Self-Awareness: An Essential Key to Leadership Success

October 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm
Group of colleagues discussing ideas.

Self-aware team leaders can help their teams function better.

While understanding your employees or team members is an essential component of good leadership, understanding yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses is just as essential. Self-awareness is a universal trait of leaders because it isn’t possible to understand others until you understand yourself.

Author and professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Cam Caldwell, Ph.D., says:

“Self-awareness is an effort. It’s a conscious effort to invest in understanding who we are, who others are, our universal rules that [we] apply in life and our commitment to the future.” 

A leader’s self-awareness colors their leadership, and without self-awareness, leaders won’t have the emotional intelligence needed to apply truths about themselves and their world accurately to their teams.

“A correct understanding”

“Humility is a correct understanding of oneself, and that correct understanding leads to a better understanding of others — because once we love ourselves, we better learn to appreciate others as well,” Sam Caldwell, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois states.

It isn’t that self-awareness brings a negative view of self, but only an accurate one that isn’t puffed up by an inflated sense of importance or weighed down by insecurities that aren’t reality, either. When you can stay away from either of these extremes, you will learn that it’s okay not to know everything, but that the unique characteristics that form your being can help you connect with others and fill in gaps.

Group of colleagues sitting around a table smiling and talking.

The whole team benefits when leaders are more self-aware.

Looking to improve

Having a realistic view of yourself leads to a continual desire to improve. We all have the capacity to grow and develop new skills and traits. Once you become more aware of this part of yourself, you will have a better understanding of how to bring it out in your team members so that everyone benefits.

Improved self-awareness has been linked in studies to better working relationships, significant improvement in workplace effectiveness, and a reduction in stress. When leaders are increasing in self-awareness, it can have a ripple effect in their teams that multiplies these effects.

Addressing weaknesses

Most leaders can build on their strengths and the strengths of team members for effective collaboration, but self-awareness also helps leaders recognize areas of weakness that they might not otherwise notice or want to address. A realistic view of areas in your leadership that need improvement is just as important for how you lead your team as knowing your strengths, and it takes much more emotional intelligence to confront those parts of yourself in a healthy and productive way.

When weaknesses in your own leadership and in the functioning of the team are addressed in a constructive way that doesn’t tear team members down or demean them, the team can become stronger. It takes time and practice to do this well, but when it happens, it can remove many obstacles that teams encounter and unleash a level of functioning that most teams never reach.

Narish International wants to help you build higher-performing teams. Contact us today!