effective manager

Becoming An Effective Manager Begins With Self Awareness

By David Mizne

One of the most effective manager practices to improve employee performance is the one-on-one meeting. However, to help your employees get the most out of every meeting and give them proper guidance, managers must first understand their own strengths and weaknesses.

At 15Five, we’ve architected a leadership framework called Best-Self Management. This philosophy is taught through our Best-Self Academy and focuses on managing people and teams to unlock their highest potential versus only managing behaviors, outcomes, and performance.

In this post, we’ll share three Best-Self Management practices to help you increase your self-awareness and overall manager effectiveness.

1. Determine your strengths 

Before you can inspire others, you must first inspire yourself. How can you help employees find excitement in their work when you’re less than enthusiastic about your own goals? 


To self inspire, create a compelling vision for your career path by understanding your purpose, passions, values, and strengths. According to Gallup, “To best develop other workers’ strengths, managers first need to understand their own.” You can determine your strengths with a bit of self reflection and by taking the Clifton Strengths Finder and VIA Character surveys.

After you’ve determined your top strengths, the next step is to align your work with those strengths. Ask yourself what type of work brings you energy and joy. Fulfillment at work comes from leveraging your strengths and doing work that’s personally meaningful. Once you’ve done that, you can guide your employees through the same process. 

2. Formulate new habits 

Forming new work habits requires a formula that includes motivation, simplicity, reminders, and patience—effective managers do this exceptionally well.

Because habit change is hard, only focus on the important behaviors you’d like to improve. Choose new practices that will create significant value and contribute to your wellbeing. 

Behavioral scientist, BJ Fogg, developed the B=MAP formula (“Behavior (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment.”) Fogg asks, “What are the most important, urgent changes you want to make?” Consider framing this as what you want to start, not what you want to stop. 

Fogg advises that you start small. For example, start by asking colleagues, “How are you?” at the beginning of meetings to show that you care rather than aiming to become the most caring person at my company.

You’ll also want to hold yourself accountable by creating reminders that help you break patterns of automatic thinking. Without reminders (some researchers call these triggers), you won’t engage in the desired new behavior. Old-school reminders like sticky notes and calendar notifications are also helpful.

And finally, be patient and forgiving. Habit change can take 50 or even 100 days, not the mythical 21 days we always hear about. Many people false-start on new habits, so remember to appreciate the times that you make progress towards your new habit and don’t let mistakes or missed opportunities influence the next one.

3. Adopt a coaching mindset

For some of us, giving advice feels great, but how we feel in the short-term is not an accurate measurement of effective management. Adopting a coaching mindset is helpful for a variety of reasons, including developing relationships, guiding employee development, and resolving issues before they can grow. 

“When something goes wrong, individuals and teams are rushing into unsustainable and ineffective solutions rather than staying with problem identification and solving. When we fix the wrong thing for the wrong reason the same problems continue to surface,” according to Brene Brown.

Our Chief Culture Officer, Shane Metcalf, teaches a Best-Self Academy course called “Coaching as Manager.” In this course, Shane shows managers how to let others cultivate their esteem by helping employees find the answer for themselves. Solving others’ problems will definitely help move things forward, but it’s a lost opportunity to help them develop the same skills that you’ve developed. 

Effective managers listen deeply, know when to be silent, and ask the right questions to help the other person arrive at their own conclusion. It takes a commitment to personal growth, practice, and a shift in mindset to guide people to success. But when managers can become more self aware of their own behaviors, then they become better equipped to guide others on their own growth trajectories.

David Mizne 15Five

David Mizne produces the Best-Self Management podcast and is a senior manager at 15Five, people & performance software that includes continuous feedback, OKR tracking, 1-on-1s, 360° reviews, the Best-Self Academy, and Transformational Services. David’s articles have also appeared on The Next Web, HR Daily Advisor, and The Economist.

Image credit: Shutterstock


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