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3 Tips for Improving Self-Awareness as a Leader


Self-awareness is a core capability for a leader. A leader who lacks it may struggle and the reasons why may be elusive. Having self-awareness means you:

  • Understand your own personality or character and your own strengths and shortcomings.
  • Are aware of how others might perceive you.

To be successful, leaders must introspectively assess how they make decisions, give direction and interact with a group. When leaders are self-aware they reach a perfect balance between capitalizing on their strengths and finding support in others to bolster their shortcomings -- and to develop those shortcomings into assets. As a result of that balance, those who they lead will respect and have faith in their leader.

Here are three tips for developing self-awareness:

  1. Take a look in the mirror. As if looking into a mirror, a self-aware leader has a solid understanding of how their people and their organization see them and how they will react to their actions or decisions. While no one can predict the future, having self-awareness means a leader will be able to predict with some accuracy the impact they have on their people, and what the fallout of their actions will be. As such, they can avoid rocking the boat in negative ways and invest energy in generating positive reactions to their actions and positive outcomes from their decisions. Additionally, a self-aware leader will recognize the balance point between avoiding stepping on toes and getting things done.
  2. Play to your strengths and support your shortcomings. No one can be an expert in everything. A self-aware leader has developed an understanding of where they excel and where they fall short. A self-aware leader can find balance in this identification rather than being handicapped by either too much confidence in their abilities or lack of confidence in their shortcomings. Rather, a self-aware leader is confident in their assets, and confident enough to ask for support for their shortcomings. Additionally, a self-aware leader can identify the strengths and shortcomings of those around them. By taking charge in areas that they excel, self-aware leaders inspire confidence in others. By leaning on others in areas where they fall short, self-aware leaders empower their people and garner their trust.
  3. Get over it and fix it. Not everyone is going to like you. With a million personality types out there, no single person can be liked by everyone. A self-aware leader knows where the sharp points of their personality lie and will take steps to soften their more abrasive personality characteristics. Further, a self-aware leader will hone in on skills that aide in identifying with their people such as empathy and introspection. As in each step above, a self-aware leader seeks the perfect balance between being liked and being effective.

Clare Gallaher is a consultant with Corner Alliancewhich helps government leaders solve their most pressing problems.  Her specialty areas include stakeholder engagement, public safety and broadband communications, business management, international security and Homeland Security Department policy. Follow Corner Alliance on Twitter here.

(Image via fantom_rd/

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