The Importance of Self-Awareness in a Leadership Role

Photo of Ivan Lapyrin in Unsplash

Let me ask you, have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”?

It’s a common metaphor that means you are too close to something to see it objectively. Well, self-awareness is the key to stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. It’s about understanding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and how they impact those around you.

When it comes to leadership, self-awareness is not just important; it’s critical. A leader must know his strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, and triggers. He must regulate his emotions, empathise with others, and communicate clearly. And all of these skills require self-awareness.

But here’s the irony. Even though self-awareness is essential, it only comes naturally to some. In fact, some research suggests that only about 10-15% of people are truly self-aware. The good news is that self-awareness is a skill that can be developed like any other. And that’s where coaching and mentoring come in.

A coach or mentor can help you see yourself more clearly. They can challenge your assumptions, provide feedback, and offer a different perspective. They can also help you identify patterns in your behaviour and guide you in developing new habits.

One of the most powerful tools for self-awareness is feedback. But let’s be honest; feedback can be hard to hear. It’s easy to get defensive or dismissive when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear. But think of feedback like a mirror. It may not show you what you want to see, but it shows you the truth. And if you can look at that truth objectively, you can use it to grow and develop.

Another tool for self-awareness is mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being present at the moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It’s about noticing when you’re getting triggered or reactive and taking a step back before you react. And the best part is, mindfulness is a skill you can practice anywhere, anytime.

But here’s the thing. Self-awareness is not a one-and-done kind of thing. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort. It’s about being willing to look at yourself honestly and make changes when needed. And that’s why coaching and mentoring are so important. They can provide the support and guidance you need to grow and develop.

So, let’s take a closer look at how coaching and mentoring can help you develop self-awareness.

Coaching is a one-on-one relationship with a professional coach who can help you identify and achieve your personal and professional goals. A coach can help you develop self-awareness in several ways:

  • Asking powerful questions – A coach will ask you open-ended questions that will help you reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These questions will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your motivations.
  • Providing feedback – A coach will provide you with honest and constructive feedback that will help you identify your blind spots and areas for improvement.
  • Challenging assumptions – A coach will challenge your assumptions and help you see things from a different perspective. This can be incredibly helpful in developing self-awareness.
  • Goal-setting – A coach will help you set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. This can be a powerful tool for self-awareness because it forces you to reflect on what you want and why you want it.
  • Accountability – A coach will hold you accountable for the goals you set and the actions you take. This can help you stay motivated and focused on your self-awareness journey.

Mentoring is another valuable tool for developing self-awareness. A mentor is someone who has more experience and expertise in a particular area and can provide guidance and support to someone who is less experienced. Here’s how mentoring can help you develop self-awareness:

  • Role-modeling – A mentor can serve as a role model for self-awareness. Observing how they handle situations and reflecting on their actions teaches you much about self-awareness.
  • Feedback – Like a coach, a mentor can provide you with feedback on your performance and help you identify areas for improvement.
  • Networking – A mentor can help you expand your network and connect with others who can provide valuable insights and feedback.
  • Perspective – A mentor can offer a different perspective on your situation or challenge. This can help you see things more clearly and develop a deeper understanding of yourself.

So, whether you choose coaching or mentoring, the important thing is that you commit to developing your self-awareness. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. When you’re self-aware, you’re better able to manage your emotions, communicate effectively, and make better decisions. You’re also better equipped to lead others and build strong relationships.

Self-awareness is a critical component of effective leadership, but it’s a skill that not everyone possesses naturally. Fortunately, self-awareness is a skill that can be developed with the help of coaching and mentoring. These tools can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, identify areas for improvement, and develop new habits and behaviours. So, if you’re committed to growing and developing as a leader, invest in your self-awareness. It may be the best investment you ever make.

Yours truly,

Ricardo Castelhano