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Self-Aware Leaders

Stop guessing. Start understanding.
TBM from Elaura

Leaders - they make or break your organisation.

The most consistent statistic in business is that at least 75% of people who leave your business will cite their manager / leader as their reason for going. Growing leaders with good self-awareness is going to change that for the good. Managers and leaders can leave a very big wake; that is, they may get things done but leave a trail of resentment and damaged people behind them. Managers tend to do it within a more confined segment of the organisation, but leaders do it large. The truth is that this collateral damage is needless. Many individuals confronted by the evidence of this trail of damage (if not wanton destruction) would say “but I get things done, right?”; to which the only possible response is “you would get a whole lot more done, and without the collateral damage, if you understood yourself, and others, properly.” In our experience, The Birkman Method Signature Report bypasses all of the usual defensive barriers which individuals throw up in response to assessments and 360s. They absolutely recognise themselves in the report, which is framed in positive terms and doesn’t attempt to “catch them out”; but some of it will be the first time they have been given the language to articulate what has always been true for them. Furthermore, because they have measured themselves within a calibrated framework, they can easily recognise any areas where they may have perceptions and perspectives that place them slightly to one side of what seems normal to most people. For the professional manager or leader equipped with this new level of self-insight and self-awareness, the next question is going to be “so what do I need to do” - and TBM Signature makes it very easy to answer the more important associated question, namely “and where are the levers for me to make that change?” Of course, not all managers leave a big wake. Sometimes the issue is quite the opposite; they fail to get the traction they should. The same principles apply: whatever the issue, understanding oneself first, and then others, is the only sound basis for sustained success in a healthy organisation.

Coaching Senior Leaders and C-level and C -1 Teams

The ability to give Senior Leaders an objective reading of their own perceptions, including biases and potential blind-spots, but all within a positive affirming framework, makes TBM Signature the obvious choice for coaching Senior Teams. Natural tendencies towards self-protection and avoidance are quickly overcome, and high levels of engagement in the process are the norm. TBM Mindset adds another layer for senior leaders, helping them understand their fundamental view of themselves in the context of others, and how that may impact their reading of the story they are in.

New Leader Coaching

New leaders who are making the transition from the hard power and defined responsibilities of management, and moving into the blurred lines and soft power of leadership, benefit hugely from coaching - especially around where to find the internal levers that can help them make and sustain real change. Reduce the risk of failed promotion and subsequent loss of talented people.

Capacity Building Downstream

It is never too early to help people build self awareness; for one thing, managers with self-awareness managing staff with very little self-awareness can be an exercise in frustration or at least limited results. Whether you use TBM Signature or go for a lighter touch with Elaura’s expresso Platform, building self- and others-aware employees who can take responsibility for their own actions and their own development will always deliver positive returns.

Who does this support?

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No CEO can get very far without a team he can lead - and trust. C-level and C-1 level players have normally achieved a great deal to reach that level, but coaching them and welding them into a high-performing team is by no means a given. Coaching that uses the rich insights of TBM gives the best chance of delivering to the CEO the team they need.

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Working with managers and leaders across markets and functions, HRBPs are often asked to solve problems which they can see actually start with the requester. Team coaching with TBM allows the HRBP to get the manager or leader into position to get some individual coaching, as well as what is on offer for the team, without the necessity of making a confrontation out of it. (Sometimes it helps if the leader is confronted with their own need to change; it just isn’t possible to make sweeping generalisations when "power-distance" and other factors vary so much between and even within organisations.)

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There is rightly a bias towards hard data, wielded with intelligent contextualisation, at the C-level. Any CPO who wants to maintain their seat at the top table needs to bring mission- and outcomes-oriented data. Coaching leaders using TBM means TBM data is available to start making sense of the organisation and its performance from the human perspective. The further down the organisation this data collection is pushed, the more the CPO can help their colleagues make sense of the organisation as a whole.

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If the organisation is running HiPo or similar Talent initiatives, TBM data helps in selection of people for the programme, and in building their self-awareness before they start fielding assignments, for which they may not be fully ready. Every Talent Specialist knows they have lost potential future leaders, just because the right person found themselves unprepared for the wrong assignment. Talent is valuable; TBM makes sure it is ready to meet the test.

Case Studies

Leadership development for a Global FinTech

About six months in to our engagement with a large regional Marketing Team, we were called in to see the Head of HR, who proceeded to tell us that what we were doing was by far the best and most effective Leadership Development Programme she had ever seen. Which was something of a surprise to us, as we weren’t aware that this was what we were doing; we were simply working with a large group of (mostly new) leaders, taking them through their TBM results and helping them make sense of that.

Turns out that a number of them had been “going hard at it”, as those newly promoted from Manager to Leadership roles are prone to do, and causing some havoc along the way. The Head of HR and her Deputy had been following events, and could see a dramatic change in self-awareness and therefore in the manner these new leaders were handling their people - hence the strong affirmation of our “Leadership” Programme.

We have done many ‘deliberate’ Leadership Programmes, both before and after that time, and continue to do so; but it was a great reminder that TBM delivers self-awareness and actionable insight in spades, and that smart people in possession of that insight may not need a lot of help to start making some powerful changes to the way they operate.

The Gift that Keeps Giving - Global FMCG

Our initial engagement with this company - also, as it happened, via their Marketing Team - came about because the Head of Marketing had done Birkman nearly 20 years earlier, and was still using her report in her own personal development. She wanted to get her large regional team up to speed using the same data.


Riding in an old Jeep with her to the offsite venue, she made a comment to me: “the one thing I have never been able to understand is why people are always telling me that I am so structured. As far as I can see, I am one of the most flexible people on the planet.”


Having observed the TBM scores that related to this, I was able to help her. “Your Insistence scores do indeed show that you see yourself as less Insistent than most people. The only problem is that your “lower” Usual score on this is still super high. Your whole field of view is about structure, and you are definitely the most insistent person I have worked with in a while - 2 meetings and 3 phone calls to rehearse line by line what I would do in a two hour session. So although you will absolutely see yourself as super flexible, you are likely to struggle to find anyone else who will agree with you.”


The lights went on at this point. “Oh! I get it!” Which is pretty neat, when you can still gain new and powerful insights from an assessment you did 18 years earlier.

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