Self-Acceptance: A Foundation of Business Results

skyeteam leadership development

As crazy as it may sound self-acceptance has everything to do with business results.

As leaders we are focused on the product, service or task that we are responsible for, both individually and with our teams. We place great care and attention on how to organize our processes, procedures, budgets and roles to make it all happen. We even spend time addressing team dynamics and how people work together.

What we don’t often focus on is the level of self-acceptance of our team members and ourselves.

Defining Self-Acceptance

For most of us, this is a loaded concept. From the time we are little people on this earth, our self-acceptance is formed by the countless daily experiences we encounter. Every interaction and life experience is an opportunity to increase our self-acceptance or erode it. The bummer is that even when a situation was not meant to erode our self-acceptance, it can do just that based on our perception of the situation.

So what is self-acceptance anyway?

The definition I will use today comes from Ennea International and the Ennea 5 Lenses assessment. At its most basic, self-acceptance is

“the degree to which you view yourself positively and feel a sense of personal achievement; your ability to face challenges and learn from those experiences.”

If we look a little deeper, it is also

“the degree to which one is able to expose areas of under-development and incompetence without shame.”

In Brene Brown’s article, “Shame v. Guilt,” she states,

“I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort. I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

Guilt can be a good thing as it helps keep us accountable. Shame shuts us down. These two concepts are at the core of self-acceptance.

What does Self-Acceptance have to do with Business Results?

As leaders, we are working hard to create learning environments where our team members, both individually and collectively, are learning from what has gone wrong and adapting future efforts based on these lessons.

If I, as the leader, or the individuals on my team cannot own our mistakes and openly assess what went wrong in order to use the information to improve in the future, then we are not going to achieve optimal business results. When we are in protective mode, we will not initiate tough conversations, address challenges, work well together, hold each other accountable, etc.

In order to explore this further, let’s look at how low and high self-acceptance impact business results.

Low and High Self-Acceptance

From my experience, there are situations or even days when I notice my self-acceptance is either higher or lower. If I find myself in H.A.L.T. (hungry, angry, lonely or tired), I am more vulnerable to low self-acceptance. When I am well rested and resourced, I am able to tackle situations with more resolve.

Even though my self-acceptance can change depending on my level of feeling resourced, I also believe that we have a level we are working from on a daily basis. I never had a way of really getting a baseline assessment on my own self-acceptance until now.

I recently became certified in an amazing assessment tool called the Ennea 5 Lenses. It is truly the most robust assessment tool I have ever used, and it is proving to be a wonderful blueprint for others and myself in identifying where we are in our lives and where we want to go.

Per the name, you assess yourself based on five different lenses: Personal Mastery, Resiliency, Social Drives, Energy/Intelligence Centers, and the Enneagram. Self-acceptance is one of the six competencies within Personal Mastery, in which you get an indicator on your baseline level.

So what does low and high self-acceptance look like? Following are some descriptors of both low and high acceptance based on the work of Ennea International.

Low acceptance

  • Resistance sharing aspects of your life that show you in a less than strong light
  • Creating scenarios where you are seen more positively
  • Withdrawing or isolating yourself
  • Blaming others when things go wrong
  • Sense of embarrassment
  • Reduced self-concept
  • Hides mistakes
  • Blaming others
  • Placing higher value on your own strengths while devaluing others

How this looks in a team project: The possibilities for that project to fail increase dramatically if we have several people that are withdrawing, trying to cover things up, spinning the truth, etc. The team breaks down as a result of how each individual feels about themselves on the team.

High acceptance

  • Ability to consistently see mistakes as providing real learning opportunities
  • Admitting mistakes or areas for development
  • Apologizing and repairing relationships
  • Respond with compassion and a willingness to hold others accountable when they make mistakes
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Proud of achievements
  • Positive self-concept
  • Learns from experiences and takes actions to improve situations

How this looks in a team project: When the team hits roadblocks, they will be able to overcome these challenges more readily. I believe our goal as leaders is to create environments where we help people to feel significant / important, confident and that we care about them as human beings.

Often an invisible force, strong self-acceptance is a critical component of high performing teams and individuals. In my next post, I will provide some tactical ways to begin strengthening your own self-acceptance and encouraging the same for those on your team.