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Closing Your Awareness Gap

September 1, 2023

How consistent are you?

If we were a betting person, we’d be placing a pretty safe bet to say you’re a good (no, bloody fantastic!) person. You rock up to work with the best intentions; to do great work and have a positive impact.

With that in mind, when was the last time you opened your laptop and thought was “Who can I piss off today?” Never. 

So although you have positive intentions, you do not always have a positive impact. And whilst we judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our impact. We call the difference between the two your Awareness Gap.

And yes you have one. 

As does your best work buddy. As does your manager. As does every single person you work with. 

How to close the gap

The challenge is how to close it, especially knowing that the more senior you become, the wider the gap often gets. It’s something we’ll talk a lot about. But, to get you started, here are four things you can do today to better understand your Awareness Gap and how to close it:

1) Ask five people you trust for some feedback.

Specifically, one thing you do that makes you a great leader. And one behaviour that is detracting from your ability to be an extraordinary leader.

2) Create more headspace for yourself

Block out 5-10 minutes before and after every meeting you have in the next week to get in the right headspace. Try it for a week and evaluate the value it’s had. 

Before each meeting ask yourself “What does a successful outcome from this meeting look like? How do I need to show up? What impact do I want to have?” 

After the meeting ask yourself “How did the meeting go? How did I actually show up? What impact did I have? What would I want to change next time?”

Tip… If your calendar is back-to-back then challenge whether a) you need to actually be in every meeting and b) negotiate if those meetings can be 10 minutes shorter (they almost always can!)

You can also apply this same technique to your daily or weekly schedules if you prefer a different cadence for self reflection.

3) Practice self regulation

Try out a few self-regulation techniques and see what works for you. The idea is when you’re feeling stressed or anxious and about to behave in a way that’s not aligned to how you wanted to show up, you do something that brings you back in control and to choose a different behaviour. It might be taking a deep breath, counting to three, pinching your fingertips or feeling your feet on the ground.

4) Get ahead of your to-do list

One of the biggest reasons we don't show up as our best selves is because we feel on the back foot. When we know we're not on top of things, we can get defensive and resentful of additional pressure. Our ability to cope and respond appropriately can go out of the window. One tip we find works is to block out time in your diary on a Friday to plan for the next two weeks ahead. Use this time to decide what you can delegate from your to-do list and book in that conversation so you're giving that person fair warning of what you'd like them to take on. Schedule some emails for Monday morning. Plan a team meeting. Fridays are the perfect time for planning ahead. Use them wisely.

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