10 Ways Self-Awareness Can Make You a Horrible Boss
A Note From The Editor
Think your company has what it takes to make our Top Company Cultures list? Apply now.Apply now »
Self-awareness can be extremely valuable. It puts you in finer tune with your thoughts and actions. This leads to greater personal growth, more meaningful interactions and, typically, more time doing what you love.
That being said, self-awareness comes at a cost. The more we know, the harder life can be. Greater self-awareness can lead you to realize things about yourself that you are not thrilled to find out. It can also take attention away from tasks that might be more immediately valuable.
In work, these negative externalities of self-awareness can easily express themselves. Here are 10 ways that it can make you a horrible boss that you should watch out for:
1. You can become too self-focused.
Heightened self-awareness makes you realize how much more there is to learn about yourself and the world. This sparks curiosity, which is often a great thing. As a boss, though, you have to focus on your employees. Thinking too deeply about yourself, or personal growth will be an inhibitor of putting enough attention towards your employees.
2. It can be more challenging to push out the distractions.
Being more self-aware tends to mean that you think more frequently. Every action, event and conversation has significance. Subsequently, seeing these significances causes distractions.
To be an effective boss, you have to be able to navigate distractions smoothly. Many will come up each day, and knowing which to focus on and which to forget is an invaluable skill. It is possible to forget about the distractions as a self-aware person. Doing so is just more challenging.
3. It makes you less inclined to give constructive feedback.
Higher self-awareness tends to create a better understanding of how your actions affect the way others feel. More empathy is great in helping others feel loved. As a boss, though, you will need to have difficult conversations. You have to be able to give constructive feedback to your employees. When bound by the negative feelings they might experience, you will be less likely to say anything in the first place.
It is critical, though, towards their own personal growth. It will also make your team more productive and open with each other.
4. It is easier to burn out or get jaded.
When we are sensitive to what is happening around us, we see all the issues in the world. People act irrationally. They are often not their true selves. Society can be unfair. Feeling and seeing all of these things is draining. Much of the world is challenging and there is significant inequality.
Without paying much attention, it is easy to overlook many of these issues. Doing so makes life a bit easier because it becomes a burden once you see the challenges that exist.
In the context of work, you will be more likely to see the shortcomings of those around you and the inefficiencies in processes. On one hand, this is great because you can better work to solve the problems you witness. On the other hand, though, many times the issues are near-impossible to reform. That makes work more exhausting. It becomes easier to burn out, and you will give less effort to your employees.
5. You might be inclined to overthink.
High levels of self-awareness lead to overthinking situations. Sometimes, that can help you do the right thing or find the hidden error. Many times, though, it means you will spend more cognitive effort than is needed. That leads to less time in the present moment as well as less creativity. Those are necessary qualities of a good boss.
6. It can inhibit action.
In hand with overthinking situations, self-awareness can inhibit action. Thinking about the consequences of your actions will always show you what could go wrong. Thinking in this way is detrimental. It will stop you from taking on projects. It will also tend to lead to greater risk aversion.
The best bosses are comfortable taking risks and chances. This attitude spreads to your employees if you have it. That will, ultimately, lead to a more productive and creative team.
7. You can come across as intimidating.
Hyper self-awareness can come across as intimidating. People that are always thinking tend to come across that way. It can make your employees nervous to act like themselves around you. If you are analyzing each situation and action, they will feel constantly scrutinized.
This will lead to a lower quality of work as well as higher levels of unease. You want to make your employees feel as comfortable at work as possible. Consequently, you do not want them believing that you are critically judging everything that they do. That will just be counterproductive.
8. You could come across as too serious.
It is also easy to come across as too serious when you are very self-aware. With a constantly churning mind, expressing more relaxed emotions can be overlooked. That is a mistake, though. In order to make those around you more comfortable and to get them to like you, you have to be able to act relaxed. That will, in turn, lead to stronger relationships with your employees and higher output.
9. You might be inclined to express emotions that do not fit the scenario.
When you see everything happening around you, you will be more likely to act. You might more easily recognize the shortcoming of an employee or a poor interaction between two coworkers. You will, therefore, be inclined to act accordingly. Doing so, though, is not always the most productive choice.
The best managers understand the human psyche and how their actions make other people feel and think. While self-awareness can help with this, it can also be detrimental. You might see someone slacking and be inclined to act on it immediately, for example.
With high self-awareness, it is easier to think about how you would respond in certain situations. In this case, you would want someone else to point out your shortcoming immediately. That does not mean the other person wants the same treatment, though. Giving them the response you would personally like can cause issues.
10. Too much compassion for employees.
Compassion for your employees is a great thing. It makes you a more understanding boss and also makes them feel better supported. Always seeing the good in others, though, comes with a cost.
In the work setting, performance is key. When you believe in people and the quality of their character, you will be more inclined to give them second and third chances. The best bosses know when their employees are underperforming and they are comfortable pulling the plug when needed. High levels of self-awareness and empathy can make this challenging.