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The 3 Levels of Awareness and How They Drive Performance

This week, we have a complimentary DISC assessment from Dave to help you improve your self-awareness. 

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About This Episode

Leaders are always making decisions, and when we’re in tune with awareness we’re better equipped to make those important decisions.

 

Dave Richards is the CEO and Lead Coach at Elite Performance Associates and a former executive director for John Maxwell’s company. In this episode, he’ll talk with Tricia about self-awareness, relational awareness and situational awareness and how leaders can benefit from more of each.

1. Emotional intelligence will determine the trajectory of your career.

It starts with self awareness and how you receive and communicate information. It’s when you understand how you process things and are clear on where you need to work and grow.

2. Know the difference between a reaction and a response.

Emotional intelligence involves a great deal of self control. Make sure you understand how to control your emotions and create pauses when necessary so you have more of a response than a reaction.

3. Understand the interpersonal dynamics of your relationships.

Know when you might need to take a pause, slow down, before you say something. Or know if you need to be a little more blunt and to the point. This will allow you to better connect with someone else who might have a different process than yours. Through applications like DISC, take the time to know others and know how to approach them.

 

If you haven’t taken the DISC before, go take the assessment using our free one next step this week. What is your reaction to its assessment of you?

 

In terms of self awareness, what are your strengths and where could you grow?
Talk about the difference between a reaction and a response. Which one do you lean toward?
Who do you think are some of the more self aware, self controlled leaders in your life? What can they teach you?

Emotional intelligence will determine your ability to go far in your career and in life.

Dave Richards

Part of self-awareness is understanding self-control.

Dave Richards

Self-awareness is foundational to growing in your overall emotional awareness.

Dave Richards

There is a difference between reaction and response.

Dave Richards

Dave Richards on LinkedIn and Instagram

Tricia Sciortino on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lisa Zeeveld on Instagram and LinkedIn.

BELAY’s bookkeeper service

DISC Assessment

(01:37) Dave talks about where he went on his first-ever date. 

(03:36) Dave talks about his career from working in the mortgage businesses to working for John Maxwell then becoming the CEO of Elite Performance Associates.

(07:23) Dave unpacks the 3 levels of awareness. 

(09:09) #1. Self awareness. Gaining a true understanding of yourself.

(11:30) #2. Interpersonal awareness. Creating awareness in the relationships you have. 

(13:39) #3. Situational awareness. How am I being received in a group setting?

(14:53) Does Dave find that, through these 3 areas, that leaders tend to struggle with one more than the others?

(17:54) How does a leader start understanding more about these 3 areas of awareness and learn the areas in which they need to improve?

(22:46) Dave talks about how you can get in touch with him and his team. 

(23:55) This week’s one next step: We have a complimentary DISC assessment to help you improve your self-awareness. Go download it here.

Dave Richards:

Some people are probably it’s a little bit easier for them to reflect and think about and grow in terms of their understanding of themselves. Others have a real gap in regards to what they think and what they see themselves as and what it is to be like on the other side of them.

Announcer:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world, helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome to One Next Step, the practical business podcast that helps you run your business so it stops running you. I’m Tricia, and today we’re going to talk about levels of awareness and how they drive performance. And joining us, we have Dave Richards. Dave is the CEO and Lead Coach at Elite Performance Associates. He’s also a former executive director for John Maxwell’s team and a highly sought after speaker, with 25 plus years of executive leadership experience. I’m really excited to talk about this topic of awareness with Dave. Dave, welcome to the podcast. It’s good to see you.

Dave Richards:

You too, Tricia. It’s great being here. Thanks for having me.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. I’m so excited to see you, so excited to talk about this topic. You’re one of my favorite people to talk to because you just have amazing insights and energy. I know this is going to be a great conversation, listeners. But before we get started, we love a little icebreaker question. Okay? Here’s my icebreaker question for you. This is an interesting one. I had to think about this one for myself. Do you remember where you went on your first ever date?

