Four Ways to Become More Self-Aware

Great leaders connect, inspire, encourage, and motivate others to become their very best so they deliver their absolute best work for the betterment of the team.  All great leaders have one thing in common – they’ve mastered the ability to understand their own thoughts, emotions, strengths, and capabilities.  

They’re self-aware.  

Researcher, organizational psychologist, and NY Times bestselling author, Tasha Eurich, explains in her HBR article, “We’ve found that even though most people believe they’re self-aware, self-awareness is truly a rare quality:  We estimate only 10% – 15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria.”

If you think back to all of your past leaders, managers, and coworkers, a few examples may come to mind of people who thought they were self-aware but in reality, not so much.  

The Risks of Lacking Self-Awareness

  • If you fail to realize our emotional triggers (events which cause us stress, tension, sadness, or frustration), you run the risk of being overcome with negativity, which cause you to react negatively, or in poor form.
  • Unless or until you understand your natural strengths and limitations, you run the risk of working in jobs or careers which unfortunately may never give you a sense of enjoyment, pride in your work, or a sense of purpose in your life.  
  • Unless you’re aware of your own capabilities, you run the risk of never understanding your self-worth.  This limits your ability to grow personally and professionally, which could limit your self-confidence and sense of fulfillment in your life and work.

The good news is that you can constantly learn about yourself, gaining insight into your emotions, your natural strengths, and your capabilities.  Most importantly, by increasing your self-awareness, you’ll discover more impactful ways to connect with, inspire, encourage, and motivate your team.  

Four Ways to Become a Better Leader by Becoming More Self-Aware

  1. Reflect and keep a journal.  Carve out time each day to pause and reflect.  Simply take ten minutes to yourself and assess how you’re feeling and what may have triggered your thoughts and feelings.  Once you’re aware of what triggers your emotions or negative thoughts, you can begin working on responding instead of reacting.
  1. Personality and strengths assessments.  Invest in personality and strengths assessments such as DiSC, Myers-Briggs, True Colors, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, or Clifton Strengths.  You’ll gain insight into your tendencies and personality traits which make you, you.  You’ll also learn your natural strengths, which will give you confidence and boost your self-worth.  
  1. Feedback from loved ones.  Seek honest, direct feedback from close friends and family who love you and want to see you grow.  It’s important to be selective and make sure you seek feedback from friends and family members who are not afraid to share the good, bad, and ugly with you.  It may be awkward and difficult to hear in the moment, but just remind yourself that all feedback is a gift which can help you improve, grow, and develop into the best version of yourself.
  1. Anonymous feedback from direct reports.  Asking for feedback from direct reports takes courage, and it’s effective if you do it the right way.  Of course, the risk is that people will hold back and be hesitant to be honest.  That’s why it’s important to keep it anonymous.  Your direct reports will often see things you do not see.  Awareness of how your own thoughts, emotions, and tendencies affect those around you – positively and negatively – gives you the ability to capitalize on what you do well and intentionally work on areas with opportunity for improvement.

While a lack of self-awareness could cost you, increasing your self-awareness will propel you in life and in your career.  

Be vulnerable enough to discover more about your emotions, strengths, and capabilities, and be courageous enough to leverage the insight you gain to become the best leader you can be.

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