Self-awareness is a key component when discussing the factors that make up an effective leader. Individuals who are self-aware are more likely to make informed decisions, communicate clearly, and inspire their teams to achieve their goals. In this blog, I will explore the importance of self-awareness in leadership and discuss strategies for developing this critical skill.
What is Self-Awareness in Leadership?
Self-awareness in leadership refers to the ability to recognise your emotions, values, strengths, weaknesses, and biases. It means understanding how your actions and behaviours impact others and being open to feedback from others. Leaders who are self-aware are mindful of their thoughts, feelings, and actions, and they use this self-knowledge to make informed decisions that benefit their teams and organisations.
Why is Self-Awareness Important in Leadership?
Self-awareness is important in leadership for several reasons. Firstly, it helps leaders to understand their strengths and weaknesses, which allows them to delegate tasks more effectively and to build teams that complement their skills. Self-awareness also enables leaders to recognise their biases and to make decisions based on objective criteria rather than personal preferences.
Secondly, self-aware leaders are better communicators. They are able to express themselves clearly and listen actively to others. They are also more empathetic, which allows them to understand the perspectives and needs of their team members.
Finally, self-awareness is essential for building trust and credibility with team members. When leaders are transparent about their strengths and weaknesses, they demonstrate humility and vulnerability, which can inspire team members to do the same. This creates a culture of openness and trust, which is essential for effective teamwork.
How to Develop Self-Awareness in Leadership
Developing self-awareness is an ongoing process that requires continuous reflection and self-evaluation. Here are some strategies that leaders can use to develop their self-awareness:
- Work with a Coach: Partnering with a coach can be an effective way to develop self-awareness because coaches are trained to provide objective feedback and support. Coaches are skilled at helping individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses, and they can provide guidance on how to leverage their strengths while addressing areas for improvement.
- Seek feedback: Asking for feedback from colleagues, team members, and mentors can provide valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to feedback and take it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Development journal: Keeping a journal can be an effective way to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It can also help you identify patterns and areas for improvement.
- Try a personality assessment: Personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can provide insights into your personality traits, values, and strengths. The VIA Character Strengths online survey is a free tool you can try.
In summary, self-awareness is a critical skill for effective leadership. Leaders who are self-aware are better communicators, decision-makers, and team builders. Developing self-awareness requires continuous reflection and self-evaluation, but the benefits are well worth the effort.
About the author
Tomas Mason is an experienced Executive Coach specialising in leadership development. He trained with Henley Business School and is accredited by the EMCC. Prior to coaching Tom was a senior leader in the financial services sector.