How Self-Awareness Can Elevate Leadership Self-Awareness Can Elevate Leadership

Being self-aware means knowing ourselves well, including understanding our emotions, motives, and desires. Self-awareness means having a clear and accurate understanding of our emotional landscape, core values, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, it means seeing clearly and accurately how we impact others.

For leaders, there are many benefits to developing self-awareness.* For example, self-awareness can help leaders:

  1. enhance their sense of personal control
  2. assess their growth and effectiveness
  3. develop self-acceptance and self-compassion
  4. avoid wearing a mask or creating a persona that lacks authenticity
  5. see their blind spots
  6. recognize the ruts they’ve fallen into
  7. determine when it’s time to change course
  8. improve their decision-making
  9. increase their confidence
  10. manage stress
  11. reconnect with their excitement for leading
  12. use more of their potential
  13. improve their ethical behavior, making them less likely to lie, cheat, or steal
  14. understand what energizes them and what drains them
  15. discover their purpose, core values, strengths, and passions—and integrate them into their life and work
  16. increase their happiness and fulfillment
  17. communicate more effectively
  18. enhance their leadership presence
  19. elevate their influence
  20. develop their social intelligence and relational awareness, in the process improving their relationships
  21. earn the trust and respect of their followers

Leadership Derailers Assessment

Take this assessment to identify what’s inhibiting your leadership effectiveness. It will help you develop self-awareness and identify ways to improve your leadership.


Self-aware leaders are good at recognizing their feelings and inner signals, and they’re more likely to live in alignment with their core values. They tend to be more authentic, candid, and confident (and viewed as having those valuable traits). They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they’re more open to feedback and constructive criticism. Self-aware leaders are also more willing to ask for help.

Self-aware leaders have more satisfied workers. According to a cross-level study, self-knowledge and self-consistency (having a high degree of internal congruence) have a positive impact on perceived team effectiveness, organizational commitment, and followers’ satisfaction with their leaders.**

Self-aware leaders can help create self-aware teams, which are mindful of shared moods in the group (since emotions are contagious) and the emotional undercurrents of conversations and interpersonal and group dynamics.

Given all these benefits—for themselves and their followers, teams, and organizations—leaders are wise to invest in further developing their self-awareness.


Tools for You

Strengths Search

We all have core strengths–the things in which we most excel. Take this self-assessment to determine your core strengths so you can integrate them more into your life and work.


Related Resources


Postscript: Inspirations on Self-Awareness and Leadership

  • “If a man does not know himself, how should he know his functions and his powers?” -Michel de Montaigne, 16th century French philosopher
  • “There is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.” -Anthony Tjan, CEO, Cue Ball Capital
  • “Self-awareness is the foundation of authenticity.” -Bill George and Zach Clayton, True North: Emerging Leader Edition
  • “To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.” -Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

* According to researchers, practices like self-reflection, seeking feedback, and engaging in new behaviors based on feedback received can help predict success in management positions.

** Leroy, H., Anseel, F., Gardner, W., & Sels, L. (2015). Authentic leadership, authentic followership, basic need satisfaction, and work role performance: A cross-level study. Journal of Management, 41(6), 1677-1697.

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Gregg Vanourek is a writer, teacher, and TEDx speaker on personal development and leadership. He is co-author of three books, including Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations (a winner of the International Book Awards written with his father, Bob Vanourek). Check out their Leadership Derailers Assessment or get their monthly newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps! Self-Awareness Can Elevate Leadership

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