coachingTo be an effective human leader within the corporate world today, one must know oneself. We can work with our strengths and overcome our weaknesses when we have good self-knowledge. Our strengths can be used to compensate for our weaknesses if we know where we tend to fall short.

We waste time, effort, and communication by jumping from one idea to the next without considering whether they have any chance of working. In professional life, most people are unlikely to have the luxury of unlimited trial and error, especially those who are responsible for leading others. Trying something new is one thing but grasping leadership tactics when other people’s time and talents are involved is quite another.

This does not mean that trying out new things is a bad idea. Everyone should, at times, step outside their comfort zones. We need to learn about our strengths and weaknesses as we grow as leaders and as professionals. Understanding oneself and making the most of that understanding is the idea of self-awareness. This is perhaps the most fundamental principle

What is the meaning of self-awareness?

Self-knowledge is the first step toward self-awareness. It involves monitoring our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs using our self-knowledge. Unique experiences, beliefs, and abilities are a part of ourselves, which makes us unique. Self-awareness enables us to evaluate ourselves objectively, and it is a central component of self-control.

In order for emotional intelligence to develop, self-awareness must be present, which will only be possible in the context of true self-awareness. Observing ourselves and monitoring our inner world are two of the most important components of self-awareness. Being honest with ourselves in a non-judgmental way is more important than judging ourselves. Being open-minded and eager to learn is a sign of self-awareness.

It is remarkable how well the human brain stores information about a stimulus, trigger, or situation so that we are prepared when it occurs again. Self-conditioning, which is a product of our prior experiences, is valuable, but it can be even more valuable when we learn to recognize it and acknowledge our preconceptions. That is precisely what helps us grow and step outside of our comfort zones.

Self-awareness enables us to come to peace with our identity and manage our emotions, behavior, and thoughts in a proactive rather than reactive manner. By doing so, we are able to act consciously and to expand our experience of life.

There is a difference between being aware of yourself and being absorbed by yourself

Being self-aware isn’t the same thing as being self-absorbed. Selfishness and egotistical behavior are certain results of being preoccupied with oneself. Self-absorption refers more to being too preoccupied with oneself in order to the exclusion of others or the outside world, than it does about knowing oneself.

In gaining self-awareness, individuals learn how to relate to the world better by looking inward. The self-absorbed person only looks outward to ensure that his or her needs are met, ignoring the needs of others. The ability to recognize and compensate for our personal limitations is an essential component of self-awareness. An individual whose focus is constantly on himself is unable to honestly assess whether certain character traits are maladaptive or hold him back.

How can you become more self-aware?

Perhaps ironically, being able to listen to other people is one of the most effective ways to increase self-awareness. Being able to hear what someone says isn’t the same as being able to listen to what someone says. In order to listen effectively, you must tune into the emotions, body language, and words of others. Being able to do this without constant judgment will increase empathy and can help you hear your own inner voice without judgment or evaluation.

Getting new perspectives can also increase self-awareness. You may be surprised to learn that other people view situations differently than you. The first step toward asking for and receiving honest feedback is to learn to value other people’s viewpoints.

The process of gathering 360-degree feedback on a client is of enormous value to all executive coaches. By recognizing their blind spots and accepting feedback, individuals gain a fuller understanding of themselves and a greater sense of self-awareness.

People find that keeping a journal can help them become more self-aware. We can gain a great deal of insight into our thoughts and behavior by letting thoughts flow on paper and then reviewing them later on.

For many people, taking some “down time” every day is vital to developing greater self-awareness. The act of being alone with your thoughts without the distraction of your phone or computer is difficult at times, but it is one of the best ways to connect with yourself.

How does self-awareness enhance leadership effectiveness?

When we lack self-awareness, we easily fool ourselves into believing that we are knowledgeable when we aren’t. This results in projects failing, people quitting, and revenues dropping at the hands of a leader. Having self-awareness allows us to see our strengths and weaknesses and knowing both is critical to effective leadership.

As well as being aware of their inner world, thoughts, emotions, strengths and weaknesses, self-aware leaders also have a better understanding of their surroundings (due to stronger empathy). Leadership that is self-aware strengthens the individual’s performance while eliciting the best performance from the team as a whole. When a leader possesses self-awareness, trust, and wisdom, his or her team is loyal and hardworking.

Those who are self-aware are more likely to strive for improvement since they know their own limitations. Their qualities include asking for feedback, listening to team members, and trusting them to contribute to the success of the project, team, and organization. Self-aware leaders also have a smaller chance of causing internal conflict within their teams. Therefore, a leader’s self-awareness encourages others to be self-aware and reap its benefits.

In what ways can non-self-aware leaders fail?

There are many leaders who believe they excel at a certain skill when in fact they do not. You may also find leaders who believe they are great to work with, despite driving off the best team members. It is likely that everyone has dealt with people who, despite their impeccable credentials, lack insight into how they are perceived by others. It is more than just frustrating to work with people who lack self-awareness. They can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of teams.

Not all workplace conflicts can be attributed to a lack of self-awareness, however, many are, and they may result from ill-informed training or inadequate leadership. There is some good news, though. People who lack self-awareness may actually want to be effective, but they are unaware that they are not.

There is no doubt that leadership style is shaped by a person’s personality; leadership culture, in turn, shapes organizational culture. Leaders with negative behavior tend to have ingrained personality characteristics that have gone unrecognized for a lifetime. Success rarely lasts for a leader with little self-awareness despite producing results (perhaps through intimidation or other questionable tactics).

Those with outstanding potential are unlikely to stay with leaders who employ methods unsupported by self-awareness. When they see a toxic culture taking shape, they are typically the first to leave.

Self-awareness is important whether you pursue top leadership positions or not. You will be able to lead more effectively if you attain positions of leadership. Executive coaches work regularly with clients on improving their self-awareness since it is such an important aspect of strong leadership.

For more information on how to increase your own self-awareness in order to become a better and more effective leader for your organization, please contact John Mattone today to learn more about intelligent leadership in the workplace.

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