Self-awareness is often described as the single most important quality for effective leadership. Daniel Goleman, who popularised the concept of emotional intelligence in the 1990s described it as a key ingredient for leadership success.
“Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but they still won’t make a great leader.”
People are more likely to trust leaders who hold themselves accountable and are open and honest about their own abilities and areas where they need to improve. And we know that creating a culture with a foundation of trust can increase engagement among employees. Improved self-awareness has also been shown to lead to better decision-making as leaders understand why they make certain decisions and recognise the impact of their own emotions.
"Self-awareness is your ability to notice your thoughts and feelings and how they influence your behaviours, your preferences and how you react.”
However, improving our own self-awareness is not always easy. A study by Tasha Eurich in 2018 found that even though most people (95%) believe that they are self-aware, true self-awareness is a rare quality. They estimated that only 10-15% of the people in the study actually fit the criteria.
On our leadership programs, we encourage our delegates to increase their own self-awareness and an important aspect of this is learning to better understand why you feel what you feel and why you think, behave and / or act in a particular way.
Here are the first steps for developing and increasing your own self-awareness:1. Reflect
When looking to improve our own self-awareness, a good place to start is by ‘holding a mirror up to ourselves.’ Learning about yourself can be difficult but taking time to reflect (i.e. to deeply, consciously think), can bring many benefits. Set time aside and identify what you want to reflect on, for example:
- what went well today?
- what could I improve on?
- how did I help my team towards achieving their goals?
Some people prefer to write their thoughts down or even talk them through with a trusted friend / colleague.
2. Learn about your emotional triggers
Self-aware individuals can identify their emotions as they are happening. By being aware, you can then identify how you manage those feelings and how any subsequent actions impact those around you. Increasing your awareness will also allow you to respond in an appropriate manner to challenging or difficult situations in the workplace and make better decisions.
3. Seek feedback
Whilst we can develop an improved understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses through self-reflection or self-assessment, it is impossible for us to be fully self-aware without seeking others’ perspectives. By getting honest feedback from others, we can build our self-belief by gaining a clearer idea of what we are doing well as well as identifying opportunities for learning and improvement.
Delegates on our LEAD™ program carry out a shadowing project where they work with trusted peers to evaluate and learning from each other’s leadership performance whilst delegates on our LEADlight program for ‘middle leaders’, are tasked with asking for feedback from their managers, peers and direct reports to enable them to create an action plan to build on what they are doing well as well as focusing on areas where performance needs to be improved.
If you would like to learn more about programs for senior leaders (LEAD™) or current or aspiring managers (LEADlight), please click on their links. You can also book a call with one of the QuoLux™ team to talk through how we may be able to help you - just send us a message here.