Understanding yourself as a leader is critical. Leadership awareness is a core component of emotional intelligence. Self awareness is your ability to identify and manage your emotions – but how do you know if you’ve got it? It’s one of the most valuable leadership competencies, essential for effective leadership. Awareness demands that you reflect and develop. How? We take a look at what awareness is and how to develop the power of self awareness in 3 simple steps.
What is Leadership Awareness?
Leadership awareness is that self understanding that all great leaders possess. It’s not spin, it’s not bluff, it’s not brag. Laser like awareness is knowing yourself inside out, your behaviours, values, strengths and limitations with no holds barred honesty. When your leading self awareness helps you to better understand yourself and your reactions along with those around you. Think of it as the leadership X factor.
How Does Self Awareness Benefit You as a Leader?
Self awareness is the capstone of social awareness, that external awareness necessary for self regulation, teamwork and truly effective leadership. Examples of self awareness in the workplace might be recognising that you are experiencing an emotional trigger but not reacting to it without reflecting on the most appropriate wat forwards first. Another example is the ability to laugh at yourself. In primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman describes leaders posessing self awareness as “People who are…honest about themselves with others to the point of being able to laugh at their own foibles” Self aware leaders are authentic and transparent. You know your purpose, your intentions and how you connect with the world around you.
Why Self Awareness is Important
Lack of self management in leadership can damage your brand, your career, your relationships and your organisation. The problem is, if you don’t have it, you might not know. Leading yourself could probably your most important project. We take a close up look at what it takes to master leadership awareness.
How to be Self Aware
1. Seek Leadership Feedback
How do you know if you have leadership awareness? Reflect on your interactions with colleagues, clients and direct reports. Take a self awareness assessment. Identify your scotomas and learn about youself by filling in the gaps with feedback from others. Find a coach or solicit feedback on your leadership behaviours, how you communicate and interact with others. Use 360 multi rater assessments and ask others informally. Hone your listening skills for clues as to where you can increase your performance. Make it ok for colleagues to be candid, creating a culture of growth mindset rather than blame. Take every opportunity you can to learn from those around you.
2. Identify Your Strengths & Non Strengths
Be honest with yourself about where your strengths lay. They’re what got you where you are now and made you the leader that you are. Not sure? Take a strengths assessment. One of our favourrites is Penn University’s VIA Strengths Assessment, it’s free and a great place to start to discover your unique signature strengths. Alongside recognising your strengths, it’s equally important to identify your weaknesses. By becoming aware of your weaknesses you’re creating an opportunity for development and growth and building leadership awareness.
3. Learn to Treat Your Emotions as Data
The self aware leader doesn’t push down, ignore or reject their emotions. They don’t allow anxiety or panic to reign either. They use awareness management techniques to recognise that the nuances of their emotions provide a valuable source of information. Emotional intelligence necessitates recognising and paying attention to that data, using them to strike the perfect balance.
Rather than fighting your emotions, learn to take a step back and observe them without judging your observations. Known as metacognition, this leadership competency is key to mining and utilising your emotional data. Formal mindfulness training or mindful coaching are effective ways of accelerating your metacognition. The empirical evidence indicates that the regular practice of mindfulness may contribute to improved stress response and adaptability as a result of increased neuroplasticity.
Leadership Awareness Quotes
“Self awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung
“I think self-awareness is probably the most important
thing towards being a champion.” – Billie Jean King
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman
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