The importance of leadership self-awareness

It goes without saying that how you act affects how others perceive and judge you, and it is no different when you’re a leader, no matter how high up the organisational ladder you are.

Self-awareness is a key attribute for effective and successful leaders – being aware of how you behave and how it can impact not just the people around you, but also your organisation as a whole.

Self-awareness in leadership

An effective leader should use self-awareness to better understand their personalities and habits and have the ability to reflect on their actions and words. How you are perceived by others within an organisation is key, so being able to understand your personality traits and how you behave accordingly, will enable you to lead teams and the organisation effectively, as well as support your own personal growth.

Why is self-awareness important?

There are many qualities that make a great leader, but self-awareness is one of the most important.

Having good self-awareness can help you:

  • make better choices – by managing your own behaviour and relationships and compensating for any natural traits can help you make better decisions.
  • better understand what you bring to an organisation – by knowing your skills and capabilities within your industry, as well as understanding your own characteristics, will help improve not only your own performance, but that of the rest of the organisation.
  • boost company performance – effective leaders that are more self-aware tend to make decisions that have a positive impact on the future growth of a business.
  • be realistic about expectations – Being a self-aware leader will help you inspire your teams to work toward growth and meet common goals.


Improving your self-awareness

Here are 5 ways to help you become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Get to know you – have the ability to understand your personality and look for patterns in your behaviour. Utilising emotional intelligence will also help identify how your emotions impact others.
  2. Consider reactions – how people react to you is important. Considering how they react will enable you to better understand your impact on others. Also be aware of how you react to people and whether it’s likely to have a positive or negative impact on others.
  3. Get feedback – asking for input on how you behave will enable you to form a better view of your impact on others and provide insight on how you can improve. Many leaders choose to regularly undertake a structured 360-degree feedback exercise, much like the one we include within our CMI Level 7 Strategic leadership It’s good to really understand how your leadership is received.
  4. Adapt to different settings – be able to adapt your traits to different situations. Being empathetic will be needed in some cases, whereas in others you may need to be firm.
  5. Reflection – always think back to how you acted in certain situations and think how you could have reacted or dealt with them differently.

Self-awareness as a leader is important, effective leaders, however, should also be reflective, observant, empathetic, perceptive, responsive, humble, have self-control, be discerning, as well as adaptable. By having all these qualities you are well on your way to becoming a well-rounded, trusted, personable and effective leader.


Interested in developing your self-awareness? We are now recruiting for our September intake for Management & Leadership and Strategic Leadership development programmes. For more information, click here, or contact a member of the team for more details at

We always learn more on stormy seas than ever we do sailing in calm waters.

Sir George Buckley

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