How to Deal with the ‘Unaware’ and the ‘Aware Don’t Care’ Managers who Lack Self-Awareness



If you are unfortunate enough to work for a manager who lacks self-awareness it will be evident.  Behaviours such as arrogance, blaming others for their own mistakes, taking credit for other people’s work, and a lack of empathy are common.  I never call these people leaders, because to me even if they are in a leadership role, they are not a leader.

It astonishes me that there are still individuals in senior roles who behave like this and get away with it.  Sadly from what I hear from my clients, it is rather more common than I believed.

The first time I met a senior manager who was one of the ‘aware don’t care’ managers I was truly gobsmacked.  The effect he was having on his team was so damaging I thought he couldn’t possibly last.  My only recourse was to coach the team on how to deal with him as best they could.   I didn’t think he would last.  I was right.

So what do you do with the ‘aware don’t care’ type?

Firstly, I think you have to accept that they may be unwilling to change.   As hard as it may be, trying to use your own empathy and compassion may go some way to helping you deal with them.

In the majority of cases, these managers will not succeed in the long term, unless they work on becoming more self-aware.   Play the long game, stick to your own game plan with integrity, and you should ride the wave.

Manage your own emotions and awareness through practicing mindfulness and watching your triggers around them.  Remove yourself whenever possible if they are behaving in a particularly hostile or aggressive manner.

When it comes to the ‘unaware’ managers there is a little more hope for change.   They may have blind spots that they genuinely don’t perceive or understand.   The key message here is to ensure that if anyone is going to provide them with some feedback – not criticism – that it is the right person.   Understandably people can be very sensitive to hearing feedback even if delivered sensitively.  Hopefully, they will have a colleague or a more senior manager who may be able to gently point out their blind spot(s).

Powerful questions can sometimes help those affected to come around to awareness themselves.   For example, you could say, ‘I was wondering whether it might be beneficial for us all to do some 360 feedback assessments, what do you think?’  Or ‘how do you think that meeting went?’  This way you are simply asking a question and they may begin to understand why you are asking.

If you are a manager and you haven’t received any feedback from anyone lately, I highly encourage you to ask a respected colleague or do some 360 feedback assessments.  There are a range of good ones out there – ask for some recommendations.

There’s no excuse for being a manager who treats his or her employees with a lack of respect, or who lacks awareness of how he or she is impacting others.   If you would like to measure your self-awareness I highly recommend Dr. Tasha Eurich’s validated 70-item self-awareness assessment.   You can find it here:     Her book ‘Insight’ is also excellent.

For further information on developing your self-awareness through Emotional Intelligence please check out my website.  I provide team training days and assessments.  Feel free to email me at with any questions you may have.


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