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Clarity Institute / Insights

Self-awareness tips for today’s leaders

Date: 01.09.2023

Category: Insights

By: Dr. Isabel Bilotta

Mindfulness is certainly a popular word within leadership development right now. But what does it really mean to be a mindful leader?   

Mindful leaders are highly emotionally intelligent and emotionally agile. Emotional intelligence comes down to our ability to manage and understand our own and others’ emotions. This skill accounts for nearly 90% of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills.   

Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management are four key components of emotional intelligence. Each component plays an essential role in our ability to understand and manage our own emotions and connect with others in meaningful ways. By developing these skills, we can improve our performance and well-being in the workplace and in life.  

Of these four components, let's dig into self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions, as well as how our emotions impact our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions. It is also a cornerstone of effective leadership – it predicts leader emergence and leader effectiveness. It requires an accurate self-perception, necessitating humility and honesty about how one’s emotional and personality tendencies influence behaviors.  

When we are self-aware, we are better able to regulate our emotions and respond to situations in a more thoughtful and intentional way. Self-awareness is also essential for personal growth and development, as it allows us to identify areas where we can improve and build on our strengths.  

Daniel Goleman, an emotional intelligence researcher, and best-selling author, found that among self-aware leaders, 92% had teams with elevated energy and performance. Emotionally self-aware leaders foster a positive emotional climate, which inspires greater motivation and effort. Conversely, leaders lacking emotional self-awareness fostered negative climates 78% of the time resulting in poorer performance outcomes.  

Here are some tips to develop self-awareness as a leader:  

Reflect on your experiences: Take time to reflect on your past experiences and what you have learned from them. Analyze your successes and failures and identify patterns in your behavior and decision-making.  

Seek feedback: Ask for honest feedback from your peers, mentors, and team members. Listen carefully to their insights and perspectives and be open to constructive criticism.  

Assess your values: Clarify your core values and principles and assess how they align with your actions and decisions, and more importantly, the company you lead. Identify any inconsistencies and work to align your behavior with your values.  

Practice active listening: Listen attentively to others without interrupting or judging. Practice active listening skills such as summarizing and paraphrasing to ensure you understand their perspective.  

Isabel Bilotta, Ph.D., our Head of Learning and Innovation, has developed mindful leader workshops and retreats through our Deutser Clarity Institute. These workshops focus on developing self-awareness and emotional agility as well as leveraging the benefits of stress, battling burnout on your team, and creating a mindful culture. Providing practical exercises and takeaways are top priorities in our workshops. Our daily reflection exercise takes less than one minute and helps increase your self-awareness and heighten your mindfulness. At the end of the day, ask yourself these three questions:   

What’s one thing I did well today?  

What’s one change I want to make tomorrow?  

If I were to paint the picture of an ideal day tomorrow, what would that look like?  

By developing self-awareness as a leader, you build your emotional intelligence and can become more effective in your role while building stronger relationships with your team and stakeholders. Follow us on LinkedIn for more of our research and leadership exercises created at Deutser. If you or your team is interested in learning more about our workshops, please reach out.