Dave Richards:

I think, Tricia, you’re breaking into this whole Richard’s debate issue. I got to be careful, because I could get in trouble. I’ll declare what my wife’s definition of our first date is, and then I’ll tell you what I think it was.

Tricia Sciortino:

Okay, good.

Dave Richards:

We debate back and forth. I invited, my and wife and I went to a place called Mike and Rhonda’s for breakfast. She states that I tricked her into our first date of meeting for breakfast to be able to have a conversation. We were going to talk about. We met in our college group at the church, and we were going to have a conversation around like a bible study type deal and whatever else, but I tricked her into that. And then all of a sudden, it was not about bible study. We were just getting to know each other. That’s what she states our first date was. I believe our first date was an official date and that’s where I took her for Mexican food and horseback riding was the two things that we did.

Tricia Sciortino:

Wow! Mexican food and horseback riding, that sounds like an awesome date. It sounds like the breakfast was the pre-date date.

Dave Richards:

Yes, that’s what I say. I was like, no, no, we were just friends at that point. It led into then us going on the first date, but she holds too that I tricked her. That’s her thing.

Tricia Sciortino:

I feel like you were warming her up. You were feeling things out.

Dave Richards:

Come on.

Tricia Sciortino:

Testing the odds.

Dave Richards:

Exactly. I needed to make sure, right? Before you go in with a horseback riding and Mexican, we got to find out here.

Tricia Sciortino:

I love it. That’s awesome. Let’s talk about the goods. First of all, I love to take a little walk down your history, because you have such a fascinating career and journey you’ve been on. I’d love to hear a little bit about your story. You started and spent many years in the mortgage business, then you wind up with John Maxwell. Then you become the CEO of Elite Performance Associates. Tell me a little bit about your journey.

Dave Richards:

Yeah, you bet. It’s been incredible, right? Young age, got into the banking world. No one ever intends on getting into banking, so it’s always one of those things where you accidentally fall into it. It’s kind of the funny story inside the trade of specifically mortgage that we all laugh about. But I spent 23 years inside that banking, that financial background and specifically mortgage industry and really kind of had multiple different roles within leadership with a couple different organizations, and really was incredible and pouring into people. Early on as a kid, I was kept debated by leadership, really stemming from my pops and really watching how he interacted and led men and women from all backgrounds in the military for 20 plus years and seeing that impact on their lives and even the rippling of the lives of their families.

Dave Richards:

I was really captivated around that and that ability to be able to help others in that way. And that really kind of shaped what I did in the mortgage business and doing that part. I say that because that led into towards the latter part of my time in mortgage, kind of really, intentionally, driving and growing my own leadership ability, how I help others and pour into others. Coaching was always something of how I did my job. When I worked with John and we went over to Paraguay together, met with some other coaches, we had an opportunity there. During that timeframe, there was some conversations that really led to this idea that coaching could be something that, not how I did what I did, but actually what I did primarily.

Dave Richards:

That’s really what kind of bridged into this point. About four years ago, launched Elite Performance Associates as a lead coach. We’ve been able to grow the firm deal and work with some incredible leaders in organizations over the course of the last four years. Also, neat that through that entire journey, Tricia, BELAY and yourself have been there with me and some incredible support there that has been really fun.

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh gosh, yeah. It’s been a pleasure. I mean, gosh, getting to know you and work with your organization over the last few years. It’s been a lot of fun. I have so much appreciation for coaches and coaching. I’ve been on the receiving end of coaching a lot of my career, because I really do believe we need somebody on the other side to hold a mirror to us time and time again. It can’t just happen once and you’re done. Constantly looking at yourself in the mirror, we all have so many blind spots. Having an executive coach has been life changing for me. Any of our listeners out there, if it’s something you have debated over, I would say seek out Dave and his organization.

Tricia Sciortino:

Coaching, in my opinion, really does accelerate your level and ability to lead organizations and teams. I’m just a huge proponent and fan and believer in executive coaching. We will never know it all. I think what you do is so valuable. I’m so glad that you’ve been so successful at it as well.

Dave Richards:

Thank you. That’s awesome.

Tricia Sciortino:

You have this framework that you talk about, the three levels of awareness.

