What is the one quality that makes a leader great?
Well, to be honest, it takes more than one to become a great leader. However, there is indeed one quality that can assure the most of it, and that is self-awareness.
Self-awareness in leadership is something that, if you do gain, you are more likely to achieve or improve in other qualities of being a good leader.
So, all the traits like honesty, passion, hard work, perseverance, communication, etc., are great! All are indeed needed to grow you as a leader.
But self-awareness is something that just puts you right up there and increases your chances to grow in all of these areas, as we mentioned, and others as well.
Leaders with high self-awareness become an unstoppable force toward achieving greatness in their leadership pursuits.
It does depend on what they do afterward, but self-awareness plays a crucial role in leadership that one cannot underplay.
So, here we are going to discuss more self-awareness, its role in leadership, its characteristics, and how you can improve.
What Is Self-Awareness In Leadership?
Self-awareness in leadership is about understanding how your personality traits, behavior, habits, and abilities impact your interaction with people around you.
It is basically assessed in the context of a workplace or a professional setting. Leaders in professional spaces must acknowledge the significance of self-awareness in leadership.
Leaders who are self-aware tend to be better, in fact, excellent in their skill set as well as their people management.
They have also proven to be better personalities to interact with and have more conviction in their approach.
Self-aware leaders are stronger and have more control of their minds, behavior, and emotions. They tend to make me calmer and more composed.
Characteristics Of Self-Awareness In Leadership
Characteristics of Self-Awareness In Leadership
- Being Able To Relective
- Being Observant
- Being Empathetic
- Being Perceptive
- Being Responsive
- Being Self-Controlled
- Being Discerning
- Being Adaptable
Being Able To Reflective
An essential part of being self-aware is being able to reflect on your own thoughts. It might seem obvious or not, but it is a big deal as many leaders do not do this.
You need to be able to, as well as being in practice, to reflect on what you think, your actions, and your behavior toward others.
Self-reflection is the stepping stone to self-awareness as this is what opens doors for a person to be aware of what they think or do.
Apart from being reflective of your thoughts, actions, behavior, and decisions as a leader, you also need to be a reasonable observer.
Self-aware leaders are known for their surroundings. They pay attention to the people around them and follow social cues to use them to their advantage.
Observing is what helps you to bring more information in. It does get better with practice and expands to people, to situations, and over time, you will also be able to read people if you look closely enough.
And such a level of observation makes you better at being self-aware and more empathetic and helpful to others.
It also strategically puts you in a position where only you can help people, use the information to your advantage, or become better at leadership skills.
Empathy is the essential component of being a self-aware leader, a great leader. Without it, you won’t be able to understand the needs of the people around you.
And if you are not able to understand people’s needs, you won’t be able to help them, guide them, or influence them.
Empathy makes you a more relatable, more likable, and more humane personality to rely on. And for a leader in a workspace, it is sometimes the dealbreaker.
A lot of times, it has been seen that people even prefer an empathetic leader rather than a more skilled one.
In other words, even if you are highly skilled or better in every way than others, totally worthy of leading but lacking empathy, people will prefer someone other than you!
A self-aware leader who is incapable of looking at the bigger picture or has the tendency to look beyond is hardly a leader.
In fact, being perceptive is one of the utmost qualities of a leader as they have the vision to see forward in the future and aim for what a team can BE as compared to what they are NOW.
It gives them the ability to anticipate the outcomes of situations through which a leader can make the most out of the current one.
Self-aware leaders are fans of active listening. They believe in communication and clarity of interactions, and for that, they promote responsive behavior in their team.
And the same applies to themselves as well. Such leaders are responsive to their team members and believe it is a foundation of a working collaboration.
A self-aware leader cannot just control their team members but also focused individuals who are in sync with their own words and actions.
Their decisions come from an evaluative place, rather impulsive. They work on their instincts but always remain in control and never do things that don’t align with their principles.
Such leaders are good at self-management ranging from their actions, emotions, and choices as well as their behaviors.
One of the most important aspects of self-awareness in leadership is having the ability and practice of making the right choices regarding handling different situations.
So a self-aware leader needs to have the ability to decide what is essential for their team, for their career, and for other work.
These leaders know how to handle a situation by making wise choices.
Self-aware leaders have this quality of adaptability, the skill to adapt to the situation and environment in the best way they can.
Such leaders can assess the situation around them and the people around them and can make changes or respond to changes to achieve the best.
They do that by changing their behaviors, sometimes their priorities, and their style of work as well.
It does vary how much adaptability a leader has, but it is indeed a quality that every self-aware leader has.
Tips & Strategies To Boost Your Leadership Through Self-Awareness
Strategies To Boost Your Leadership Through Self-Awareness
- Identify, address, and accept your feelings
- Identifying how other people react to you
- Getting feedback from people
- Knowing yourself, learning about your strengths and weaknesses
- Finding different ways to show empathy
- Start a journal
- Practice meditation and mindfulness.
- Be curious and have an open mind to things.
