Understanding Your Leadership Impact Through Self-Awareness by Cindy Stradling CSL., CPC
Self-awareness is a vital part of being an authentic and effective leader. Leaders who have developed their sense of self-awareness are able to not only manage their own behaviors and emotions but also discern how their presence or lack of presence is impacting the people around them.
Self-awareness is part of being an emotionally intelligent leader. It is the ability to know what you know about yourself while also being aware of any blind spots or areas of thought and behavior that may potentially create limitations or hinder the ability to form authentic connections with others. Becoming self-aware allows the leader to honestly assess their strengths and areas of growth, creating a pathway for ongoing personal and professional development.
Understand Your Biases
Everyone has biases or negative and positive thoughts about others, things, groups, or events. These thoughts, beliefs, prejudices, or inclinations to see things through a particular lens have often developed over time. Biases are typically learned, but they can also be innate and originate from early childhood.
Regardless of how the bias developed, it creates an imbalance in a leader’s ability to make decisions or to assess situations. Becoming self-aware creates curiosity about why thoughts occur that are disproportionately negative or positive. This awareness helps to evaluate decision making and limit the impact of biases on how leaders perform and make choices.
Developing Empathy and Growth
Becoming self-aware allows a leader to respond with empathy rather than judgment. Having the ability to see things from more than one point of view opens up opportunities for increased understanding, better decision making, and to accept feedback.
Self-aware leaders are comfortable in asking questions, letting others take the lead, and accepting constructive criticism and recommendations. They can be human and authentic, which creates an environment where the leader is seen as a learner and not always the expert.
Having emotional control and awareness of emotions during challenging conversations, conflict, negotiations, and difficult situations helps a self-aware leader respond rather than react. Having the ability to recognize emotions and how they are impacting the decision-making process or the interaction allows a leader to avoid outbursts or escalations that only make the situation more difficult.
When a leader is comfortable and confident with her or his self-awareness, they are inclusive. They have a clear picture of how they function best and the tools and strategies to keep them at this level, even in very challenging interactions. These leaders are seen as credible, honest, and compassionate by team members and those they interact with, helping to create a positive work environment.