Ask 100 leadership experts what the most important leadership skill is for the new hybrid workplace and you may get responses like listening, vulnerability, emotional intelligence, humility, coaching, etc. There have been many studies and articles with solid reasoning for developing all of those soft skills in leaders. But many of these abilities are based on one truly important attribute that accelerates our growth in most aspects of life: Self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, values, beliefs, behaviors, passions, purpose, etc. Being self-aware is the first component of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) model and an important element of the Johari window (transparency, blind spots, etc.). It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that becoming self-aware is the first step for effective personal branding too.
Today, in the hybrid world of work, self-awareness is even more important. That’s because human connection is waning while building relationships based on trust and honesty is becoming harder as real-world interaction between and a leader and her people (and among team members) is diminished.
Here are 8 reasons why self-awareness is absolutely critical for today’s leaders:
1. Self-awareness enables leaders to cultivate an environment of inclusion and acceptance.
By being open and honest about their own feelings, attributes and challenges a leader is demonstrating through their own actions that they have created a safe place for their team members. Employees who know that their individuality, well-being and mental health are supported tend to have higher job satisfaction, therefore increasing the likelihood of retaining that employee. In fact, 89% of workers at companies that support well-being initiatives are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work, according to the APA.
2. Self-awareness helps leaders understand and use their superpowers.
This enables them to acknowledge where they excel and how to apply their greatest skills to support their team to achieve their mission. They’re aware of how these strengths impact expectations—their own and the expectations of their people. This transparency allows teams to learn how to acknowledge each other’s strengths and work with their collective strengths to achieve results.
3. Self-awareness helps leaders understand their biases.
They are clear about how these factors might impact their decisions and actions. Being self-aware also allows them to be more tuned in to the needs, feelings and experiences of others. They are more committed to adapting their leadership style to meet the situation and the individuals involved.
4. Self-awareness helps leaders to be more understanding.
It helps them to be more aware of the impact of their actions on those around them. They make decisions more thoughtfully and are more likely to consider the needs and perspectives of others.
5. Self-awareness improves decision making.
That’s because self-aware leaders consider their own emotions and biases when making decisions. This is especially important in situations where their choices can have a significant impact on employees, the team and the organization.
6. Self-awareness enables leaders to grow.
Self-aware leaders are more open to receiving candid feedback and pursuing self-improvement. The Journal of Applied Psychology found that self-aware leaders tend to be more open to feedback and more willing to change their leadership style to fit the needs of their team. When they are open about their limitations, they can commit to enhancing their skills and modifying mindsets and behaviors. By being open about weaknesses, they demonstrate vulnerability and become more relatable and trustworthy to those around them.
7. Self-awareness helps leaders keep their emotions in check.
Leaders who are self-aware are better able to recognize and manage their own emotions, which can help them respond more effectively to difficult situations and conflicts. This can improve their ability to lead and manage others as they’re better able to react to challenges or change in positive, less disruptive ways.
8. Self-awareness lets leaders build trust and credibility.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, self-aware leaders are more likely to be perceived as authentic, fair, trustworthy and credible by their employees. That’s because they’re able to recognize their own mistakes and limitations and are willing to acknowledge them openly. This honesty helps build trust and credibility with their team and stakeholders.
Incorporating self-awareness into the early stages of leadership development programs helps provide success-driven talent with the necessary foundation on which to build their unique platform. These programs can include activities like mindfulness, 360Reach feedback surveys and opportunities for self-reflection and coaching. The results will extend well beyond the 8 benefits in this article, delivering a mindset of lifelong clarity.