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Why self-awareness is crucial to great leadership

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Self-awareness is commonly associated with the desirable skillset for leadership, providing myriad benefits for businesses, from improving the company’s bottom line to boosting relationships with colleagues. Yet, while it’s a skill that many leaders may claim to have, the reality is that few have mastered the art of true self-awareness to benefit from it when it comes to effective leadership.

The definition of self-awareness is understanding your personality traits and what makes you an individual, as well as areas where you could improve—it requires a willingness to recognise aspects of your character, good and bad, and who you are. It can be a difficult trait to develop, but the benefits of achieving self-awareness can be huge. So, how does self-awareness help leaders, and why is it such a crucial skill to learn? From managing your emotions to communication and trust, here are some advantages of self-awareness in leadership.

A key element of emotional intelligence

One of the primary elements of emotional intelligence connected to solid leadership skills is being self-aware. The reason for this is that emotional intelligence is required to manage your own emotions in a situation, whether they’re anxiety-inducing, stressful or joyous, and be able to identify the feelings of people around you.

As a leader, this is critical to developing humility and accepting that no one can know everything. Self-aware, emotionally intelligent leaders understand that learning is a continual process, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses—the goal is always to strive to improve. Self-awareness means opening up to your surrounding environment through unbiased observation to learn and develop new skills.

Blonde woman leaning against a wall, looking into a large mirror beside her.
Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Quantifiable results for businesses

Previous studies have shown that companies with self-aware employees tend to perform better financially—one of the reasons for this is that self-aware leaders tend to be able to prioritise tasks more effectively and make better decisions overall. In addition, self-awareness tends to align strongly with leadership maturity, enabling leaders with this quality to take positive and negative feedback on board without impacting them personally.

A successful leader understands how to take strengths and make the best use of those abilities, both in themselves and in their team. A strength-based approach helps foster better relationships among colleagues. It allows everyone to understand their role in the larger picture, which can help the company achieve its objectives and boost teamwork. But it also helps leaders gain the trust of their staff, which increases credibility and loyalty.

Better communication

Leadership development should encompass self-awareness as these types of individuals tend to be better communicators, which is indispensable in leadership. Managers and those in senior positions need to communicate with their team effectively to build trust and create a culture of honesty and transparency.

Two pairs of hands on a table, holding coffee cups.
Grab a coffee and talk, but more importantly, LISTEN.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Since self-aware leaders are more open-minded when it comes to learning and growing, they’re more likely to invite feedback and be willing to change as a result. For example, instead of asking why they got a negative outcome or why a project didn’t go to plan, self-aware leaders are more inclined to question what they could do differently next time or which factors influenced the result to learn from it.

Final thoughts

Being more attuned to the needs of those around you and managing our responses to different situations more effectively is part of being a successful leader. As a result, leaders need to develop strong emotional intelligence and self-awareness to communicate more effectively, build better professional relationships and take on feedback.

Ultimately, self-awareness requires you to stretch yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zones, as well as to ask for feedback from those around you. Mentorship can also help you understand the areas where greater self-awareness is needed to improve your leadership abilities.

This article originally appeared here.

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