Dave Richards:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

I would love for you to kind of unpack that for us.

Dave Richards:

Over the course of time kind of working alongside leaders really helping build out high performance team, a lot of times we talk about emotional intelligence, right? But it seems so elusive and really difficult to really understand, well, what do I do with that, right? I know I need to grow it. There’s actually a recent study that came out from the Journal of Personality actually that conducted a study over 10 years. Tricia, it’s really interesting. But over 10 years, it showed a significant decrease in emotional intelligence. We know it’s important.

Tricia Sciortino:

That’s alarming, Dave.

Dave Richards:

Right? Huge decrease over 10 years. It’s scary, right?

Tricia Sciortino:

Wow. Okay. Yeah, that’s scary.

Dave Richards:

And the study ended on 2019. You can only imagine over the last two years what we just have gone through, what the impacts of that is going to be too. But I think a lot of times we know emotional intelligence. I mean, there’s plenty of studies out there that also show emotional intelligence will determine the trajectory, right? Your ability really to go far in your career and in life. How do I work on it? How do I be in intentional around it? Working with leaders, I had to work on developing a framework to help how do we lean in and grow intentionally in that area. The three levels of awareness really is about emotional intelligence.

Dave Richards:

I have an acronym, SIS, to help trigger them to really understand where are we at in terms of the area quadrant that we’re kind of working on. That’s there. The first one S is self-awareness and really gaining a true understanding of yourself, right? I think in studying human behavior, you quickly understand and realize that we all operate in patterns. There’s so much information that are coming in. Each one of us have a unique blend, a unique style from a communication and just really how we work and operate is in a pattern. Understanding our own patterns, how we receive information, how we prefer to deliver information and communicate and connect with people really helps us, number one, to understand ourselves in circumstances.

Dave Richards:

Number two, it also helps us to be able to better identify other people’s styles so that I can create that connection also and better communicate from that part. A part of self-awareness also is just what’s my process around self-evaluation? How do I actually reflect and think about myself, right, and where I need to work on and grow within it? And then really the last part of that self-awareness is really understanding self-control and making sure that I understand how to control my emotions, creating pauses. A lot of times, I work with two different words to try to anchor ideas with leaders.

Dave Richards:

In this particular area, in self control, it’s really leaning them into understanding the difference between reaction and response, and making sure that you create pauses so that you can respond correctly, not just be in the moment of reaction, which many times have us regret maybe what we said in a moment or how we reacted in a moment that’s there.

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh gosh. Absolutely. You are talking to me because we’re very in tune with emotional intelligence. I’ve taken all of the tests, and I am really low, Dave, on impulse control. I’m more reactionary than responsive, and it is something that I constantly have to work on. To your point, taking the pause can be hard for some of us who are quick thinkers and we process out loud. We think we’re verbally processing, but what we’re doing is creating problems sometimes.

Dave Richards:

Exactly. Which really leads, Tricia, into the next one, which is I, and that’s the interpersonal awareness. And if I can identify certain patterns in other people’s communication styles along with understanding myself, then it’s really creating this awareness between the relationships that we have, right? Many times it’s one-on-ones. It’s conversations that we have with our teams.

Dave Richards:

And to your point though, Tricia, if I know that I tend to be more quick, outgoing, my mind moves at a rapid pace and I tend to kind of react and go through, understanding which relationships and specifically conversations do I need to walk in with intent to slow down, to create pause, and utilize certain techniques that maybe slow myself down to make sure that I can really connect with another individual, who maybe may have a different type of response to maybe my quick movements or comments that are going through there.

Dave Richards:

And really just digging deep within that and understanding the critical relationships that we have, right, that are around us. Really kind of investing and growing in that awareness of how can others take me, which is a big deal.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. I like to say, what is it like to be on the other side of me? And everybody will have a day different answer to your point, right? Some people, you can be your organic, natural talking self because you have awesome relational capital.

Dave Richards:

That’s right.

Tricia Sciortino:

And they have the right perspective of who you are. Others, not so much. You need the pause.