- Have values to live by
- Consistent self-evaluation
Accept Your Feelings
You have to identify and address your feelings. It is important to understand that feelings matter; you can’t ignore them.
So, irrespective of the emotions you are feeling, whether it is happiness, sadness, guilt, or excitement, it is essential to not just label them with ‘good’ or ‘bad.
You have to be more detailed than that and not judge your feelings; instead, focus on understanding them a great deal.
Not identifying or addressing your feelings is not how you go about improving self-awareness in your leadership; instead, it is the exact opposite of being self-aware in your leadership.
By thinking about and introspecting on your feelings, you will be able to gain some valuable insights that can help you figure out what caused them in the first place.
Once you understand and accept your feelings and why you are feeling in a particular way, you can let them run their course, go through them, and let them go.
Being aware of your emotions is the first step to the self-awareness you would want to achieve for better leadership.
Identifying How Other People React To You
It is crucial to assess how your actions impact others. It would be best if you examined the merits of your efforts on every level, including professional and personal.
And to know that, you need to be more observant of how people are reacting to you. This is a great exercise to be more self-aware of yourself and what you do in a professional setting.
Look out for how people interact with you generally when you can notice the change in them. Whether people confront you with things? Or try to avoid you?
It is different for everyone. You have to be reflective of the reaction they give you to particular actions.
Try to identify the pattern. See what factors cause what type of reaction in them. Is it the same with everyone or most the people, or is it just some guys?
Getting Feedback From People
The journey to know yourself isn’t just exploring things within yourself but also going out into the world and finding out what they think of you.
Even though this feels quite scary, the result will be game-changing in so many ways. And the clarity you gain at the end of your feedback journey it’s liberating.
Just make sure you get your feedback from people who matter in your life and who can be trusted, such as family members, colleagues, friends, mentors, or perhaps others who are credible to assess you in one, many, or all aspects of your life.
For leadership, you must interact with your employees, seniors, and colleagues to get feedback.
It will help you better understand yourself, your personality, and your leadership style and quality.
You can always ask your team members how you’re doing as a leader. How do they perceive you in different situations? Whether they instill their trust and feel secure with you being a leader or not?
It’s crucial for you to make these conversations smooth and find honest answers. To make the feedback more legit, it is always recommended to gather input from multiple resources and recognize the patterns.
This means if a particular aspect of your personality or leadership is noted by most of the people or a lot of people you ask feedback from, then it does have merit.
Learning About Your Strengths & Weaknesses
Getting feedback on your leadership practices and overall skillset is essential, but it will only be valuable if you act on it.
So, if you are able to get all the data or information from people as to how they perceive you, now you can use this information to make necessary changes.
You can recognize what’s working for you and what doesn’t. Is it your personal interaction where you lack, and people seem to misunderstand you? Or is it the way you approach a project?
The other way around, there will also be some things that people like about you and appreciate, and that’s what you can call your strengths.
Rest, everything, where one way or another something lacks, is more or less your weakness which requires improvement.
But to know yourself and be self-aware to boost your leadership skills, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Perhaps you can focus more on your strengths and double down on that. You can be a little more attention to your shortcomings and work around things.
Finding Different Ways To Show Empathy
Empathy is a powerful tool or quality. And it is way more important in a workspace than one gives it credit to.
The ability or act of understanding and feeling others’ emotions and their decisions is what empathy means.
It is about considering others’ feelings as you communicate with them and coming to terms with them to make a decision.
This also allows you to pay more attention to the emotional needs of your employees or team members, and that becomes the guiding light to make the right decisions.
Empathy is the key to becoming a self-aware leader. It is about being mindful of people around you, their position, their motives, challenges, and desires, as well as their emotions.
Practice Meditation & Mindfulness
Your body language, vibe, and how you react to things, even sometimes without saying anything, impact you.
Also, it leaves a lasting impression on people about you as a person and a leader.
People are constantly communicating through their demeanor, behavior, and overall carrying themself.
So, how much control you have over your mind is essential. Does your mood dictate your behavior? Are you bothered easily? Are you aware of your surroundings and mindful of how you react?
Well, all of these are crucial to becoming an effective leader, a more self-aware leader. And to do that, you need to practice meditation and mindfulness.
Mindfulness will help you be content with your mind and be aware of yourself all the time. Meditation makes you calm and composed even in challenging situations and so much more.
You will be much more grounded and composed as a leader rather than moody, overreacting, impulsive, and careless.
Be Curious And Open To Things
A good leader always has an open mind to things. They understand that only being a wise person allows them not just to see things from different perspectives but also to resolve a problem creatively.
Such leaders are naturally curious and looking out to be more creative with things and find new ways to solve problems.
When you have an open mind, you welcome different ideas and perspectives to your way that caters to your growth.
The ability to understand others’ points of view makes you a more empathetic leader, more supportive, and more understanding. And due to this, you will be able to create long-lasting relationships with your employees.
You are also seen as a more considerate person, someone who can share what they think, giving you access to more information, hence the ability and opportunity to manage better.
