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Why being self-aware is critical to being an effective leader

Do you think that leaders really need to be self-aware?

Isn’t it enough that they just achieve great results?

Well, in my opinion, self-awareness, which is the ability to see yourself objectively through reflection, is critical for leadership.

I read, in an MIT Sloan Management Review article, the following:

“Self-awareness impacts the bottom line. Companies with stronger financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies.”

But have you ever wondered exactly what makes someone self-aware?

Let’s start by defining self-awareness.

My clients who most effectively demonstrate this trait are very conscious of how their actions, thoughts, and behaviours impact themselves and the people around them. 

  • They can pivot or change course when they recognize that their approach isn’t working.
  • They can stay calm under pressure.
  • They don’t spiral into an emotionally driven reaction to any situation.

Over the years, I have coached many leaders who lack self-awareness, and to be honest, it really impedes their ability to be successful.

In fact, a Harvard Business Review study interviewed 5000 leaders and found, “Even though most people believe they are self-aware, self-awareness is a truly rare quality: We estimate that only 10%–15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria.”

Yet, the good news is that you can develop self-awareness over time.

I often work with people who have no idea how their actions impact the people around them. Over time, these leaders learn to pause, make better choices about their behaviour and greatly improve their relationships AND results.

Remember, developing your self-awareness is not a one-time goal. Rather, it’s a life-long journey.

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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