Dave Richards:

Yeah. Or our styles blend really nicely. It really is one of those things where sometimes we’ll use terms like, man, we just got chemistry, right? I mean, there’s just a connection between us. A lot of times that’s because we’ve got, again, similar maybe personality or styles that are there. It doesn’t mean that other styles we can’t connect with. We just have to be a little more intentional and how are we going to do that from that area and knowing that.

Tricia Sciortino:

Love it.

Dave Richards:

Yeah. And then that feeds into that last S, so SIS, and the last S is really situational awareness, right? Understanding how do I come across or how am I being received in more of a group response. It could be around your peers, but really having a strong awareness in terms of situations, what type of conversations are we in, what type of meetings. Is this a time for me to interact and have an awareness of understanding what type of meeting is this? Should I question certain things at this point? Or is this really a time in which, hey, we need to create more of a single front, where we’re going, what we’re headed, and just having a true understanding of the situations that are there?

Tricia Sciortino:

Reading the room.

Dave Richards:

Reading the room, exactly.

Tricia Sciortino:

Reading the room. Yes.

Dave Richards:

I think sometimes it’s… I’ve also heard it where… Sometimes it’s the meeting before the meeting that also is really important, so that we can set the tone, set the understanding of what situation are we in and what’s important here. So that again, we can also get our leaders on that same page and help them win in those environments and situations.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, absolutely. Do you find that through your coaching and through these three areas that leaders wind up struggling in one area or bucket maybe over another? Like is one more prevalent or out there than the other two?

Dave Richards:

Well, I think it goes back to what we were just saying in terms of our own styles, right? And I think that certain styles tend to struggle with one or the other or a combination of that. This is where when I think about that, I think about there are times in which some people are just kind of natural listeners. They’re natural in their ability to empathize and really lean in to others that are there. That interpersonal awareness and really being able to read another individual and empathize with them comes very natural. It’s super simple, super easy, and they don’t even really know how they’re doing it. They just come how to naturally do it, right? Others can control a room.

Dave Richards:

We’ve seen individuals, you see individuals who can come into a room and just captivate the audience. Really have a strong sense of being able to read that room and move it in a direction. I think that, again, sometimes we all just have different styles that are there. I think it does come down the self-awareness, right, from a foundational perspective and having a real look and a real evaluation of ourselves is critical in growing each of the other areas from it. I think some people probably it’s a little bit easier for them to reflect and think about and grow in terms of their understanding of themselves.

Dave Richards:

Others have a real gap in regards to what they think and what they see themselves as and what it is to be like on the other side of them. Sometimes that one tends to be a little harder to work through.

Tricia Sciortino:

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Tricia Sciortino:

What would you recommend or tell a leader who wants to become more aware of these three areas? I mean, starting with self-awareness. What are the first steps? How can they get involved? How can they learn about it? How can they go through the process of understanding who they are or how they sit in all of this?

Dave Richards:

For us, what we start with… We utilize a multiple different or a few different assessments, right? I think that sometimes assessments can provide a strong sense of objectivity around sort in areas. It drives a conversation where we can also create common language to be able to kind of bridge into more of, again, that self-awareness, that’s there. One of the primary ones that I start with, because it’s kind of a really simple one to understand and can open up again that conversation and languages around DiSC and just understanding just with a few different questions and going through an assessment like that really can open up a conversation about things.

Dave Richards:

It also helps us be able to identify, again, patterns without judgment or motive around it. We tend to grade ourselves based upon my intent or our intent, and we then look through a lens of others in terms of what actually happened, right? The action that was there. If we can gain this understanding that, look, you may come across this way, it may not be what you intend to, but because of your natural style of communication, which is how I explained DiSC, this could be potential blind spots or potential ways others may receive you in communicating together. And then that allows us to then be able to then transfer that over in terms of how others and how you may be perceiving them and communicating or taking their communication.

