Rotman Management Magazine - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by Karen Chris­tensen

Maja Dji­kic

Self-aware­ness is not stan­dard ma­te­rial in MBA pro­grams — and yet you teach it here at Rot­man. Why is it such an im­por­tant at­tribute?

When we go out into the world and try to solve a prob­lem, we cre­ate a model in our mind of what the prob­lem ‘looks like’ — the is­sues in­volved, the con­text, the stake­hold­ers, etc. Most peo­ple don’t think about it much, but each of us is a sort of ‘mod­el­ing ma­chine’, con­stantly try­ing to make sense of the world and fig­ure out what’s hap­pen­ing. The prob­lem is, if we don’t model our­selves very well, it’s like hav­ing a map and know­ing what you’re look­ing for, but not know­ing where you are on the map; you’re never go­ing to find it. Self-aware­ness pro­vides a map of one­self and there­fore, a more ac­cu­rate map of the world that in­creases the like­li­hood that your mod­el­ing of prob­lems is ef­fec­tive.

Former Medtronic CEO Bill Ge­orge has called self-aware­ness “the start­ing point for lead­er­ship”. How do you re­act to that state­ment?

I com­pletely agree. In lead­er­ship po­si­tions, peo­ples’ ac­tions, mo­ti­va­tions and emo­tions — ev­ery­thing about them—is am­pli­fied and seeps into the or­ga­ni­za­tion. If you have some dys­func­tional in­ter­per­sonal be­hav­iours, that is nor­mal; we can’t ex­pect peo­ple in lead­er­ship po­si­tions to be per­fect. The key is to be aware of your is­sues and to un­der­stand the ways in which you are im­per­fect. By ‘lead­ing your­self ’ in this way, you will be much more ef­fec­tive in lead­ing oth­ers.

How do you de­fine mind­ful­ness, and how does it re­late to self-aware­ness?

Mind­ful­ness is an at­ten­tional state in which you are ac­cu­rately gaug­ing re­al­ity in the present mo­ment. Be­ing mind­ful means pay­ing full at­ten­tion to what is right in front of


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