important you are and realize that there are people doing wonderful things around you. There are many opportunities to praise people, it’s up to you whether you take action. What will you do to praise more often?

Take care,