7 Signs You Are Not Self-Aware


Your level of self-awareness plays a vital role in your ability to be an effective leader, manager or team member.

To work well with others we must first seek to understand ourselves. This journey of self-awareness is one that is life-long. It is constructed of ups and downs, happy times and worrying times. You are most successful when you move through the events and interactions in your life with mindfulness and intrigue at discovering the nuances that make up ourselves and of those around us.

I read an interesting article published in Inc.com and written by author of “Real Leaders Don’t Follow” Steve Tobak. Tobak describes his 7 Signs that indicate you may not be as self-aware as you think. I agree with this list and encourage you to check these characteristics against your own behaviours.

“The truth is there are lots of paths people take to avoid confronting whatever it is they don’t want to confront. And those paths can lead to career demise or business destruction. No kidding.”   – Steve Tobak –


If you didn’t have emotions, you wouldn’t be human. Feelings are important guidance mechanisms. Anger and aggression are no different. They’re signs that you feel threatened or scared. You go on the offensive and bully to protect something deep within you, something you don’t want people to see, often feelings of weakness and vulnerability. Ironic, isn’t it?



When chief executives resist a consultant or executive coach who wants to meet with their staff or outside directors one-on-one, when genuine and objective feedback makes them agitated or even angry, that’s a sure sign. I’m not even sure why they call it “defensive, since defensive people almost always deflect by going on the offensive.



When you behave in a controlling way-when you micromanage, pick on the little things–it usually means you’re not dealing with a big thing that’s really bugging you. It means you’re not paying attention to something really important. Left unchecked, that can definitely take you down a dark path.



When you say, “Sure, no problem,” then turn around and do the exact opposite, it means you don’t want to confront others or be confronted by them. It’s a deflection, an attempt to throw them off the scent so you don’t have to deal with something that affects you deeply. Again, it’s usually something you’re not consciously aware of, something that makes you feel vulnerable or embarrassed.



When your behaviour changes to the point where it’s noticeable to others who know or work with you, that’s definitely a sign that you’re really bothered by something and not aware of how it’s affecting your mood. If someone brings it to your attention and you’re defensive, that’s an even bigger sign.



When we make over-the-top overtures to how confident we are in our ideas, our plans, our business, when our strategies defy objective reasoning or our goals don’t pass the smell test, that’s a sign we’re genuinely in over our heads and are overcompensating to appear like we’ve got everything under control. I’ve seen and worked with quite a few CEOs in grandiose mode. If they don’t come to terms with it, it never ends well.



Excuses, any kind of excuses, are ways of avoiding or deflecting negative attention. Pointing fingers and blaming others are common avoidance techniques that communicate our resistance to being held accountable. That’s why playing the blame game is such a transparent sign of dysfunctional leadership or management. And yet, we see it all-too-often, don’t we?

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