Elevating Leadership Through Self-Awareness: The Power of Relationships and Reflection

Self-Awareness
4 min read

Leadership is about relationships. There will never be a point in time when the subject of relationships is not an active part of your leadership profile, for everything you perceive, notice, and know is because of your relationships with others. A leader who understands themselves, and how their behaviors affect others, can have a profoundly positive impact on their team and organization.

Therefore, self-awareness is not just an asset—it is essential. Self-awareness influences a leader’s perspectives, personal growth, ability to understand and connect with others, communication, and decision-making. But how exactly can self-awareness improve relationships and how do leaders achieve it? Let’s dive in!

1. Expanding Perspectives & Enhancing Empathy

Self-awareness allows leaders to see beyond their own viewpoints, fostering a broader and more inclusive perspective. When leaders are in tune with their own biases and preconceptions, they can better appreciate and understand the diverse perspectives of others. This understanding of others and empathy is crucial for effective leadership.

For example, a leader who recognizes their tendency to favor certain approaches over others can consciously make an effort to seek out and consider alternative viewpoints. This practice not only enriches the decision-making process but also creates an environment where team members feel valued and heard. By understanding themselves, leaders can bridge gaps in communication and build stronger, more cohesive teams.

Using science-backed behavioral assessments is a reliable method to understand one’s strengths and stress behaviors, as well as how one’s behaviors affect others. Harrison Assessments’ reports provide a deep dive into the behaviors that make leaders, and their relationships with others, successful. The Harrison Paradox Technology accurately determines whether a leader’s strong behavioral traits are genuine strengths or costly derailers, a crucial consideration most traditional personality assessments fail to make. This essential understanding of leadership behaviors and stress responses can make or break relationships, hindering achievements within the organization.

2. Fueling Personal Growth and Development

The journey of self-awareness is also intrinsically linked to personal and professional growth. Research from HBR suggests that only about 15% of people are sufficiently self-aware and that there is less than a 30% correlation between people’s actual and self-perceived competence. The same research details that a leader’s lack of self-awareness negatively impacts decision making, collaboration, and conflict management. So how do we fix this?

One way to proactively seek opportunities for growth is to have clarity about one’s strengths and leverage them effectively, while addressing one’s development opportunities through learning and application. This commitment to personal growth not only enhances individual self-awareness but also sets a powerful example for the team, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and resilience.

Leaders who invest time and focus in self-reflection gain valuable insights into their strengths as well as areas for improvement. This awareness drives continuous development and adaptability, contributing to both personal and organizational success. By demonstrating a dedication to growth, leaders can inspire their teams to seek and embrace a mindset of ongoing learning and improvement.

3. Enhancing Communication Skills

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful leadership; self-awareness significantly enhances this ability. Leaders who understand their own emotions, body language, and tone of voice can communicate more clearly and authentically.

Self-aware leaders are mindful of the impact their words and actions have on others. They communicate with empathy and clarity, building trust and rapport within their teams. This level of communication fosters an open and collaborative work environment where relationships reflect a healthy openness. Team members feel comfortable openly sharing ideas and feedback.

Moreover, self-aware leaders excel in active listening. They prioritize understanding over responding, creating a space where team members feel genuinely heard and valued. The leaders’ communication style becomes a model for others to emulate. This not only strengthens team dynamics but also enhances overall productivity and innovation.

4. Guiding Better Decision-Making

Decision-making is a critical aspect of leadership, and self-awareness plays a pivotal role in enhancing this process. Leaders who understand their values, motivations, and biases are better equipped to make informed and balanced decisions. Self-aware leaders understand that leadership is about relationships; they approach decision-making with a clear sense of their priorities and principles. They are also less likely to be swayed by external pressures or impulsive emotions, allowing them to make decisions that align with their core values and long-term goals. This alignment ensures consistency and integrity in their leadership.

Furthermore, self-aware leaders take a reflective and analytical approach to decision-making. They consider all relevant information, and weigh the potential difficulties and outcomes, while anticipating the impact of their decisions on their team and organization. This thoughtful approach leads to more effective and sustainable outcomes.

Ultimately, self-awareness is a fundamental quality that elevates leadership to new heights. The journey of self-awareness is continuous and ever evolving, and its rewards are profound. Leaders who embrace self-awareness, taking time to look within, not only transform their own leadership but also inspire and elevate those around them. Investing in self-understanding creates a positive ripple effect that fosters a culture of empathy, growth, healthy relationships, and excellence within the organization. Leadership and self-awareness are deeply intertwined with relationships, as the insights gained from self-reflection enhance interactions and build stronger, more authentic connections. As leaders embark on this journey, they unlock their and others’ full potential, paving pave the way for a more inclusive, dynamic, connected, and effective leadership approach.

Stay tuned for more insights and tips on leadership development in future blog posts. Until next time, keep leading with purpose and passion!


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Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.