Self-awareness is powerful and transformative. While the process that precipitates it might often be arduous, unexpected or even frightening to some, a single moment of insight can lead to changes that can alter an individual’s trajectory and functioning significantly – and together with some practical guidance, for the better.
This is a fact that business coach and leadership development specialist Robyn Jackson can attest to. In fact, she is so taken by the concept that she is currently doing a PhD around the research question: does behavioral self-awareness lead to adaptability in organisational leaders? Her research proposal was recently accepted by the international committee responsible for reviewing her submission at UCT’s Graduate School of Business and she proudly admits that much of the formulation was based on the Contribution Compass.
Robyn, who completed her Contribution Compass Facilitator Course earlier in 2017, has been in the corporate arena for many years heading up large companies among others and recently decided to focus on furthering her studies with a specific focus on leadership. As part of her training on our facilitator programme she conducted a ‘Maximising Team Contribution’ one-day workshop with Indwe Risk Management Services. Her experience with the team was one she proudly reflects on after having received post-event feedback which demonstrates the value of profiling in business and the importance self-awareness plays in harmonious team functioning.
“I was actually approached by somebody who heard I was doing profiling and said he is in the insurance industry and he is sitting with this issue. At his company, Charles was the second in charge and he had to take over and look after his staff while his boss was overseas for a couple of months. But the staff were disjointed, they didn’t understand anything he wanted and he was so worried and panicked. He said, ‘can you help me understand this?’ And I said, ‘definitely’. Because what the profiling does is help you understand yourself and how to deal with other people,” says Robyn.
To Charles, it affected him knowing that he was struggling to lead the team. What eventually came to light, following the completion of his Contribution Compass profile, was that he was a Coach profile. The Coach profile sits at the heart of the Inspiring natural energy category, known for being people and relationship oriented, and can be quite attuned to interpersonal dynamics and harmony. The rest of the team however were either of the Tempering or Sustaining natural energy categories and while the Sustaining types are still slightly people oriented, Tempering types prefer to rather deal with data and analysis. The situation that revealed itself was a misunderstanding within the team around their engagement dynamics and interpersonal communication styles, resulting in internal friction and much of the frustration he was experiencing.
“He was a Coach in the insurance brokerage industry which has a lot of analytical people, so there were a lot on the left-hand side of the Contribution Compass wheel – Tempering energies. There were many Conductors and Custodians. Very much the methodical, organised figures and factual people, which is sort of synergistic with the industry. He was however a Coach, so his main focus was people and he wondered, ‘well why don’t they like me?’ You know when they actually sat down and did their profiles it hit them like a bucket of water in the face. It was that simple actually. Doing it at that level alone allowed them to let go of baggage off their backs. He has been going, ‘what am I doing wrong?’ All he was really doing was being true to who he was and they couldn’t understand it because people weren’t so important to them, facts and figures and everything that’s related to the insurance industry was.
“The intervention method brought about understanding, which is key to team dynamics. So people go, ‘ah okay, I’m normal.’ When they are able to release that baggage, they can stop judging. That was my key insight with this insurance company. You stop judging yourself and judging others. When they did that it was an emotional journey for a couple of people. They never realised that it was just naturally who they were, whereas before they just said they didn’t get on with that person. Now they will turn it into a constructive joke. They would say to a fellow Conductor, ‘okay, we need to step out of our little analytical box now and actually consider his feelings’. They are not laughing at him, they are laughing at the situation, saying we acknowledge that he is different. He is no worse or better than me and that is the judgement that people let go of. It was the most beautiful experience. It gets those monkeys off your back about self-judgement and judgement of others,” she says.
After having been involved and witnessing the powerful change that the intervention brought about, Robyn is all fired up and now wants to prove its value to the world. She says too often leadership research is a clichéd concept and construct that does not carry through practically in organisations. This, she says, is because while people are often involved in training, it has little retention value and is soon forgotten. When self-awareness is however improved or brought about in the process there is a mind-shift according to her.
What further encouraged her was that there were emotional responses during and after the process. This to her was a clear indication of the paradigm shift that took place in their minds and that true awareness was brought about. “You are actually altered forever. Key lesson learnt is that when you know yourself better and how you relate to others, you do not judge yourself or others as much, and once you release those judgements, that’s what allows you to connect,” she concludes.