For almost a decade, the leadership at Luck Stone Corporation has held fast to the belief that developing self-awareness is a critical skill for every employee. As the organization’s training and development manager, Tom Epperson is a passionate believer in the connection between self-awareness, emotional intelligence and business success.
“I believe that the level of self-awareness you bring to an organization, to your family, to the world around you has a direct impact on the results you get in your life,” Tom says. “You might still get results without being consciously self-aware, but I believe if you make conscious choices and are intentional about what you do, you get much better results.”
As part of a team at Luck Stone that has worked with hundreds of employees on self-awareness, leadership development and team effectiveness, Tom has experienced as much personal and professional growth as he’s helped to deliver to others.
“This has been one of the most important things I’ve ever done – as a father, as a husband, as a worker and as a person,” he says. “It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s not easy. Looking into the mirror honestly is not something to go into lightly.”
That said, Tom notes that there is no single path that will lead people to greater awareness of how they engage the world and impact others.
“There are so many different ways to increase your awareness,” he says. “Part of it is reflection, part of it is action, part of it requires conversation with and feedback from others.”
One of the hardest steps in helping an individual move forward on their journey is getting past superficial impressions of what self-awareness means – and its role in effective leadership and engagement.
“At the heart of it, self-awareness is understanding what you value,” Tom says. “It is about truly understanding your ego needs and your fears, and how all of it plays into your behavior. For example, if it’s important for me to be liked, it is going to drive so much of how I show up everyday at work and at home.”
Because he sees the value in self-awareness as the first step in a serious journey of personal or professional growth, Tom also cautions individuals and organizations to treat it seriously.
“It starts with some serious self-diagnosis, with questions,”he says. "Are you or is your business getting the results you desire? If you are, maybe you don’t need to change. But if you aren’t, you might begin by asking what kind of culture are you trying to create. And then exploring whether that culture lines up with the outcomes you want to achieve. A big part of this work for a business is organizing itself around its desired culture – and building a process that supports that.
“Organizations need to get honest feedback from their employees and their stakeholders,” he continues. “Just asking the questions and paying attention to the answers starts the journey.”
And while results can often be seen quickly in his work with individuals and teams , Tom says self-awareness and personal development is no quick fix. And it requires real commitment – from the top.
“At Luck Stone, the commitment of senior leadership has made all of the difference,” he concludes. “They led the charge, and did hard work on their own self-awareness as leaders first. And the company’s owner passionately believes that our values and our culture truly matter.”