Your People Are Your Business’s Competitive Advantage

Photo credit: By Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

When organizations begin with the individual in mind, they can create a working environment that unlocks their people’s brilliance as well as their own.

Organizations that create a working environment that values the individual and which promotes self-awareness so that every employee truly understands their strengths, skills, preferences and challenges can enable their own business success.

Like a rope fashioned from hundreds of fragile threads, the strength of an organization grows when the strands are woven together. But when these threads loosen or become frayed, the rope quickly loses its strength to hold itself together.

Because of the interconnectedness between the effectiveness of the individual, team, and organization, businesses must stay keenly focused on supporting their people if they want to enable their business goals.

Here’s why.

What happens on the micro level also happens on the macro level.

At the individual level, self-awareness contributes to professionals’ ability to understand their own inherent qualities and how they can leverage these to be successful. At the managerial level, self-awareness allows leaders to more quickly identify competency gaps in themselves and their teams, which, in turn, promotes the skill development initiatives required to fill those gaps.

Both of these dynamics contribute to the overall organizational success or failure because at the micro and macro levels, people, teams, and leaders are either having the right conversations in the right way, in support of the right projects, or they’re missing the mark on one – or all – of those things.

By improving thousands of interpersonal interactions across your business every day, the business benefits can be felt organization-wide almost immediately. By getting this wrong, little by little, the razor-sized cuts that come from the intermittent dysfunction can become a gaping wound in the organization’s culture and subsequent success.

If you don’t value your people’s development, they don’t value your business’s development.

Self-aware people who have been given the time and space to develop themselves – to understand their own strengths, how they can be most effective, what motivates them, and what kind of leader they can flourish under – are much more equipped and motivated to throw themselves into the organization that afforded them the opportunity to grow as people and professionals.

Additionally, numerous studies show that increased self-awareness at work can lead to better team building, improved communication, more effective leaders and better staffing decisions. When relationships improve, so does productivity, communication, customer service, organizational culture, teamwork, engagement levels and leadership effectiveness.

By the same token, low levels of self-awareness can be linked to an increase in workplace conflict, less authenticity in relationships and a defensive attitude about personal shortcomings – all divisive things that keep an organization from achieving its goals.

You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know where you are.

When coming together to form a team and organization, each individual’s strengths and weaknesses come together to create a collective group of abilities and incapacities. Understanding how these traits come together to enable success, create obstacles or form gaps is important for a team to function in a well-rounded way.

Like any positive change, skill development and growth start with an honest examination between the current state of affairs and the desired future state. Just as you have to know the physical location of your starting point, if you want to travel to an unknown destination, you have to know the figurative location of your starting skillset. This goes for individuals and organizations alike.

At the end of the day, you need all of your people to get on board, inspired, and most crucial, to understand how their role fits into the whole process. Without this base level of self-knowledge and understanding, organizations wouldn’t know what they don’t know and would be forced to pursue improvement blindly, if at all.

The notion of self-development centers on the fact that awareness of self is the basis for all positive human endeavor and interaction. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed self-development was our starting point. 

When organizations begin with the individual in mind, they can create a working environment that unlocks their people’s brilliance as well as their own.

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