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Strategic self-insight and the secret behind well functioning teams

Effective Leadership

Strategic self-insight and the secret behind well functioning teams

Three steps to strategic self-insight - how behavioural change can contribute to effectively dealing with change.

If your environment does not perceive your behaviour as you intend it, you cannot expect to get the desired effect. We've all had to deal with colleagues who promise to do something, but nothing ever comes of it. Or a boss who behaves completely unreasonably. It's times like these that make you wonder what really goes on in some people's heads. The funny thing is, your boss and co-worker have probably thought the same thing about you. How much (strategic) self-insight do you have?


Strategic self-awareness is about mapping our personal qualities to identify which behaviours come easily to us and which behaviours require more energy. In this way one can become more aware of their strengths and challenges. At the same time, all colleague find themselves in completely different circumstances, meaning that everyone feels and acts differently in exactly the same situation.


In order to change less successful behaviours and habits, one must first become aware of one's actual way of working. The first step towards strategic self-insight is examining the current situation: 'How do I work?'. The next step is to analyse how the behaviour is perceived by others.

Someone who has a very direct way of communicating can hurt others without them really being aware of it. Someone who is incredibly determined and always has a clear plan may be perceived by others as a control freak. Similarly, those inclined to take more pleasure in their work may be viewed as reckless by the control freak.


A problem many organisations experience is that the money invested in comprehensive leadership and development programs does not lead to better performance or behavioural change. The past few months have been very stressful for organisations whose leadership is built around presence. The home office has wiped out one of their most important tools. Something very powerful in leadership suddenly no longer exists, forcing you to find other keys. Insight into how oneself and others can be, can be used as a framework for the development of managers and teams.


For a leader, strategic self-awareness becomes an important tool for shaping more effective behaviour. In the past, the concept of 'change management & leadership' was a classic spin-off when it came to leadership. Now it surrounds everything. It requires leaders to change their way of doing things compared to one year ago. As soon as the company, or even the employees, need to do things differently, behavioural change is also demanded from the manager.

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This does not mean that a personality has to change, it is rather a shift in behaviour. When behaviour changes, it feels uncomfortable. One positions oneself closer to the edge of the box one normally stays within. However, by working with focused behavioural efforts, one can train to feel more comfortable.

'Hiding' behavior and shortcomings behind 'I am who I am' will not help the organisation to get the maximum value out of someone. It's about becoming more aware of how a person automatically acts and training them to act differently. This may not make us a different person, but it allows us to act strategically, with the insights we have about ourselves and our environment as a starting point.


  1. Determine how your personal qualities affect your work. What do you do without thinking? What requires more energy from you?
  2. Think about how your behaviour might be perceived by your environment. Feel free to think about your behaviour based on different situations (like when you're stressed, tired, happy, or angry).
  3. Ask a colleague to work out steps 1 and 2 about you as well. Then discuss your answers. Does the image you have of yourself match your colleague's image of you? Why or why not?


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