Being in a position of leadership requires a variety of traits, skills and a certain level of strategic thinking, that will ensure success within that role. It is very common to think that in order to be an effective leader, all you need to have is years of experience and the relevant qualifications. While relevant credentials are a vital aspect in leadership, there is one trait that proves universal in all effective leaders alike, and that is Self-awareness.
Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund proposed this definition:
“Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards.”
Self-awareness is an essential trait of a great leader. By knowing one’s values, personality, needs, habits and emotions, and their subsequent impact on your actions and the actions of others, you’ll be better able to manage your stress, make better decisions and ultimately lead others to do the same.
Effective leaders use self-awareness in order to manage their own behaviour and relationships. As imperfect beings, leaders need to develop self-knowledge in order to better compensate for their natural tendencies and abilities, as they make decisions in the workplace.
As essential as it is, self-awareness is not acquired automatically. Developing self-awareness is extremely difficult. In fact, Cam Caldwell, a professor at the university of Illinois, says self-awareness is an effort; a conscious effort to better understand who we are and who others are. Leaders who develop this trait are more likely to perform successfully at their jobs and ensure that the team, or organisation performs optimally as well.
Characteristics of a self-aware leader:
The phrase “with great power, comes great responsibility” is one that echoes the importance of being self-aware as a leader. Being a leader is more than just about the bottom line, and pushing production, it is also about the individuals that work hard to ensure that the organisation is a success. Ensuring that those individuals are in a healthy environment that allows them to effectively perform. It is therefore imperative that those in leadership positions are in constant pursuit of reaching a level of self-awareness that contributes to themselves, the employees/team members, and the organisation at large.