Self-awareness is a trait of any good leader. Being a good leader requires being a good observer. Being a good observer is more than just self-awareness. Observing oneself is essential, but observing others provides another angle to absorb. Together, observing self and others creates richer insights to use.
Why does being a good observer matter?
Life and work are a blur, speeding by as we try to keep all the right things spinning at the right pace. Getting the balance right is good enough but good enough does not enable us to entangle our life work in a real, purposeful way. Being dizzy does not produce lasting results.
Being a good observer enables us to take a step back and peer into ourselves and others. Just looking produces nothing. Observing produces insights when we assess for patterns, styles, and results. Why observing matters is centered here – discerning patterns, styles, and results.
Before diving into patterns, styles, and results, let’s step back for context. We can observe many things, from nature to traffic to storms to just about anything. What we observe in the out-of-the-ordinary may produce a moment of wonder that we can apply. However, in our daily rummage, the things closest to us may produce the most relevant and meaningful observations. The key is to take the time to step back and piece together our puzzle. Being a good observer begins here.
The things closest to us to observe can be broken down into a simple two by two, consisting of work and life and self and others. I would argue most of our daily interactions happen here. The goal is not to constrain our observations but to understand the interesting habits with the elements closest to us.
When we look at ourselves, we participate at least 8 hours a day in a work environment. We spend the other 16 hours in a life environment.
In the “Self” column, we are a colleague or partner. Our work environment provides a stage in which we interact with others to accomplish tasks, projects, and initiatives. Our life environment provides an arena in which we build relationships to help each other or take on other interests that develop us as good human beings.
Moving to the “Others” column, our work and life environments contain many characters and stories. We can see how others collaborate in their workplaces. We can see how others are citizens in their communities.
Within each place and orientation, we observe the good and bad. We can observe what we do well and not so well. We can observe what others do well and not so well. Each delivers a meaningful learning moment if we take the time to observe, consider, and act. Acting from observations is changing our habits to be a better person. Emerging from our observational boxes is what type of leader we are and want to become.
Observing alone is just looking out the window. Observing, deciding what is learned, and then acting in a better-aware way are keys to being a more rounded leader. The window we are peering through reflects back into the window of our soul. From here, our wheels of inspiration and aspiration turn in a positive way.
Being an observer within each area delivers a generous view in which we can see patterns, styles, and results.
Observer of Patterns, Styles, and Results
Why being a good observer is important moves to patterns, styles, and results. Within each, we learn and lead in a better-aware manner. After all, self-aware is just one part of the formula. The other part contains being aware of others. Together, better-aware emerges as the new standard. The formula: Self-Aware + Other-Aware = Better-Aware. Just wanted to clarify my terms.
Patterns are what connections we can make with behaviors, actions, inactions, conversations, thoughts, etc. Patterns are connection points we make, seeing a bigger picture or direction that is negative or positive.
Styles are what behaviors and approaches we detect that sets an individual apart from others. What sets someone apart can be positive behaviors, methods, and attitudes or negative behaviors, methods, and attitudes. The good and the bad produce insights of what we should do and what we should avoid.
Results are outcomes. Some are successful in meaningful ways. Some are unsuccessful in many ways. Tying patterns and styles together with results enable us to determine what our patterns and styles should be to get our best life and work results.
Questions we need to answer across the spectrum include:
- What works?
- What does not work?
- What gets us in trouble?
- What gets others sidetracked?
- What facilitates short-term success?
- What enables sustainable, meaningful success?
- How is success defined?
- What guides careers in meaningful ways?
- What makes conversations energizing?
- What does a good listener do?
- What are the results of being self-centered?
- What are the results of giving more than taking?
- What makes relationships work?
- What tears relationships apart?
- Am I loving?
- Can I receive love?
- What will I tolerate?
- What makes some intolerant?
- What makes some intolerable?
More questions will develop as we observe more.
The answers fill in the gaps and enliven an observer to gain the most of what they see, hear, and sense. What we gain as an observer is a stronger heart. More than strength, we gain an open heart. An open heart is a strong one, and it is one in which we strive to be a better person and leader.
Why does being a good observer matter? It matters because observing well creates better lessons for us to embrace and put into action. Being a good observer translates into being an empathetic leader, one who adapts and creates a legacy others may remember.
Does being a good observer matter? If it does, what enables someone to be a good observer and what do they gain by being one?