Self-awareness: The key to leadership?

by Sarah Megginson02 Apr 2014
Self-awareness is an underrated leadership competency, as it underpins the more obvious qualities of a leader, including confidence and strategic thinking. Learning how to master it could consquently be the key to becoming an outstanding HR leader.
Holding a mirror up to yourself and your own beliefs and actions is essential if you want to become an effective leader, according to Sarah Derry from People Reaching Potential.
“By consistently reviewing yourself, looking at your actions and evaluating your behaviours, you will develop the ability to critically and honestly assess your own strengths and weaknesses,” Derry said.

“This creates self-awareness, which drives your ability to manage your emotions and critically assess yourself, and be honest with the answers around that.”
It’s only once you become aware of your own strengths and potential flaws that you can effectively lead others to lean in towards their best qualities, Derry said.
“It is a challenge because early on in our careers, if we develop good functional and technical skills, we get promoted. But when we eventually get thrown into leadership, we often haven’t yet developed the self-awareness and confidence that is required of this type of role.”
One of the aims of engaging in self-observation is to help you break down barriers and connect with your team, as people are “often not aware of the impact they have on others”, she said.
“Someone might say, ‘They’re really intimidating, they seem angry all the time,’ – when in actual fact, the person is just concentrating really hard, or they’re running around the office trying to meet a deadline,” Derry said.
“When you get certain feedback more than once, and there’s some consistency in the message, it’s worth looking deeper. People love to be asked their opinion, so if you ask trusted colleagues for honest feedback, you’ll get it.”


  • by Paul Gabrielli 3/04/2014 9:32:07 AM

    This is excellent advice as we all to often look at others as the reasons for why poor behavior occurs. Self awareness is actually one of the most important qualities of a great manager. Really good advice!!

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