Mastering Self-Awareness: The Cornerstone of Exceptional Leadership

self awareness

In a previous post, I shared 11 Core Leadership Behaviors for Success. In this post, I want to emphasize the behavior that I consider the foundation for effective leadership: self-awareness.

Leaders who possess self-awareness understand their strengths, weaknesses, values, emotions, and behavioral tendencies. This awareness allows them to make better decisions, manage their behavior, adapt their leadership style to different situations, and better understand their impact on others. Notice in the previous sentence, I said, ‘manage their behavior.’ This is critical because many of our behaviors are core to who we are, and they have been ingrained in us over many years. As a result, they are very difficult to change. However, if we’re aware of our tendencies and triggers, especially under stress, we can choose to behave differently and, therefore, achieve a different result.

So, I have two questions for you:

  • How self-aware are you of your strengths, weaknesses, values, emotions, and behavioral tendencies?
  • Do you know how you can become more self-aware?

Utilizing the many assessments available in the marketplace today is a great place to start to improve your self-awareness. Assessments have been around for many years and are becoming more sophisticated as time passes. Tools like Clifton Strengths Finder, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or DISC Assessment are a few valuable options to assist you with your self-awareness.

In my coaching practice, I use Profiles International’s PXT Select™ Assessment. This assessment considers the whole person and reveals in-depth, objective insight into an individual’s thinking and reasoning style, relevant behavioral traits, and occupational interests. Through its Leadership Report, it illuminates your inherent executive potential and your approach to confronting challenges, while achieving excellence in leadership by predicting how your characteristics will manifest in your behaviors. As a leader, you are responsible for engaging people, implementing policies, making decisions, and driving developments that advance organizational goals, for which stakeholders hold you accountable. The PXT Select™ Assessment and Leadership Report provide insight on the way you approach meeting these obligations and how to utilize your knowledge to maximize your leadership talent. This information can outline how best to capitalize on your strengths and where to focus your personal leadership development efforts. The PXT Select™ Assessment and Leadership Report is a very powerful and comprehensive tool worth exploring further to see how you might benefit.

Utilizing a 360-degree assessment across your direct reports, peers, managers, and even customers is a second approach to creating self-awareness about your strengths, weaknesses, values, emotions, and behavioral tendencies. This 360-degree assessment can be done qualitatively through confidential one-to-one interviews with the various key constituents you interact with and is usually conducted by a neutral third party. Alternatively, you can utilize a more quantitative method by using a tool such as Profiles International’s Checkpoint 360™, which combines feedback from direct reports, supervisors, and customers to highlight a manager’s job performance in eight Universal Management Competencies: communication, leadership, adaptability, relationships, task management, production, development of others, and personal development. Either way, getting feedback from those you interact with on a regular basis is critical to harness effective leadership skills and drive results. You never know how you are really perceived by others and how your daily interactions are interpreted until you ask them. It’s critical to review your leadership skills through the lenses of others so you can adjust accordingly to maximize your leadership potential.

Of course, creating this initial self-awareness is just the start in your leadership journey. The next step is making sure you know how to leverage your strengths, as well as work on the one or two improvement areas you can focus on over the next 6 – 12 months that can make the greatest impact on your leadership effectiveness. As we said earlier, making changes is difficult, so don’t try to do too much. Take your time and continually assess how you’re doing.

A word about accountability partners. One great way to continually assess how you’re progressing is to identify someone, or multiple people you work with whom you can trust and who will give you honest feedback. Share with them what you’re working on and every month or two ask them how you’re doing. Make sure you listen and take the feedback for what it was meant to do: help you become the best leader possible. A second approach to accountability partners is to utilize a coach to help you on your leadership journey. Coaches can help you with taking and analyzing your assessments, assist you with developing your individual development plan, and finally be an accountability partner and unbiased sounding board.

One final thought about self-awareness… you may often hear me make the following statement at the end of my videos and on other written materials: “Be a Leader Today”. This statement was born through my own leadership journey. Upon completing an Executive Leadership Program that I was privileged to attend; I created a rubber wrist bracelet that I wear daily to consistently remind me that I want to “Be a Leader Today.” Not tomorrow, but today! It also, helps me keep in the front of my mind my own personal challenges and triggers so I can alter my behavior to ensure I am the best leader possible.  Perhaps something like this can work for you as well.

So, here’s my challenge to you… what can you do to “Be a Leader Today”?

To learn more about each of my 11 Core Leadership Behaviors for Success, please visit my previous post here.

I’m here to help however I can so feel free to reach out @, 412-302-4298,