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The intrapersonal skills needed for change capability

By Ciara Lancaster

From Aristotle to Socrates, Descartes to Einstein, and Nietzsche to Gardner, intrapersonal skills have long been a revered by many a thought leader. Hang on a minute, what are intrapersonal skills again?

Interpersonal vs Intrapersonal Skills

Many of you may have defaulted to interpersonal skills here. Interpersonal skills are your interactions with others, while intrapersonal skills are your interactions with yourself. More specifically, this is your observation of your inner mental game. And for many, once you’ve observed what you think, feel and experience on auto-pilot, you are probably going to choose to override the system for more optimal results.

How change capable you are can dramatically improve your ability to cope, adapt and thrive amidst rapid workplace change. If you’re looking to better understand the role of intrapersonal skills needed for change capability, consider zooming in on these four intrapersonal pairings:

1. Self-awareness and self-control

If you want to get better at leading others through change, this all starts with leading yourself.  Foundational to this, is self-awareness and self-control. Most of us are so outwardly focussed on our environment, our clients and our team that there is little time or energy left to turn the spotlight within. The key shift here is to make the decision that you want to know the truth.

When self-awareness is activated, you’re able to observe whether your thoughts, feelings and behaviours align with the inner standards that you measure yourself against and beyond that, whether they align to your workplace cultural context.

This is about:

  • Strengthening the personal domains of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • Focussing on internal self-awareness including your personal strengths and values
  • Responding with self-control by playing to those strengths and avoiding unnecessary drama

2. Reflection and redirection

Not everybody likes to stare at their reflection in a mirror. Well, the same can be said about introspection. This can often be uncomfortable because the truth, not what you wish to see, but what you choose to learn from, unearths your anxieties, fears and flawed approaches.

When self-observation is activated, this is the gateway for personal growth. Meta-cognition (thinking about the process behind one’s thinking) allows you to step up onto the balcony to observe yourself and overcome mental anguish. In turn, better interpretation allows for better decision making and action-taking.

This is about:

  • Discovering the power of integrity and radical self-accountability
  • Balancing your reflection of criticisms with reflections of commendations
  • Reframing and course correcting with a calm and considered approach forward

3. Concentration and conscientiousness

Many of you may unwillingly be hooked on completing low value tasks as these allow you to more easily multi-task with social media and other distractions. Thanks to the rise of automation, these tasks will soon be taken away from you.  In their place will be the need to focus on more complex, high value work. Unfortunately, this doesn’t negate that our attention will continue being hijacked at every opportunity thanks to the psychology underpinning software and technological advances.

It is time reimagine who you could become and what high-value work you could produce without distractions.

This is about:

  • Planning out a schedule of high priorities (both work and non-work related)
  • Learning the art of blocking out distractions, uni-tasking and flow state activation
  • Knowing when to detach and replenish your energy reserves as they begin to dip

4. Independent thinking and inquisitiveness

So many managers and leaders have become unknowingly institutionalised. Those that cut-ties and break free from corporate co-dependency display true leadership. Behind them are the managers, buoyed by group-think and status-quo behaviours. With increased expectations of fast-paced change, co-creation and innovation on the horizon, it is increasingly important to assert your unique ideas and personal influence.

This is about:

  • Remaining open to new ideas, different perspectives and radical alternatives
  • Upskilling continuously remembering to balance human and digital capabilities
  • Flexing your intellectual traits with your team, clients and mentors

Organisations now recognise that command and control leaders are on the way out. With authentic and adaptive leaders being welcomed in their place.

For this reason, it’s your intrapersonal skills that really count when it comes to thriving in this modern world.


Ciara Lancaster is a change fatigue and resilience specialist at Reimagine Change. She is also the author of the book Reimagine Change: Escape change fatigue, build resilience and awaken your creative brilliance.

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