Self-awareness in management

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The article is about how self-awareness is a key tool for your emotional intelligence management skills. How knowing yourself helps you regulate yourself and your behaviour. When you know how you react and feel you will see the clues from others and have easier decoding people. You will have an understanding of what can tricker a heated response from you and how to control the reaction more calmly. Still showing a response so people know if you are satisfied with their job or not. Nothing worse than having to guess what the boss is thinking.

No one likes a yelling boss so let’s try learning how not to be one.

Big idea [1]


Emotional intelligence is a huge advantage in management. It can make you a better colleague, boss, and project/program/portfolio manager. When you are working on projects with a big group of people with different backgrounds it can help you manage the group and the relationships in the group. It is a great tool when you are working with stakeholders on your projects. Being able to read the stakeholder can make the cooperation go a lot smoother. Emotional intelligence is put into 4 groups[2]:

  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management
  • Self-awareness


How we control ourselves and regulate our behaviours and emotions. How we respond to different things in our lives can have a huge impact on how people see us. No one likes a manager that is always yelling when something goes wrong and on the other side can it be stressful to work with people that you can not read. If you do not show some response on good and bad news and tell you works how they are doing their job it can be difficult for people to know where they stand. Self-management does not mean that you do not respond at all it is about responding in the right way.

Social awareness

How you work with other people. When you are doing a lot of group work it is important to keep people happy and satisfied. You will not be able to keep everyone happy all the time. But sometimes it is just about being heard in the crowd or getting a “good job” from a colleague that makes people's day. Being aware of these things can be a game-changer for group work. Sometimes the best thing you can do is lean back and just observe and listen to people talking.

Relationship management

Engaging with other people can be hard. There can be some cultural differences in how people work and show emotions. This can make a lot of conflicts in a team or group work. Learning how to communicate with people from different fields and cultures is key to finding common ground in a team. Common ground is a place where everyone can agree on something. Maybe not everything but at least some of it. Finding common ground and having clear communication is the key to having a good base for handling conflicts in the team.


Self-awareness is argued to be the most important one of the 4. But self-awareness is not just about showing empathy when someone tells you something is wrong. It is also reading the body language and noticing people's feelings from behaviour. Self-awareness can be the dealbreaker key to project management. Self-awareness is how you react and recognize your feelings. To know one’s trickers and how you react to complications gives a huge advantage. You learn to control your reaction because you are aware of it. In self-awareness there is 5 elements[3][4]:

  • Self-Concept
  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Body
  • Emotions

If you have an understanding of these and how to use them, you have a better chance of having success in management and life.

Application [5]

Here we will look into Self-awareness and try to break it down in easier ways to implement. Taking a Personality test can give an idea of what kind of person you are and how you react in different situations. Who you are in a team of people? A lot of inside knowledge can be found from a personality test. It is a great way to get started on your journey to get to know yourself better. It gives you some pointers on how you handle different situations and are around people. Another way is to break down the five elements of self-awareness and go through them step by step.


Self-concept is about how you see yourself. Are you a serious business person or a laid-back scientist? What have you experienced before in life? Did you have a lot of challenges early in life or did you have everything handed to you? What are your dreams in life and where do you see yourself in the future, do you have a family or are you making a career? Then you are thinking about these things you should have a healthy view on it and yourself. How you experience this kind of thinking can be hard for some people and take time to understand and identify one’s goals in life. A lot of people just follow the flow, get an education, get kids, work, get old. But thinking out of the box and finding out if you have the same goals as people around you or if you want something else in life can be hard and take a lot of work with yourself.


Thoughts tell us a lot about how we see ourselves. When you are asked to describe yourself what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it positive or is it connected to your mood at the moment? Our mood affects our thoughts a lot. If you have a period with a lot of negativities around you, it affects your mood and how your outlook on the world is and on yourself. You can change your mindset over time by practising it. Dig down and find the reason for your thoughts and what you can do to change them. Try saying 3 positive things about yourself every day in the mirror. Some days it is going to be hard to think of even one thing and if nothing comes to mind. Find someone that likes you and ask them, what they like about you. With time you will start getting sweeter with yourself and one day you will have more than just 3 words to say with no need from others.


