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The Awareness Quotient

We have talked of the intelligence quotient (IQ) for ages, a way to measure and compare human beings as if they were products. Then, as we matured in understanding we added a few more quotients to IQ, viz., emotional quotient (EQ) and cultural quotients (CQ). But perhaps, there is something more that underlies all these quotients and that is awareness.

What is awareness? Awareness is to be conscious of, to see, to feel, to cognize, to know. It is difficult to define it precisely since awareness is pre-cognitive, i.e., it exists before words are conceived and exists even after they disappear. It exists before thoughts appear and stays even after they are gone. It exists at multiple layers, mental, emotional, vital and physical, subconscious and unconscious and supra-conscious. Consciousness is the substratum of all human activities and thought, all our grand ideas and implementation.

But in its application to management, perhaps we should limit it to three aspects which become critical in strategy, execution, relationships and all other forms of operations. These three levels for our purpose are:

1) Awareness of oneself
2) Awareness of others
3) Awareness of the larger organization or community

Awareness of oneself is how one sees oneself. At a fundamental level, each individual has a sense of I, what we call the ego. But awareness of one’s ego is not individual and ego is not awareness. On deeper probing awareness has no content. This ability to look at oneself and one’s ego creates a degree of detachment from one’s own self-centered goals and self-aggrandizement. This is essential in any enlightened management where no one individual is more important than the organization.

Awareness of others happens truly when one is no longer centered on oneself and one’s own importance and has let go of one’s own personal narrative. It happens when one is paying total attention to the other, when one is wholly present and listens completely. Such an engagement creates true understanding of the other’s motives, improves communication and one’s own insights into the dynamics of the whole team.

Awareness of the larger organization means doing what is aligned with the vision and mission of the entity and of the community as a whole, and in a larger sense the whole earth. We see this become a flagrant issue when we ask employees about their knowledge about the vision and mission of their companies or question them about their purpose. This would also involve awareness of compliance and quality initiatives in the organization and preventing security lapses. Educating everyone in the company about the core values of the organization takes a long time and effort and has to start with hiring and orientation and then needs to be carried over to constant training, mentoring, reviews, testing and feedback. This awareness can be measured and monitored. And improved.

The Awareness Quotient (AQ) can be a very important tool in self-management, relationships management and improving the culture of the company creating a team development.

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