Dave Richards:

We’ve always had those conversations or we’ve all had those conversations where somebody’s like, “Oh man, she looked cross-eyed at me. Or man oh man, he’s ignoring me.” We associate these motives and these, again, agendas around things, these type of behaviors. But really being able to suspend that and understand that he probably didn’t even see you. They were thinking about something else. It helps open that conversation. I think that that’s a great start, right? Really for us, we utilize DiSC. We have a couple others that build upon that, but I think being able to get an objective assessment wise and then you can start from that point. That’s where I would say to start.

Tricia Sciortino:

That’s perfect. Actually DiSC, I think, is the first assessment I ever took when I first started on my leadership journey. I have fondness with DiSC. I’ve done all the other ones, the Myers–Briggs and the Enneagrams.

Dave Richards:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

All the assessments you can do, because I feel like it’s just fascinating information to really understand who we are. And then what I also love about it too is then seeing the people that you work so closely with, what their results are like to help you really understand how to engage with people who are so different from you. I always love and find fascination in understanding the people around me, what their communication styles really turn up to be in something like a DiSC or whatnot. I love it.

Dave Richards:

Yeah, absolutely. I think it tends to be kind of the granddaddy of them all. I’m intrigued with multiple different ones also, but it just builds a great foundation. What I find is is that I can increase quickly somebody’s ability to be able to assess and work into themselves and others with the simplicity of DiSC. We can always build into more, but that is a great start.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. And it’s fun to watch it move over time, to retake it then in the future and see how it’s changed.

Dave Richards:

Yes. Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Glad you work on yourself.

Dave Richards:

Exactly. We utilize a natural and adaptive style when we do the DiSC, and so we get both of those. You can see how the lens that I see myself, the lens in terms of my role and responsibilities, how does that impact how I’m, again, adapting certain styles in each of the four quadrants, how am I adapting based upon the circumstances that are going through, which is a big deal.

Tricia Sciortino:

I love it, and I’m going to put a little teaser out there to the listeners. I’ll catch the details later, but you may or may not be getting access to a free DiSC, listener.

Dave Richards:

That’s right.

Tricia Sciortino:

Listen for the rest of the podcast. At the end, I’ll give you all the details. Dave, this has been awesome. How can our listeners get in touch with you and Elite Performance?

Dave Richards:

Probably the easiest way is through social media, on Instagram, I’m @realdaverichards. Of course, I’m on LinkedIn too. Quick and easy way to connect with. I obviously respond wise. Throw down a message. I’ll make sure that we kind of open up a conversation, but definitely. It’d be great.

Tricia Sciortino:

Awesome. Thanks, Dave. This has been such a great conversation. I’m actually going to ask you to hang around a little bit after this interview to answer one more thing about improving the levels of awareness, if you don’t mind.

Dave Richards:

You bet.

Tricia Sciortino:

Guys, you don’t want to miss it. To hear the clip, subscribe to our email list and we’ll send you link to our bonus content, or visit onenextsteppodcast.com where you can find the link in our show notes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Okay, guys. Now you know why Dave Richards is one of my most favorite people to talk to. I hope you got some great insights from our conversation. That was such a great podcast episode. There were so many nuggets I take away from Dave. And as always, we have a one next step for you. This week, I am so excited to say, and I teased it out, we have a complimentary DiSC assessment to help you improve your self-awareness. Go get yourself the download. You can get the download at onenextsteppodcast.com and enjoy the assessment.

Tricia Sciortino:

I hope it brings you some great self-awareness. Guys, until next time, own your journey. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business one step at a time.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Tune in next week where we’ll be joined by Clay Scroggins, an outstanding speaker, an author of a new book called The Aspiring Leader’s Guide to the Future: 9 Surprising Ways Leadership Is Changing. He’ll be talking to us a about the changing landscape of leadership and how leaders can be prepared for it. You don’t want to miss it. Now, take a listen.

Clay Scroggins:

We’re going to start with a basis of trust. If it’s broken, if it’s fractured, then we’re going to address it. We’re going to have to have some of those hard conversations, but we’re going to start with, hey, I trust you. I trust you. I trust you. I think we got to start with that.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then, join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes, and helpful resources, visit onenextsteppodcast.com.

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