Boosting Supervisors: 8 Tips to Better Understand Yourself, Others and Create Inclusion

Episode 063

Feb 28, 2024

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Understanding yourself is power - Loving yourself is freedom - Forgiving yourself is peace,

Being yourself is bliss.

~ Anonymous Quote ~

Top Tips [for Supervisors/Leaders/You]

Last week, we exchanged experiences and insights regarding transitioning from team members to supervisors.

Interestingly, Karin had a conversation with someone on Saturday about this topic, who shared how the individual who had taken over her role just three months ago requested to return to their previous position.

Numerous questions arise from this, particularly considering it's a high-senior position. It underscores the challenges inherent in such transitions.

So, we've decided to share valuable tips this week for supervisors and leaders to enhance self-awareness, understand others, and foster inclusive teams. While many discussions surround inclusive teams, starting with oneself is fundamentally crucial.

Before diving into tips for understanding oneself and others and creating inclusive teams, it's imperative to acknowledge that this journey isn't about altering one's identity. Fundamentally, you remain the same, but the goal is to evolve into the best version of yourself.

Nuala stumbled upon the above anonymous quote, which resonated deeply.

It states that understanding oneself is power, loving oneself is freedom, forgiving oneself is peace, and being oneself is bliss. Reflecting on this, we recall moments in life where we've donned masks to meet perceived expectations, leaving us devoid of power and freedom, far from peace, and certainly not in a state of bliss.

People discern these nuances.

Despite our attempts to maintain composure, our choice of words, mannerisms, and conversation engagement act as a mirror. It's a profound quote, and we're sure many of you can relate to its sentiment.

Now, let's explore our top tips for supervisors.

1- The Art of Curiosity

There's a wealth of research on this topic now, and as supervisors/leaders, it's becoming the number one skill to possess.

The wonderful thing is that curiosity can be learned. If it's something you've forgotten or pushed aside, you can reignite it.

So, curiosity is a genuine desire for knowledge and the motivation to seek new information. It's about always being filled with wonder, looking around, and driving learning and motivation.

It fosters empathy with those around us because if we're curious enough to understand why people are different, we can literally put ourselves in their shoes and understand where they're coming from.

It also aids critical thinking by going beyond what's immediately in front of you, promotes decision-making, and improves relationship skills.

We came across several articles that mentioned it's a key to life satisfaction and health. Curiosity about what's happening within and around us can lead to a healthier and better life, enabling us to be blissfully ourselves again.

Interestingly, curiosity and wonder are also antidotes to anxiety and fear.

From an emotional perspective, if someone's constantly anxious, they're closing themselves off to possibility. So, if we can shift our mindset in those moments, which is not always easy, we can counteract anxiety.

Sometimes, just moving from a state of anxiety to curiosity, even in a small way, can crack the anxiety and let in a little light into that dark mood.

The antidote to anxiety is curiosity - we just came up with this and the idea stems from years of knowledge and experience, personally and within teams.

When we think of learning teams, curiosity is essential, not just using the five Y's but going beyond that to a more open degree of curiosity and thought about what's happening in the system, with people, and in processes. That helps us learn and grow as organisations.

Part of that curiosity is understanding oneself better, such as understanding why you respond the way you do in certain situations, for example - How come I get on well with some people but not others?

We've often quoted, "I don't like that person. Best I get to know them better," and it's not always easy. But as supervisors, leaders, or anyone in a position of power, getting to know everyone in your team is essential to understand better what makes them tick.

It's not about liking or disliking - it's about understanding and perhaps more about permission and respect than whether I like or trust them. Trust is a risk assessment, too.

What are some ways we can get to know ourselves better?

Well, there's a whole range of diagnostic tools out there that you can use. We're big fans of personality diversity and understanding, which is fundamental to who we are and how we operate.

So, we use e-Colours and DiSC. We're certified in those tools and use them regularly in discussions about leadership, coaching, and teamwork.

Understanding the diversity within a team helps tremendously.

It's about being curious about ourselves, but it's also understanding there are other tools you can use; there's a range of them out there.

Also, if you are curious but the thought of your personality diversity tool or profiling makes you feel like you're going to be put into a box [which it is not at all, and we're dead against that], we encourage you to go back and listen to episode E029 where we discussed this more in-depth.

We use these tools as conversation starters and have a few of them in our toolbox. You can spend hours talking about it or using it as a catalyst for the next type of conversation and the types of behaviours that we exhibit and maybe why.

Johari's Window

offers a unique perspective on self-awareness and understanding others' perceptions of us. It divides our knowledge about ourselves into four categories:

  • What's known to you and others.
  • What's known only to you.
  • What's known only to others.
  • What's unknown to both.

This framework encourages us to uncover hidden aspects of ourselves, promoting authenticity and deeper connections in our interactions.