Start A Journal
If self-awareness is the goal, journaling is the tool that helps you reach there. The biggest obstacle you are going to face in your journey to be self-aware is objectivity.
It is hard to separate yourself from your feelings and what goes inside.
If you are just able to materialize your feelings in some way, you can actually look at them from an objective point of view… Well, wait! You can. That’s where journaling helps.
Journaling allows you to bring your thoughts, your feelings, your memory, and everything inside your mind that often feels chaotic, random, or even abstract into life on paper or on a screen.
You have this tangible form of your inside mind which you can get a deeper understanding of. All you have to do is record your thoughts, emotions, and what goes inside your journal – it doesn’t matter whether it is good or bad, just without judgment.
When you look back on it, you will be able to pick what matters and what doesn’t. Journaling is therapeutic and makes you self-aware.
Especially for leaders, it makes them more self-aware and aware of their minds, hence having better control.
Have Values To Live By
You need to have your own set of values to live by. And it is crucial that you follow them.
If you feel good about how you are living your life, it makes you much more self-aware and confident.
It is a crucial part of being self-aware where you need to ask yourself now, introspect on things, take time to question your beliefs, and be double sure about them.
Because chances are there could be some underlying beliefs or non-aligned values that dictate your behavior or cause your problems.
Also, it is so much easier today to get lost or get off track which goes unnoticed. You need to be proactive and be in check with yourself.
If you find yourself acting up or reacting to things that go against your core beliefs and principles, you need to look inside and introspect.
Being aware of your beliefs from where your action must be driven makes you more confident and strong in your approach to things.
You have to understand that being self-aware is a process, and it is continuous and consistent. And that’s why you are supposed to keep working at it consistently.
A good leader is always able to self-evaluate and understand where he/she is at, what they want, and where & how to reach there.
Especially you have to come back to being self-aware every time you feel lost. However, the best way is to consistently practice being self-aware and having a dialogue with oneself about things.
You can make these things tangible by using tools like journaling, but essentially it is basically talking to yourself.
- Self-awareness is the foundation of effective leadership, as it allows leaders to recognize their own biases and limitations.
- Leaders can develop self-awareness through reflection, seeking feedback, and practicing mindfulness.
- Self-aware leaders are better able to build strong relationships with their team, communicate effectively, and make better decisions.
- It is important for leaders to balance self-awareness with a healthy level of self-confidence and avoid becoming overly self-critical or self-focused.
- Self-awareness can help leaders navigate difficult situations and conflicts by regulating their own emotions and responding effectively to the emotions of others.
- Various tools and assessments are available to measure self-awareness, but it is ultimately a personal and subjective experience that requires ongoing effort and practice.
- Building a culture of self-awareness within a team can lead to increased engagement, productivity, and overall success.
What is self-awareness in leadership?
Self-awareness in leadership refers to a leader’s ability to recognize their own strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and values and how these impact their leadership style and the people they lead.
Why is self-awareness important for leaders?
Self-awareness is important for leaders because it allows them to understand their own biases, blind spots, and limitations. This enables them to make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and build stronger relationships with their team.
How can leaders develop self-awareness?
Leaders can develop self-awareness through reflection, feedback from others, seeking out diverse perspectives, and practicing mindfulness or meditation.
Can self-awareness be learned, or is it innate?
Self-awareness can be learned and developed over time. While some people may be naturally more introspective, anyone can improve their self-awareness through intentional effort and practice.
How can self-awareness impact a team?
A self-aware leader is more likely to create a culture of openness, honesty, and trust within their team.
They are also better able to understand and address the needs and concerns of individual team members, leading to higher levels of engagement and productivity.
Are there any risks associated with self-awareness in leadership?
While self-awareness is generally considered a positive trait for leaders, it is important for them to avoid becoming overly self-focused or self-critical.
This can lead to indecision or inaction and may also impact the leader’s mental health and well-being.
Can self-awareness be measured or assessed?
Various tools and assessments are available to measure self-awareness, such as personality tests or 360-degree feedback surveys.
However, self-awareness is ultimately a subjective and personal experience, so it is important to use these tools in conjunction with personal reflection and feedback from others.
Can self-awareness help leaders navigate difficult situations or conflicts?
Yes, self-awareness can help leaders navigate difficult situations or conflicts by enabling them to regulate their own emotions and respond more effectively to the emotions of others.
It also helps leaders stay open-minded and solution-focused rather than defensive or reactive.
- Transformational Leadership Guide: Inspire and Motivate
- Defining Leadership: How to Lead And Manage A Team
- Choosing the Right Leadership Styles in Management
- What Does A Good Boss Do?
- How to Develop Team Strategy Planning With Tips & Definition
Carol T. Mahaffey is a certified American Author And a creator of Theleaderboy. Carol is a Self-Taught Marketer with 10+ Years of Experience. She brings her decade of experience to her current role, where she is dedicated to writing books, blogs, and articles, inspiring the world on how to become a better Leader.