The emotional intelligence skill of self-awareness is often referred to as the MEGA soft skill for life and business success. And for a good reason. Because that which you are not aware of you cannot change. And that which you are not aware of you are bound to repeat.
Without the EQ skill of self-awareness, hardworking sales managers continue to make the same leadership mistakes over and over and over.
Here are a few scenarios that demonstrate how low self-awareness impacts sales management success.
#1. Relationship building and coaching. I’ve been a member of the hurried and harried club. However, I wasn’t really aware of how this approach to business affected my success as a leader. I had a “duh” moment around the impact of this approach to business following three different conversations that all started the same way.
“I know you are really busy so I will make this quick.”
For some reason, I had a lightbulb moment. I became aware of my behavior which was conveying a very loud message, “Hurry up….we don’t have a lot of time.”
Low self-awareness around this blind spot was affecting my ability to hold deeper conversations with members of my team. People felt like they needed to speed talk through the conversation. Some salespeople probably held back agenda items because of my “I’m busy signal.”
Low self-awareness impacted building deeper relationships because building connections and trust is not a hurry up and get “R” done event.
#2: Telling too much and coaching too little. Here’s a hypothetical coaching opportunity. A salesperson brings a challenge to their sales manager. Without self-awareness, the sales leader immediately offers up ideas and solutions before understanding the full context of the question or challenge. The sales manager has just turned into a professional teller.
As a result, a salesperson’s learning and growth is stunted.
You are coming up with all the answers rather than coaching your salespeople how to think, problem solve and be confident in their decision making.
#3: Emotionally triggering people. Sales managers with low self-awareness often don’t recognize how they “land on other people.” As human beings, we don’t see ourselves the way other see us. For example:
You think you are being assertive in a meeting---but everyone else sees you as a bull in a china shop.
You see yourself as a passionate supporter of an initiative. Everyone else sees you as a loose cannon.
You see yourself as confident and self-assured. Others see you as arrogant and pompous.
The good news is that emotional intelligence skills can be learned and improved. Take these five steps to build this important emotional intelligence skill.
- Carve out quiet time every day to reflect on how you showed up that day. Practice the habits of Benjamin Franklin. He identified 13 virtues and at the end of the day he evaluated himself. He placed a dot next to each virtue that he didn’t demonstrate that day. His goal was to minimize the number of marks, thus indicating a “clean” life free of vice. Now, that’s a practice that demonstrates and builds self-awareness.
- Find a trusted colleague and ask them for feedback on blind spots. (They are called blind spots for a reason.) This is a colleague who has your back. Their only motive is to help you become the best version of yourself by telling you the truth.
- Pay attention. I mean really pay attention. Stop talking. Look up and around to observe how your actions are landing on others. It can be as simple as watching for a change in body language, listening for a change in tonality or sensing there is a question that should be asked that is not being asked.
- Ask members of your sales team for help. If you’ve identified an area for improvement, give your sales team permission to point out when you are falling into non-productive behaviors. For example, when you start giving advice before asking the salesperson for their perspective, ask your sales team to hold up “the hand.” This physical cue is a fun and effective way to change your pattern of being a professional teller.
- Lose the ego. You’ve had a lot of success in your life. However, life is a continuous journey of learning and improvement. Be aware that you are not always aware of how your actions affect others.
Self-awareness is the MEGA emotional intelligence skill. Improve your self-awareness and you will improve your other awareness.