Spark Growth: Developing Self-Awareness as a Leader

When you think of the qualities inherent in a great leader, you likely think of traits like integrity, communication, and the ability to manage others. Though many leaders are great managers and professional coaches, large numbers of them struggle with self-awareness. Oftentimes, they are so absorbed with running businesses and guiding others, they seldom stop to think about the impact of their words or actions.

Self-awareness is a quality that will bring out the best in you and those with whom you work. It can enhance our reasoning and our thinking, as well as improve our interpersonal skills for better relationship outcomes. A new year is only a few short weeks away. Commit to great introspection by following these self-awareness tactics.

Ask for regular feedback.

Depending on the type of culture you’re working in, leaders may struggle with giving candid, transparent feedback. If you can’t garner a 100% honest evaluation of your performance in conversation, ask for regular anonymous surveys.

Watch your team.

Your team is, in many ways, a reflection of your own leadership. Is your team afraid of admitting failures? Do they avoid revealing bad performance? If so, you may be more of a boss than a leader.

Does your team mutually coach each other? Do they celebrate everyone’s successes? If so, you likely foster a team-first mentality.

You should also observe the way your team reacts in your presence. Do people stop talking when you enter the room? Do they appear nervous when they talk to you? If so, it may be a sign you need to shift your image—and attitude.

Make predictions for your actions.

If you need to make an important leadership decision—maybe it’s to promote that up-and-coming professional or invest in building a new branch—write down all of the reasons you’re committing to that decision. Predict what the outcome will be 12 months down the road. Fill up a notebook with these predictions, then go back regularly and see how reality aligns with your forecasts. Over time, you’ll learn to better predict the outcome of your actions.

Write it out.

While we’re on the topic of writing, journaling is another great way to reflect upon your actions and thoughts. Because the physical act of writing forces you to think—and think slowly—you may better analyze your on-the-job sense of awareness. Dedicate the last 10 minutes of every day to reflect on your actions.

Take personality assessments.

Though you may already know your personality type, there’s a good reason for taking these profile tests regularly: They force you to evaluate your thought processes and actions. Consider taking a new one every 12 months to evaluate your progress and track growth.

Good self-examination takes work, but it’s work worth doing. By taking the time to practice these exercises, you’ll spark personal growth and introspection that can transform you into a better leader.