What is self-awareness in leadership?

Self-awareness is essential for leadership success because it helps leaders to recognize and understand their emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and limitations. This awareness enables you as a leader to make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and inspire others along the way. This post will explore the importance of self-awareness in leadership, define it in a leadership context, provide examples, and suggest tips to develop self-awareness for current or aspiring leaders.


So, why is self-awareness important in leadership?

Self-awareness isn’t just important; it’s crucial for leadership success because it allows leaders to fully understand themselves and their impact on others. When leaders are self-aware, they can identify their strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge their blind spots, and make necessary adjustments to become better leaders. In other words, you realize you don’t know what you don’t know, but you continue to seek the answers that are inside of you. Self-awareness also enables leaders to recognize their emotions and how they affect their decision-making and interactions with others. Leaders who are self-aware don’t get hi-jacked by their emotions and can respond to challenging situations in a constructive way rather than reacting impulsively.


What does self-awareness look like in leadership?

In a leadership context, self-awareness looks like a leader who is introspective, humble, and open-minded. A self-aware leader is willing to ask for feedback, listen to others’ perspectives, and admit their mistakes. They have a deep understanding of their values, priorities, and goals, and they align their actions with them. A self-aware leader also recognizes their impact on others and seeks to build positive relationships based on trust, respect, and empathy.


But where is the starting place on this journey to becoming more self-aware?

Understanding the conscious and unconscious minds is crucial in developing effective leaders. The conscious mind is responsible for our awareness, thinking, reasoning, and decision-making. In contrast, the unconscious mind, where the true power of thought resides, influences our behavior and decision-making without us realizing it. Leaders who understand the roles of both minds can make intentional decisions to guide their departments and teams. However, it is especially crucial for leaders to be aware of their unconscious mind because this is where their biases, beliefs, and habits that may be limiting their potential reside.


Let’s talk about how to develop more self-awareness as a leader. Check out the tips below.

Take some time to elicit your core values. To elicit your core values as a leader, it is important to take time to reflect on what is truly important to you. One way to do this is to ask yourself what motivates you, what brings you joy and fulfillment, and what you would be willing to stand up for. Consider the qualities and characteristics that you admire in others and strive to embody in your own leadership style. Additionally, you can reflect on past experiences where you felt most fulfilled and aligned with your values. Another helpful exercise is to make a list of values that resonate with you, and then narrow them down to the top five or so that are most important to you. By eliciting your core values as a leader, you can make more intentional decisions, build stronger relationships, and inspire others with a sense of purpose and direction.


Start the process of understanding your emotions. To be an effective leader, it is critical to understand and manage your emotions. Reflect on how you feel and why, and identify triggers that evoke strong emotions. By understanding and managing emotions, leaders can make necessary adjustments and lead from a place of clarity and empathy. Mindfulness, journaling, seeking feedback, and paying attention to physical sensations and thoughts can aid in this process.


Be willing to explore your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a leader requires a combination of self-reflection, feedback from others, and a willingness to learn and grow. You can conduct a self-assessment, seek feedback from others you trust, take leadership assessments, and observe other leaders as well. By being honest with yourself and open to feedback, you can identify areas for improvement and become a more effective leader.


Discover your limitations. Our thoughts can guide us to discover our limitations by revealing the beliefs and assumptions that we hold about ourselves and the world around us. When we become aware of our thoughts, we can identify patterns and themes that may be limiting our potential or preventing us from achieving what we want in our leadership and life. For example, negative self-talk can lead to beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t change,” which can limit our ability to learn and grow as a leader. By paying attention to our thoughts and questioning our beliefs, we can discover our limitations and work to overcome them.


So what will you do next? This isn’t a one-and-done process. It’s a journey to creating leadership success on your terms. My hope is that you’ll pick one of the above, and start the process today. Until next time, here’s wishing you all the Clarity (and self-awareness) you deserve!