3 ways to achieve self-awareness—and become a better leader

Early on in my profession, one of many leaders I labored with taught me a useful lesson. So as to achieve success, it was going to be my duty to at all times ask questions, increase my hand for assist, and communicate up after I was uncertain about one thing. This leader was by no means bashful about exhibiting me how my very own private blockers might inhibit my profession progress.

Up till that time, I had interpreted asking for assist as a signal of weak point, and consultant of my skilled shortcomings. It took me a strong two years to overcome that false impression, and to perceive why I wanted to acknowledge the talents I hadn’t but mastered. The rationale? You’ll be able to’t repair what’s hidden, and you may’t follow what you don’t acknowledge.

I didn’t notice it on the time, however I used to be on a path to growing self-awareness. I started studying extra about what it truly means to be self-aware, and the way it can profit your skilled growth. Curiously, the typical particular person believes they’re self-aware—however research has discovered solely 10% to 15% of individuals truly match the factors.


The advantages of self-awareness are tenfold. It catapults your capacity to clearly articulate your wishes and to ask for assist in forging the trail to get you there. It additionally creates stronger management competencies. Self-awareness has helped me stability my expectations of individuals, lead with extra empathy, and to take away a number of the unconscious biases that many people unknowingly combine into our conversations with others. It’s additionally helped me make a few of my most vital profession choices, as a result of I’ve realized to mirror on the talents I haven’t mastered but and discover roles that can assist me develop these abilities.

However nurturing self-awareness isn’t a fast repair. It’s an ongoing journey, the place you’ll expertise phases, based mostly on folks and occasions you’re uncovered to over time. The excellent news is that self-awareness is a realized habits. We will all attempt to inch simply a little bit nearer to totally understanding how and what actually motivates us.

Listed here are three ways you may follow growing self-awareness to develop your management abilities.

Perceive the place you over-and-under index

A groundbreaking research project from Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist, recognized that there are literally two varieties of self-awareness: inner self-awareness and exterior self-awareness. They usually’re not mutually unique; you may possess one or each sorts.

Inside self-awareness represents how clearly we see our personal values, passions, aspirations, ideas, emotions and our affect on others. Research have proven that this sort of consciousness correlates with increased job and relationship satisfaction, in addition to normal happiness.

Exterior self-awareness represents understanding different folks’s perceptions of our worth programs and our ideas or our emotions. When folks drift in direction of exterior self-awareness, they sometimes perceive how others view them. And, they’re extra expert at exhibiting empathy and taking in different folks’s views.


Throughout the two buckets of self-awareness, there are 4 management (*3*): Introspection, Seekers, Conscious, and Pleasers. I fall into the Conscious and Pleaser classes. Which means I do know who I’m and what I would like, and I’m totally conscious of how I present up to others; however I typically exit of my means to try to appease a number of personalities at one time. I attempt to toggle between the 2; generally it really works, and generally it doesn’t.

It’s most impactful to equally develop each subtypes of consciousness, quite than over-indexing on one or the opposite. An analysis from Gallup confirmed individuals who possess a excessive stage of self-awareness are typically confirmed to be good leaders in a plethora of environments, as a result of they deliberately search out stability and inter-and intra-personal abilities. Which leads me to my subsequent suggestion—lead with why.

Dig deep into your why

One of many ways I’ve recognized a few of my self-awareness gaps is thru self-reflection. The method would possibly look completely different for everybody. Setting apart time for journaling has been useful for me, however self-reflection may be meditating, cognitive remedy, or simply 5 minutes of uninterrupted, centered considering time.

I imagine one of many greatest errors all of us make as people is that we observe issues about ourselves—however we don’t trouble to ask ourselves why. Why did I react to my coworker that means? Why is it that round sure folks, I don’t really feel any inhibition, and others I really feel extremely tense? Dedicate the time to determine why you progress the way in which you progress.  Ask your self why you responded the way in which you probably did—and in the event you had the chance, would you do it the identical means, or would you deal with it otherwise?

Self-reflection is a self-discipline, similar to in the event you have been coaching for a marathon or in the event you have been getting ready for a huge assembly. Nonetheless in the event you select to mirror, the purpose is to guarantee you’re doing so deliberately. And bear in mind to dig deep into the why—this will likely be extremely helpful to assist you to become extra aware of who you’re, how you progress via life, and how one can extra successfully lead others.

Uncover different folks’s why—and assist them develop within the course of

Engaged on my self-awareness has made me extra delicate as a leader to acknowledge how different folks present up within the office. Being your genuine self is so vital to discovering happiness and achievement at work.

I bear in mind working with a teammate a number of years in the past who at all times appeared to give off a nervous air after they have been presenting in entrance of others. Regardless that different workers would gown casually, this worker would put on gown garments daily. Once they would speak, they’d tug at their garments or fidget with their collar, which made them appear uncomfortable and uncertain of themselves. Someday, I pulled this particular person apart to speak privately, and requested them in the event that they bought nervous when talking publicly. It shocked me to discover out that they actually loved it. The rationale they appeared so uncomfortable? They have been bodily uncomfortable! They have been dressed formally in the course of summer time in Texas.

I requested why they felt the necessity to gown up—they usually shared that at their prior job, despite the fact that their office mentioned there was a informal gown code, there was an unwritten rule that informal nonetheless meant dressing very polished and upscale. And in the event you didn’t, you have been judged. I requested what they’d really feel extra comfy carrying in the event that they didn’t really feel there was an unwritten rule, and guaranteed them they might put on simply that. From then on, their complete demeanor modified. If I hadn’t requested these follow-up questions, I’d have made the idea that this particular person doesn’t like public talking and has nervous vitality in entrance of crowds, when that wasn’t the case in any respect.

Whether or not you’re analyzing your self otherwise you’re making an attempt to better perceive one among your workforce members, be ready to ask this query: “Who am I and why” or, “Who’re they and why” 1,000 occasions over. Be ready to not have the opportunity to reply that query on some events, and be comfy together with your reply, or the worker’s reply, altering or evolving on a regular basis.

The journey to changing into self-aware is just like the music that by no means ends. Similar to there may be by no means an endpoint to studying and rising, there may be by no means an endpoint to self-awareness. So long as you’re uncovered to completely different moments, folks, and interactions, your self-awareness will proceed to evolve.

Morgan Cole is a senior coach on the educational and growth workforce at actual property platform Opendoor.