Self-isolation has taught me many things. But most of all, I’ve realized that my teams and I still have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other.

A few days ago, after another day of seemingly endless hours in front of my laptop, I made it just in the nick of time to sit down for dinner and family time. Across platters, we joked about how we’re probably going to go down in history as the generation that survived the pandemic.

We also spoke about how the pandemic has changed family dynamics as well. One of the biggest changes for my family and I, during this time, has been my constant presence at home. Before the pandemic, I’d only have an actual conversation with my son on the weekends because we’d never catch each other during the week.

While I’m torn, on the one hand, about being glad I have more time with my family, being forced to work at home has highlighted certain issues within my team, which I never really noticed before. I always prided my team on excellent collaboration, but when it came down to it, I’ve seen how we’ve all made basic mistakes that could have been resolved with better communication.

I think it’s also the sign of the times that we have near-constant Zoom meetings. Initially, I was shocked! We’re getting so much done. Unfortunately, this hasn’t converted to meaningful output – so much so, I was forced to end the last week with a stern warning. No doubt, I was public enemy number one among my teams over the weekend!

Given the line of work I’m involved in, COVID-19 has shown me why self-awareness is so important in everything we do.

What does it mean to be self-aware (and why does it matter to a leader)?

To me, self-awareness is all about having an understanding of what makes you, you. It’s about knowing why and how you behave, think, and react in certain ways. More importantly, as a leader, self-awareness helps you be honest with yourself.

In a workplace setting, understanding who you are helps you communicate more effectively with your teams, engage individual team members meaningfully, set clear expectations, and know exactly what to do to make sure each goal is achieved.

The only catch is that your teams need to be pretty self-aware too.

Is self-awareness any good for remote working?

I’ve had time to reflect on why self-awareness matters in this context we find ourselves in. Here’s what I’ve realized:

Self-awareness helps you set goals and make sure your teams achieve them

Self-awareness is the foundation of productivity. Being self-aware means identifying and understanding what drives you, what your strengths are, and even the challenges that prevent you from achieving your targets.

If everyone in your team enjoys some level of this trait, it means that you don’t need to mince your words. When you set goals, you know exactly how you need to communicate them, what steps you need to take, and how to motivate your staff to get things done.

One example I can recall is the time I asked one of my team member’s to submit an urgent report on user statistics.

You have to keep in mind that this guy, while brilliant at what he does, doesn’t realize the urgency of tasks unless there is some kind of visual reminder for him. What I asked him to do was take a couple of post-its and leave himself reminders and even set an alarm! The very next day, I had the report in hand, right on time – maybe for the first time ever!

You know what to say and do to bring out the best in employees

For me, effective communication is one of the most important aspects of self-awareness, more so when we are thrust into remote working. Regardless of how we feel about digital communication, this is the most efficient way of getting messages across while we work from home.

Each of us has a distinct communication style. While mine tends to be to-the-point and goal-driven, I have team members who prefer to communicate through visual cues or inspiring content.

A self-aware leader can use these unique insights and understanding of themself and their teams to communicate effectively and engage employees to leverage their full potential (without burning them out, of course).

You don’t need to have endless meetings to be productive

Given the lack of face-to-face interaction, you may feel compelled to schedule endless Zoom meetings to discuss even the most basic task.

Increased interaction doesn’t mean increased productivity, however – take it from me. What needs to be done is to make meetings more outcome-driven using self-awareness.

If you and your teams understand how each person works, you’re able to identify decision-making gaps when it comes to certain tasks and know who needs to take ownership of which tasks. After that, it’s just a matter of communicating this and getting the work done.

Create self-awareness for yourself and your teams today

With 44% of companies not allowing remote working prior to the pandemic, many people, including myself, were unprepared for some of the challenges remote working has posed. If you’re in the same boat, you have nothing to lose by trying to be more self-aware!

Luckily, there are DNA-based tools that can be used to help you understand who you are, specifically, who you are in the workplace. Wired2Perform’s #WorkFromHome offer even allows companies to use the platform FREE of charge, for 90 days, for organizational user accounts.