Boosting Supervisors: 8 Tips to Better Understand Yourself, Others and Create Inclusion - Johari Window

It also stirs up thoughts about the labels people put on themselves and how they influence self-perception and also how our internal dialogue reflects in our outward demeanour, sometimes without us even realising it.

This leads to the idea of seeking outside perspectives. For example, asking others to describe you in five words can reveal surprising insights. It's a reminder of the importance of being open to feedback from different sources, like team reviews, to understand oneself better.

One of the tools we like using is the conversational intelligence catalyst.

It's all about how we talk and interact as we step into roles as supervisors/leaders. Words can either bring people together or create tension, depending on how we use them. This tool helps us uncover any blind spots we might have in the way we communicate.

We have a series on conversational intelligence, which you can listen to if you're interested: Episodes E038 - E043 [links in the resource section below].

They highlight how curiosity is key; without curiosity, we might miss out on valuable growth opportunities.

2- Self-Management and Awareness

builds upon the fundamental trait of curiosity. It's about acknowledging our emotions, understanding what drives our behaviours, and taking a moment to ponder their roots.

Emotions can either lead us or act as signals, prompting us to pause and reflect.

Developing emotional literacy is crucial as emotions underpin our actions and decisions. It's a rich topic that merits further exploration, maybe even a podcast episode [watch this space].

Recently, Karin led a workshop where she engaged with leaders on this topic. The session was well-received, igniting interest and prompting ideas for future sessions, including exploring concepts like fast and slow-thinking brains, which is sure to pique curiosity.

3- Be prepared to be wrong

Another important tip is to be prepared to acknowledge when you're wrong.

Perfection is unattainable, and how you handle mistakes, especially as supervisors/leaders, is crucial. Embracing vulnerability is key here.

It's about understanding the concept of vulnerability and responding thoughtfully, whether to yourself or your team members.

Avoiding the urge to always be right is significant, although it's a challenge we might not even realise we're facing most of the time. It's like a persistent nagging feeling, compelling us to defend our viewpoint at all costs.

This mindset leads to transactional and confrontational conversations, fostering an atmosphere of "my way or the highway."

As supervisors/leaders, your responses shape the culture of learning and psychological safety within your team. Being open to admitting when you're wrong fosters trust and growth, even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

4- Listening without interrupting

The fourth tip we've included is about listening without interrupting, being fully present, and ensuring others feel valued and included in the conversation.

This practice is crucial for self-awareness and understanding others, particularly in fostering inclusive teams.

In coaching sessions, people often express challenges in finding the right time to engage in meaningful conversations, especially when multitasking or overseeing critical operations.

Developing the skill to respectfully defer conversations to a more suitable time demonstrates care and ensures that when discussions do occur, they receive undivided attention, whether work-related or personal.

Reflecting on how it feels to be unheard or interrupted underscores the importance of this skill.

Embracing silence as a tool for deeper understanding and allowing space for processing, especially in multicultural settings, demonstrates respect and fosters meaningful dialogue.

5- Ask questions for which you have no answers

Which leads to asking questions for which you have no answers.

Be curious [funny about that word; it keeps coming back - like a boomerang].

Asking questions for which you have no answers is a misunderstood skill. There's a common misconception that we must have all the answers, but in reality, even the greatest minds like Einstein didn't have all the answers. They kept iterating and being curious.

We recently discussed this in episode E051 - The Question is More Powerful Than the Answer [link in the resource section below].

Until you ask questions for which you have no answer, you don't know how to be the most useful person in that moment. It's not so much about what you need, but rather, what does the other person need?

Learning to ask the right questions isn't easy because it's not a skill we're taught.

So often, we ask the same question repeatedly without getting the desired answer, but that's when it's time to ask in a different way.

The good news is that we can help you and your teams learn how to ask better questions because it's all around conversation catalysts and creating conversations that matter, and questioning is a key component.

6- Ask others

And on the notion that you don't have to know everything or have all the answers, the next tip revolves around developing the capacity to feel comfortable asking others.

You are not Google, and it's not only acceptable but also beneficial to seek assistance or information from others, whether it's to expand your knowledge, request more time, or any other need.

Seeking input from others, as we have discussed previously, involves not only asking questions for which you have no answers but also asking questions for which you believe you already have the answers and listening to what others contribute.

It's about understanding and appreciating that you are not working alone but part of a team. Utilise the collective knowledge and experience of your team members.

We often advise our clients not to try to solve problems in isolation but to involve their teams in finding solutions because they usually possess the necessary insights. They may know what they need but might not always feel comfortable expressing it.

A lack of safety in asking questions can create a cycle where if you don't feel safe asking your boss, your team members may not feel safe asking you, perpetuating the issue.

7- Invest in YOU; it will change your life

As we work through these concepts every time we discuss them, it becomes apparent how each level contributes to creating inclusive teams when we are open to embracing them.

A significant aspect is investing in oneself because it can profoundly impact one's life. There are numerous ways to invest in oneself, so how have you recently invested in yourself?

