The ROI of Self-Awareness it’s NOT a “Soft” Skill

It Always Starts with Enhanced Self-Awareness

Whether it’s coaching a physician executive, training a group of physician leaders, or improving department performance by building effective teams, our work always starts with self-awareness.

Some people initially resist this concept.  They don’t want to accept that their behaviors may need to change. The change will only occur by better understanding themselves. This takes work. This takes humility. This takes vulnerability.

Companies with the greater percentage of self-aware employees consistently outperformed those with a lower percentage.

Communication Starts with Self-Awareness

Success in any almost any endeavor requires effective communication.  Effective communication, and the ability to influence people, only works if you have enough self-awareness to deploy the right communication strategy.

 Blog: Improve your influencing skills!

This is true of a physician executive in front of an audience, in a meeting, or crafting an important email.  This is true of a new physician or nursing leader trying to motivate her team.  This is true of team members working to solve a complex problem.  Without effective communication, it doesn’t get done. Effective communication doesn’t happen without self-awareness.

The Impact of Self-Awareness

We track ratings of self-awareness and communication effectiveness, and how a team is working together. When these improve, teams accomplish their goals. More importantly, clients tell us about the impact of improved self-awareness, all the time.  Every physician leader we work with, everyone leading a team, tells us that learning about themselves is THE foundation for their improved performance.  This is especially true if they embrace the work.  Not everyone does.

Effective communication doesn’t happen without self-awareness.

Research: The Correlation Between Self-Awareness and ROI

I recently ran across an article from 2014 that explored the hard ROI of Self-Awareness – Return On Self-Awareness: Research Validates The Bottom Line Of Leadership Development – (Forbes online)


The article cites a 2014 Korn Ferry study and white paper, by Zes and Landis, A Better Return on Self-Awareness.  The study looked at 7,000 self-assessments from professionals at 486 publicly traded companies.  They were looking for “blind spots”—disparities between self-reported skills and peer ratings.   In other words, “did the individual leaders see themselves the same way others saw them?” 

The findings:

  • Poorly performing companies’ employees had 20% more blind spots than those working at financially strong companies.
  • Poor-performing companies’ employees were 79% more likely to have low overall self-awareness; and
  • Companies with the greater percentage of self-aware employees consistently outperformed those with a lower percentage.

Wow.  I remember being stunned by those numbers when I read them.  This is NOT a small study and that is a substantial correlation between self-awareness and company performance.  It’s not a surprise.  It makes sense to many who work with leaders and teams.

Time for Healthcare to Get on the Bandwagon

We need to replicate this study in healthcare.  One challenge is that “organizational success” is not as clearly defined as some other industries.  There is enough evidence that these approaches work though – including research on healthcare teams, that it warrants further exploration- at least at the department level.

Blog:  Build High Performing Teams

In the meantime, we should run with the concept.  For too long, healthcare has functioned under the “myth of collective intelligence.”  This holds that as long as we hire the best and the brightest (traditionally, this meant the best clinicians and researchers), then we’ll be successful, and we can solve any problem.  That’s not worked out too well for us, has it?

For too long, healthcare has functioned under the “myth of collective intelligence.” 

Our recent work – particularly in the area of department transformation, is showing that if you give a team of people a vision, improved self-awareness, improved leadership, team and communication skills AND apply these to a solid strategic plan – they can succeed. They don’t succeed because the plan was that good – but because we give the PEOPLE what they need to succeed.  Companies like Google get this.  It’s time for healthcare to get it.

Learn more about our approach to department transformation:

Download a case study applying these concepts to OR performance: