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By: Indeed Editorial Team

Leaders need to be conscious of how their behaviors impact those they lead. Self-awareness in leadership is an important trait for a leader to cultivate. To become a more effective leader, you need the tools to reflect on how your unique characteristics affect the goals of your organization and those you lead.

What is self-awareness in leadership?

Self-awareness in leadership is an understanding of how your personality traits, habits and abilities affect your interactions with the people around you, particularly in the workplace. Leaders who are self-aware actively reflect on how their words and actions are perceived by others and work to change any of their own shortcomings so they can lead their peers more effectively. Self-awareness leads to personal control and growth that helps leaders use their strengths to guide teams to the best possible outcomes.

Why is self-awareness in leadership important?

Self-awareness is said to be the most important quality for a good leader. Self-awareness is important in leadership for the following reasons:

  • Self-awareness helps leaders make better choices. Effective leaders use self-awareness to manage their own behavior and relationships. Leaders need to develop self-knowledge to better compensate for their natural tendencies and abilities as they make decisions in the workplace.
  • Self-awareness can impact a company’s finances. Better-performing companies tend to have more self-aware leaders. These leaders make better decisions and are mindful of how their leadership impacts future outcomes for the company.
  • Self-awareness helps leaders understand what they bring to their role. Understanding their strengths in both industry skills and knowledge as well as personal characteristics allows a leader to better perform their responsibilities within an organization.
  • Self-awareness allows leaders to be realistic in their expectations. Part of leadership is inspiring a team to work toward growth and to meet goals. Self-aware leaders know how to balance what they want their team to accomplish with the creative vision they bring to the group.

Characteristics of self-awareness in leadership

Self-aware leaders are:

  • Reflective: A large part of self-awareness comes from reflecting on your own thoughts, words and actions as you communicate with others.
  • Observant: Self-aware leaders pay attention to what’s happening around them by following cues from their environment.
  • Empathetic: Understanding the needs of others helps self-aware leaders relate to those they lead.
  • Perceptive: Anticipating the outcome of a situation is another important trait of self-aware leadership.
  • Responsive: Leaders who are self-aware are active listeners. They can adapt based on the reaction of others.
  • Humble: Self-aware leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and work to correct any shortcomings that can get in the way of their leadership.
  • Self-controlled: Leaders who are self-aware have the ability to manage their own words and actions.
  • Discerning: Self-awareness comes from making wise choices about how you will handle a situation.
  • Adaptable: Self-aware leaders assess a situation and respond by changing their behaviors.

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