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  1. Rob Hutton
    January 18, 2018 @ 6:11 am

    I read a lot of work presented by a variety of folk about command leadership. I wonder how many of these people, and indeed the leaders they are trying to reach are like drivers. Everyone’s a good driver… I’m particularly interested in the evidence base for this work, the science (as far as it goes). For example, we talk about the value of “intuitive” decision making in complex work environments, where intuition is an expression of experience and expertise and allows us to apply heuristics to effectively overcome too little information, too much information, not enough time etc. But what about when we reach the limits of our own intuition. How good are we at recognising that? Exhorting people to be “self aware” is not particularly helpful, unless someone can point me to some evidence that shows how I should be “being more self aware” and that that method actually improves performance. Can anyone point me towards evidence-based solutions/approaches that I must have missed?


    • jbowen100
      January 18, 2018 @ 9:16 am

      Great questions! This is an important topic, but also complex. I do agree, telling others to “be more self-aware” is not getting results. We need to help others by equipping them with tools to achieve it.
      Ultimately, self-awareness addresses how aligned the way you think you are received by others is compared to how others actually perceive you. If there is a large gap between these, then we have an issue.
      So, how can we help? The best way to get data on the alignment between perceptions is through assessments, such as 360-degree assessments. I attempted to provide a basic framework to do that through a 4-part series I wrote about here: You can use the assessments throughout this series to compare self-assessments versus the results that your co-workers provide.
      Further, you can check out this article from Harvard Business Review:
      I hope these 2 resources help to shed some more light on your questions. Feel free to email me ( if you have further questions. I’d love to continue the conversation if you’d like.


      • Rob Hutton
        January 18, 2018 @ 9:36 am

        thanks for the two resources, I’ll check those out. I don’t think self-awareness is only a comparison of how we perceive ourselves versus how others perceive us, although this is obviously a component. What about the awareness required to recognise when one has “lost SA” or one’s experience and knowledge are no longer enough to address the task demands? Other related work includes the challenge of confidence and capability (and when they don’t line up: “Unskilled and unaware” (or “fat, dumb and happy” as we used to say!), the Dunning-Krueger effect. We have been involved in some work for the UK MOD on developing adaptive thinking/decision making skills and have been exploring techniques such as “self-calibration exercise” (which generates predictions of your own performance compared to post-task performance ratings…”was I as good as I thought I was going to be”?). These require a huge amount of honesty to one self. It ties in to leadership traits of “humility” (which is an interesting one for hard charging leaders and the perceived requirement for a “can-do guy/gal”). Gary A Klein (and Peter Fadde) has also recently referred to the use of techniques for “deliberate performance” (as opposed to the oft quoted development methods of “deliberate practice”) recognising that a lot of learning is “on the job” rather than in training/educational contexts. Klein suggests four techniques (see In our own work we have identified some training/development principles from the scientific literature which include principles that support the development of cognitive skills required for decision making, sensemaking, planning etc which include the requirement for “active reflection” and “flexibility-focused feedback” (which the self-calibration exercise achieves, for example). The solutions are easier to evaluate if they are principled and have evidence to back them up. I find it hard to cut through the chaff when I read some of these articles by some contributors to this field. There is absolutely a place for reflecting on experiences and sharing with others the challenges of the coal face, but there also has to be some analysis/evaluation of those opinions and experience in order to derive the lessons for future improvement, and to put some meat on the throw-away terms, motherhood-and-apple-pie statements that are used all too often without substance. Keep up the good fight!

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