Great leaders possess many skills: strong communication, empathy, tenacity, the list can go on and on. But, great leadership starts with self-awareness. Unfortunately, it’s a skill in short supply. In a worldwide study of 17,000 individuals, only 19 percent of women and 4 percent of men were found to be self-aware.


What does being self-aware as a leader mean? A self-aware leader is one who knows where their natural tendencies lie and can use that knowledge to either offset those tendencies or boost them. People who are self-aware know their strengths and their weaknesses and have a firm understanding of their emotions.


Research shows that having employees with high-levels of self-awareness results in businesses having stronger financial performance. Self-aware leaders are able to lead with a sense of purpose and authenticity and can establish stronger trust with the people they lead.


To become more self-aware, and therefore a better leader, start by examining your surroundings. What factors, positive and negative, influence how others treat you? Find the reasoning behind your behaviors. Why are you acting in that way? How are people responding to you?


Another way to increase your self-awareness is to ask for feedback. Talk to those around you about how you make them feel. Gathering feedback will help you to be more empathetic and understand how your behaviors affect others. By receiving feedback, you can learn about your blind spots, behaviors you have you either don’t understand or don’t realize how they affect others and learn how to correct them.


In addition to asking employees for feedback, rely on your friends and family as well. If you have behaviors you know you’d like to work on or change, tell your friends to point it out when you do it. Ask your friends for honest, constructive criticism. It may be hurtful at first, but it will pay off in the long-run.


Never stop learning about yourself. Stay curious about your behaviors and always try to understand what makes you who you are. Becoming more self-aware will assist you not just in the business world, but in your personal life as well.


Becoming more self-aware is not something that will happen overnight, and it’s not something that has an end goal. There are always steps to take to become more and more self-aware, and while you can improve, no one will ever be perfect.


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