Karin

"Personally, I engage in a lot of reading and listen to podcasts to learn from others and gather new ideas. Additionally, I find value in doing things that push me out of my comfort zone, such as pursuing hobbies or trying new activities. For instance, I recently participated in the 9D breath work. While it may seem unconventional, it was an incredibly enriching experience that provided a refreshing shift from my everyday routine."

We've been referring to these experiences as "glimmers" this year, those little shifts that help bring balance and stimulate creativity, which is essential for effective leadership.

Creativity can be challenging, especially amidst a busy schedule, but it is often the key to overcoming obstacles and accomplishing tasks.

When everything feels overwhelming, and we struggle to transition from anxiety to curiosity, taking a moment to step back, perhaps making a cup of tea or going for a short walk, can work wonders.

The act of stepping away for even a brief period can completely transform the environment and is an integral part of self-investment.

Another significant aspect of self-investment that we've personally found beneficial is coaching.

Whether through one-on-one sessions or group discussions, coaching provides an opportunity to uncover aspects of ourselves that we may not be aware of and empowers us to grow.

It's a powerful tool that we incorporate into all our engagements because of its effectiveness in fostering personal and professional development.

In our previous episode, we spoke about the transition into becoming supervisors/leaders and how it is such a lonely path for so many people.

And that's where our dream of the Safety Leaders Hub was born because it's a massive part of creating a community where we can be curious, where we can ask others, where we can learn to ask different questions, we can be heard, we can admit when we were wrong and say, "I know I need to respond in a better way, but I don't know how to do that - help".

By following the link in the resource section below, you will find more information explaining the design and the intention behind the Safety Leaders Hub, and if interested, you can sign up to be on the waiting list.

8. Journal

Reflecting on past experiences through journaling is a powerful tool. 

It allows us the space to reflect without any strict guidelines. It's essentially a place to unload our thoughts. It could mean writing a poem capturing your emotions of the moment, or it might involve a lengthy entry filled with raw emotional expression. 

Alternatively, you might opt for a more visual approach, using images to complement your reflections or a convenient app on your phone to record your thoughts and feelings. Listening back to recordings shortly after making them is enlightening. It's like capturing a fleeting moment of wisdom. 

Some may jest that talking to oneself is a sign of madness, though apparently only if you start answering back! Sometimes you need good advice, so you have to speak to yourself.

Journaling is akin to self-coaching. 

We often employ the growth model, asking ourselves probing questions to navigate our thoughts and emotions - 'What are your goals? What is your current reality? What are your options? What way forward to do you choose, what are the tactics you need to build on to achieve this, and what are the habits you need to have in place to maintain and have this as being consistent?'

You might be thinking, gees, that's a lot of work, so here are three more questions we'll give you [and they are not necessarily easier]:

  1. What is the story that I'm running? What's the story I'm telling myself? What's the movie that's playing out in my head, and does that movie need to look a little different?
  2. What's at stake for me here? What do I need to shift? Why is it important?
  3. What's missing? [simple as that]

These seemingly simple questions can lead to profound insights and guide us towards meaningful change. Are we making changes because we genuinely feel the need to, or are there external pressures at play?

These questions aid in self-reflection and remove the masks we wear in various aspects of our lives. They help us uncover what truly matters and why change is necessary. It's a good starting point.

Final Thoughts

By implementing these tips and gaining a deeper understanding of yourself, you'll become more adept at appreciating the differences in others and recognising their strengths. This, in turn, will enable you to create a more inclusive environment within your teams.

Another wonderful outcome of this journey is the potential to experience moments of bliss akin to our earlier anonymous quote. Such moments can bring immense joy to our daily lives.

But how do we translate these tips into tangible realities?

While the advice is valuable, putting it into practice can sometimes feel daunting.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or unsure where to begin on your journey towards understanding yourself, others, and fostering inclusivity within your teams, we're here to help.

Consider scheduling an obligation-free conversation with us:

It's as easy as booking a call via email at hello@safetycollaborations.com.
Alternatively, you can find a direct link to our calendar via the contact page.

Karin or Nuala will be delighted to connect with you and engage in a meaningful conversation,
so feel free to reach out.

About the Show

Our purpose in sharing this podcast is to have a chinwag (conversation) to help people change how they think and behave about safety. 

We do this by engaging in dialogue and testing the levels of trust and psychological safety, which are core to organisational culture. Making safety part of your DNA so that your people speak up, show up, do right, and become safer every day for yourself, your team, and your business.

We will explore topics related to organisational and safety culture, leadership, the language of risk, emotional literacy, psychological safety, conversational agility, intercultural intelligence, and whatever else pops up during our conversations—sharing our experiences and learnings. 

We intend to share nuggets of wisdom that will challenge your perspectives, potentially solve a nagging problem, share actions you can implement, and give you at least one aha moment.

And, if you enjoyed the show and gained value, please share with just one other person to help spread the word.

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