Tag Archives: development

Know yourself – an introduction


In a lot of my previous posts I have always said to be successful in most endeavours you have to know yourself. Self-awareness can be a big differentiator in the business world. There are many tools and models out there to help you understand aspects of your personality. All are flawed and debated in one way or another.

So where do you start?

Well if you have chosen to become more self-aware then you have already made the first step. If you are reading this and are curious you have the most important tool to becoming more self-aware. Alongside this you must be driven to discovering more about yourself, particularly in times of difficulty. The third skill you will require is honesty with yourself. We are all pre-programmed to protect ourselves physically and we learn to protect ourselves mentally as well. No one likes to know they are bad at something or have it pointed out. The skill of acknowledging your flaws will allow you continue to be curious and determined.

The first tool you will need is to find out your preferred learning style. If you want to learn more about yourself, tapping into your preferred learning style will make this happen quicker and easier. 

So step 1 into better self-awareness is your learning style.

There are 2 main models of learning style which are in general use. These are:

Honey and Mumford’s learning styles which are activist/reflector/pragmatist/theorist. You can learn more about this model here.

The second is the VAK learning styles – visual/auditory/kinaesthetic. You can learn more about this one here.

Both of these models display preferences and you may have a mixture of these. Indeed, there may be parts of these and other models which resonate with you together. If this is already happening then you are more self-aware than you realise. If not don’t be discouraged. This is where your curiosity and determination will come into play. I would recommend learning more about these tools and others until you find things that make sense to your actions. 

Alongside all these models I will offer my own perspective on learning. I believe that learning preferences, particularly in the case of skill development,  can fall on 2 continuums: social or individual and imposed and free learning. 




A social learner will receive learning points and evaluation from others while an individual learner will create their own learning objectives and will self-evaluate, however representative this may be.

Structured learning will have a set of criteria and objectives often using a curriculum like a school class to increase learning where free learning is born out of experience and reflection on that experience. Free learning does require more curiosity as it can have no start point or end point. 

You may place your own comfort area on both continuums which will land in one of the four quadrants. Examples of learning situations from all quadrants are;

Someone who is a social free learner may observe and reflect on skills in social situations or may discuss issues with a coach.

Someone who is an individual free learner may improve skills through practice, such as speech giving in front of the mirror.

Someone who is an individual structured learner may learn from textbooks, online courses or in classroom situations.

Someone who is a social structured learner may learn best in group tasks such as team building exercises or may conduct a 360 degree feedback exercise and pull together their conclusions.

If we look back to the honey and mumford and VAK models, these would resonate most with individual structured learners. In opposition there may be some of you who would like to discover your learning style and may want to discuss this with a group, being a social free learner.

The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer to self-awareness and that these tools or mindsets can only be used by you to help discover more about yourself. 

If you are still interested in becoming more self-aware then my next few blog posts will cover more tools and ideas to help discover more about yourself and how you can use this knowledge to achieve more.

Thanks for reading.



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Don’t judge, improve


As a leader you need to know how your staff perform. You can benchmark them against each other picking out your top performers and those that need to shape up. You judge them based on productivity reports but also on what you have seen in the day to day runnings. You can comfortably gauge your employees so there will be no surprises in planning.

Of course, your employees completely agree with your viewpoint, right?

This all comes down to the self-fulfilling prophecy. However much you want a staff member to improve their performance, if you believe they are an under-performer, it will show through in your actions. On the other hand, you may have full confidence in someone you think is a high performer. They may actually be struggling.

Stop judging your employees!

While this works for an individual who you judge worthy it has the completely opposite effect on everyone else. It can be a real disengager. To balance out the issue of “favourites” don’t focus on performance but focus on improvement. If you think everyone can perform and then focus on their improvement your actions toward them will be completely different. It will allow you to continually challenge each of your team to outperform without the pressure of a target. It will build sustainable performance. It will build engagement. It will build trust and loyalty. Used correctly it will build a learning organisation/team.

So rather than wanting your team to perform at a certain level, just want them to improve. No matter how they are performing only focus your actions on improvement. Your mindset will control your actions. And that will speak volumes.

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