How Can Self-Awareness Help Leaders Succeed?

How Can Self-Awareness Help Leaders Succeed?

Talyaa Vardar, MA, FCPC, MCC
Talyaa Vardar, MA, FCPC, MCC
Executive Coach, Psychologist & Art Therapist

Is Self-Awareness a leadership practice? According to science, yes. Leaders with self-awareness habits have more resilience than others who don’t. Studies on leadership shows us that leaders with self-awareness are evaluated as more respected and inspirational leaders by their followers than others.

Having a self-check regularly is a practice that is applied by authentic leaders and many others. In our survey with workplace leaders, 50% of executives who are rated as having high self-awareness by their organization through engagement surveys stated that they have an executive coach.

With a good self-awareness habit, leaders are able to work out their strengths and shortfalls, and only by being aware of them, they can overcome their weak points by making use of their strong points.

If one is not aware of oneself it can lead to lots of trial and error based on what they can and what they can’t do. But not everybody has the luxury of making mistakes and learning through them, therefore, it’s very important to know one’s capabilities especially when there is a lot at stake such as time, money, and resources.

As we grow into professionals and leaders, understanding our capabilities, strengths and areas of improvement is essential for long lasting success and perhaps the most vital leadership skill.

What Is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness begins with paying attention to own thoughts, emotions and feelings. It is related to emotional intelligence which stems from honest self-thought. Self-awareness is monitoring the way we act and think and be aware of our internal voice. One must be willing to dwell deep and learn about oneself.

Once we understand our inner world, we make peace with ourselves along with our thoughts, behavior and actions. We are then able to consciously work towards the betterment of our life experiences.

How Can You Increase Your Self-Awareness?

  1. Ironically one of the best ways to heighten self-awareness is to practice keen listening to others. When you listen to others you get into the same frequency as them and understand their emotions and body language. Once you master listening to others it can help you to listen to your inner self as well.
  2. Another way is to open your mind to new perspectives. When you view situations and your surroundings from another perspective it can be refreshing to see how other people view things differently. It makes you ask for and accept other people’s honest opinions.
  3. Most executive coaches would agree that 360-degree feedback on a client is extremely useful during the coaching process as it will help them to recognize their areas of improvement and get a big picture leading to better self-awareness.
  4. Maintaining a journal is also a good way to increase self-awareness as It can help identify what triggers certain behaviors and emotions. It gives an opportunity to reflect on certain habits and actions.
  5. Most people find creating some “me-time” everyday use in creating better self-awareness. Spending time alone can give us a chance to know ourselves without the distraction of technology or other people. It can be a good way to connect with the inner you.

How Does Self-Awareness Make Leaders More Effective?

Most definitely self-aware leaders perform better than leaders who are not connected with their inner self. You must have heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect where people think they are better than they actually are. Sometimes people have inflated beliefs about themselves which results from ignorance of one’s limitations.

Self-aware leaders are in touch with not only their inner self but also have a better understanding of the situation as they have high empathy. Self-awareness plays a big role in the performance of the leader as he works on getting not only the best out of him but also from the team.

Teams that are led by self-aware leaders are less likely to be affected by internal team tussle as a leader who is self-aware also promotes the benefits and understanding of self-awareness to others as well.

For example, Authentic Leadership is a leadership practice where the leader values self-awareness and has a regular habit of self-reflection. Engagement surveys in workplaces show us that authentic leaders are more respected and trusted in their organization than others with lower self-awareness.

The majority of authentic leaders have a mentor or a coach, helping them to mirror their impact in the organization. From Bill Gates to Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt, leaders with self-awareness agree that everyone-including the CEO- needs a coach.


Executive coaching focuses on working with leaders to help them fulfill their greatest potential as effective leadership is much more than just industry experience and the basic set of skills. Executive coaching is all about focusing on strengths, understanding areas of growth and improvement, and working on developing skills for overall excellence.

A self-aware person doesn’t make assumptions that other people will read his mind and team members will know how to handle the obstacles instead he identifies the factors for conflicts earlier on and addresses them.

If you are interested in becoming a professional coach yourself, or interested to know how professional coaching can help you get in touch with us at

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