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All successful organizations have self-aware leaders. It is that one quality that distinguishes strong leadership from its weaker counterparts. Being able to monitor one’s emotions and actions can help a leader build better relationships with coworkers and steer their companies towards growth. From communicating clearly to establishing boundaries, there are various ways in which leaders can be more self-aware.

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness is the state of controlling your emotions and reactions. It means being cognizant of your strengths, weaknesses, motivators, and triggers and managing them diligently in the work environment. Leaders who are self-aware are more efficient as individuals and as team players. This helps them to be better managers, teammates, and strategists.

Just as observing others’ behavioral tendencies helps you at work, being aware of your tendencies and feelings is vital. When you notice harmful behaviors manifesting in yourself, you can check these tendencies to avoid disruption or malice from spreading in your organization.

What is the role of self-awareness in business and leadership?

When leaders are not aware of themselves, it can be difficult to work with a diverse community of people. If you are not delivering on a project or being disrespectful to someone, you cannot possibly be a good leader. People will not want to work or interact with you, and your business can be badly impacted by that.

The need for self-awareness applies to many other situations. For instance, checking your emotions and feelings is crucial while delivering a sales pitch or responding to negative customer feedback. If you do not exercise control over how you are reacting, there could be far-reaching harmful consequences for you.

In business, self-awareness can be an asset in every sphere. As an example, when you are delivering a presentation, you might feel anxious or stressed about your speech. Self-awareness can be your defense in this situation. If you use a lot of filler words in your speech, practice in front of someone else and have that person clap or nod each time you use a word you want to avoid. If you move around quite a bit while talking, sit on a chair, and practice speaking without getting up. Such techniques will help you get in control of yourself and therefore be more self-aware.

How do you incorporate self-awareness at work?

There are several ways in which you can work on improving your self-awareness level both at work and outside. Let us look at some of these methods.

Self-awareness in knowing yourself

The first step in self-awareness is to know yourself well. Do you have an accurate understanding of who you are as a person? How do you react in difficult situations? What are the triggers and stressors in your life? Can you deal with disappointment rationally?

Always remain curious about yourself and adopt steps to understand and rectify damaging behaviors. Upon receiving criticism at work, ask yourself what you can learn from it. Having an introspective approach toward your professional appearance and conduct can help you learn more about yourself and improve your leadership skills.

Self-awareness in interacting with others

Understanding the behavioral tendencies of people around you can be beneficial in providing them with direction. How people react to their environment can be assessed, especially when any unexpected transition occurs. Ask yourself: how does my team respond in a crisis? What are the strongest factors which drive them? Are they able to overcome their weaknesses and adapt when there is any change?

When you are interacting with your team, tailor your behavior according to everyone else’s behavioral drives and tendencies. This will allow you to check impulsive behavior and make your workers respect you more. Similarly, ask for regular feedback from your colleagues on your management practices, communication strategy, and other actions. Self-awareness can help you become a better leader, but it can also solidify the professional relationships you build with your employees. For professional guidance on this, TalenX provides various resources for managing workforce perception.

Self-awareness in communicating

Both words and body language can play a significant role in influencing people’s perception of you. If your team is working remotely, it may be challenging to communicate in a manner that directly impacts people. But if you keep a check on the tone of your voice while communicating with colleagues, it generally is a good starting place for having an impact on others.

Attempt to be more empathetic to others by deferring judgement and allowing others to fully express their thoughts. Actively listen to your colleagues while speaking to them. Based on the group you are interacting with, be the last person who speaks. The opinions of leaders are usually more heavily weighted than those of the others. Prior to presenting your viewpoints at a discussion, make sure that no one is left out or dissuaded from speaking before or after you.

Tools and processes to improve your self-awareness level

Personality tests and behavior analysis tools can help you recognize your strengths and develop them further. They can also guide you in seeing areas that need your reflection and improvement. Use behavioral information to comprehend how you can manage your qualities and feel motivated to cultivate a greater self-awareness level.

Another way to gather data about yourself is by collecting feedback from colleagues. You can do this by sending surveys to managers and other stakeholders and ask questions that will allow you to gauge how your leadership is perceived by others. Use this feedback to make decisions about improving your behavior. While making decisions, make a note of all the changes you will incorporate into your habits and what difference you expect will happen after a set period of time. Once the time arrives, compare your notes with the actual results that you witness.

Performing self-awareness exercises can greatly help you achieve the level of confidence that would enable you to make good decisions for your organization. You can get help from TalenX in learning more about your leadership personality and how you can work on your self-awareness level. If it helps, you can ask a friend to participate in these exercises with you and help them attain a better level of self-awareness too.

Other tips on improving self-awareness

Self-awareness helps you to be more grounded. It also raises your emotional intelligence level thereby making you more considerate and empathetic. By being honest and transparent about your thoughts, flaws, and strengths, you can vastly solidify relationships in the workplace.

There are several ways in which you can intentionally cultivate a greater level of self-awareness. Here is a list of seven methods:

  • Be aware of what triggers you emotionally: Individuals who are aware of themselves know what activities or behaviors affect them emotionally. Repress expressing strong emotions in the workplace; rather, take some time to calmly process them first, then, communicate your thoughts in a rational manner.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses: Self-aware individuals are familiar with their personal strengths and weaknesses. They know when to utilize their expertise and when they should reach out for assistance to facilitate smooth execution of projects.
  • Have an open mind: When your emotions are in control, you have a greater capacity to listen to others and experience their feelings. Being a successful leader requires you to listen to the different values, experiences, and suggestions that other people bring. This enables your team to be better contributors. Your willingness to hear others’ perspectives will also allow your team to be dedicated and more innovative.
  • Establish boundaries: Being open and asking for feedback does not mean that there will be no rules. A good leader must ensure that boundaries are in place. Remember that the final decision always rests with you, and if there is any disagreement, you shall be the one making the final call. Be cordial and warm to everyone but be ready to say no when you need to. Be strict, if needed, about your expectations so that you can preserve the integrity of your targets and the efforts you invest in meeting them.
  • Practice self-discipline: Maintaining discipline over one’s habits and preferences allow a leader to be more self-aware. It is crucial for any leader to embody discipline so that they can accomplish their goals and others can take inspiration from them.
  • Trust your instincts: Remember to always embrace your intuition. Whenever you make big decisions, consider what your instincts are saying about the associated risks. This will allow you to learn more about what you are doing currently and pragmatically contemplate the next steps. Sharper instincts are another quality of successful leaders who are self-aware.
  • Remain focused: Train your mind and body to concentrate on your goals. Having ideas is an important work component, but having the stamina to work on and successfully execute them requires deep focus. Avoid distractions like email and social media from interrupting you when you are working on essential projects. Take occasional breaks in between your schedule to refresh your mind and concentrate better on tasks.

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