Michelle Grabicki
The pressures of work and social situations challenge us to show up as our best selves, says Michelle Grabicki, CEO of Luminous Leadership Group.

5 steps for building self-awareness

Improve emotional intelligence and workplace productivity.

April 20, 2021

Most of us consider ourselves to be self-aware. The reality is that most of us aren’t, according to research from Harvard Business Review.

But self-awareness is a critical element of emotional intelligence, and it affects workplace productivity.

Michelle Grabicki, CEO of Luminous Leadership Group, discussed self-awareness in a breakout session during the 2021 CUNA Human Resources and Organizational Development Council Virtual Conference.

Grabicki defines self-awareness as “the ability to recognize and regulate our actions, as well as the ability to recognize the emotions and actions of others.”

The pressures of work and social situations challenge us to show up as our best selves, Grabicki says.

She outlines a five-step plan for building self-awareness:

  • Be vulnerable. All leaders make errors in judgment. It requires vulnerability to recognize that, not only for one’s own professional development but also for the development of others. “The greatest way to build trust is to be authentic with people,” Grabicki says. “Knowing yourself and letting others know you is a great way to start. Be honest about what your challenges are.”
  • Ask for feedback. “When leaders have a blind spot, the obvious implication is that they can’t be seen,” Grabicki says. In addition to embracing organizational programs such as one-on-one sessions and 360-degree reviews, leaders should find a trusted confidant to provide honest feedback.
  • Take time for reflection. Grabicki recommends meditation to start the day but acknowledges that formal practice isn’t for everyone. Take time to sit with intention before embarking on the workday to create a productive mindset.
  • Be accountable. Find an accountability partner in the workplace. But choose wisely, Grabicki advises. “You want someone who’s going to call you out. At the same time, they have to understand your values.”
  • Practice self-acceptance. “Be gentle with yourself,” Grabicki says. “It’s too easy to be your own best critic. The real key is picking up the pieces and moving forward when you need to.”

▶ Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage and view event highlights on Twitter via the #HRODCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at