The feeling is how you feel about then people talk about you and then you talk about yourself. Like when people tell you that you are nice. Do you feel that you agree, or do you get a feeling that the person does not know you? Learning to take compliments and believing them can be hard. Then you get a compliment take a step back and take a minute and try to analyze how it makes you feel. What was your first feeling? Was it positive, negative, or neutral? Are you happy about the feeling response you had to the situation? If you are not happy with your response. Try breaking down why you felt that way and how you would like to feel about it next time.

Body [6]

Our way of reaction to situations and information is a physical response. It can be an increase in heart rate, facial expression, blushing, and much more. By being aware of your reactions you stop your reactions or change them. As a child that was a picky eater, I learned not to show if I disliked the food that was served. It helped to keep me out of trouble and that is a form of self-awareness. So next time you are a reaction to something take a moment to think about why you did react that way and if that is how you wanted to react if you could choose. Was it a big or small reaction, did people notice it?


Emotions are probably the hardest to control. But it is important to control and recognize it, in yourself and others. People that do not show many emotions are harder to work with. You never know if you did something right or wrong unless they tell you. But being able to control your emotions when in a discussion with people can be a huge advantage in a psychological manner. When you start feeling emotions coming up, good or bad try and keep them inside of you. If you are getting mad or frustrated with people, take a deep breath, and listen. If that does not help in the situation try removing yourself from the situation and calm down. When alone try and break down how your emotions made you feel.

The 5 put together

By Putting Self-Concept, Thoughts, Feelings, Body, and Emotions together you get self-aware. You get emotionally intelligent and that can help you in a lot of situations. You know how to read others' emotions and you learn to control your own. To read the room of a meeting and where it is going. Being able to listen to the opinion of a meeting can help find common ground on how the best solution is made or how it is not made. Sometimes finding common ground on how not to do a project can be very helpful to find common ground for a solution. In the beginning, you will master a few of them and already there you will begin to see a difference in how you deal with people and how you present yourself. You will start to feel better about yourself and in control of yourself. Starting to do more of what makes you happy and less of what is draining your energy. Then you start to use the tools and take a step back and analyze the different situations and behaviour you will also get to see what trickers you and what is draining you. By knowing this you can cut out the things you do not like. When you step back to analyze a happy feeling you get to know that gives you energy and what you like to spend your time on.

Limitations [7]

The limit in self-awareness is centred on oneself. How in touch are you with your inner self? For some people being in touch with your emotions and thoughts is easy and a normal thing. For others, it is something new and difficult. It can be frustrating to try to put words on one feelings, thoughts, reactions, and emotions. Sometimes when you start this project you will not like what you see in yourself. But a part of the self-awareness is that you now get aware of it and can make a change. Everyone is wired with some perceptions from their upbringing that do not align with their perception of things. This can be hard to change because it has been that way for a long time, and it was what you are told as a child. Changing the view in the brain is a hard task that can take some time. If everyone is super self-aware it can be hard to read the room because everyone is in some way controlling their response. You do not get the outburst from people that are disagreeing but a more professional behaviour.

Another limitation is overthinking. Always thinking of how you are reacting, behaving, and feeling in front of people can be exhausting. If you do not have a safe space with friends and family where you can just be yourself without you having to be a certain way and just relax. Sometimes you will feel like an imposter and wonder if someone is going to make you. Of cause, at some point self-awareness is just something you are so do not overthink it in the beginning. Go with the flow and start then something you did, does not align with how you wanted to react.

Overanalyzing is a limitation that can hurt your management skills. Always trying to read and analyze people can be exhausting. Trying to find out if people are showing their true feelings or hiding something can be hard. Sometimes you will get it wrong because you made up signs that were not really to make sense of another sign. So sometimes you have to take a step back from analyzing and just make things happen.


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