5 Tips for Leaders to Increase Self-Awareness

Have you ever worked with an individual who was nearly unbearable to communicate or collaborate with? What about someone who had an off-putting habit like talking with their mouths full or swaying back and forth while leading a presentation?

It is likely that the person you are thinking of is not very self-aware.

Without the ability to honestly assess themselves — their attitudes, communication styles, leadership skills, how they give and receive feedback, their reactions, body language, etc. leaders can seem arrogant, rude, and aloof to how they appear to others.

The problem here is that without self-awareness, there is no chance these individuals will develop the interpersonal skills and relationships necessary to convince others to trust them as a person, and certainly not their leadership in a professional capacity.

Not only can these gaps in management skills affect the leader’s ability to influence the people under their guidance, but they can have a detrimental impact on the office culture as a whole.

On the flip-side, leaders with high self-awareness are shown to be more adaptable, empathetic, effective communicators, emotionally intelligent, poised, trustworthy, and confident.

Here are a few practical ways you can work on becoming more self-aware.

Know Your Strengths, but Really Know Your Weaknesses

Professionals who are self-aware are well-acquainted with their strengths and comfortable identifying their weaknesses. They are not afraid to delegate and reach out for help in areas that do not align with their strong suits. Take some time to reflect on what aspects of your role you are excelling in and those that you might need to work on. Be prepared, this will take some humility

Learn Your Limits

If you constantly feel stressed out, exhausted, or short-fused, it might be that you are overworking yourself. What boundaries have you set in place? Have you learned how to say “no” when your plate is full? Remember that you are only human, and being good at your job does not mean working yourself into the ground. In fact, you might just realize you are better at your job after you set firm boundaries that protect your headspace.

Maybe you find yourself like Stephen in Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, “Necessary Endings.”  Maybe the very thing you need to make your work better is to take a step back and let yourself think and feel

Make Space for Your Emotions

Many people assume that being “professional” means you can’t get emotional at work. While it’s true that you shouldn’t pound your fists in rage in the conference room or let the waterworks flow at work on a regular basis, it’s important that you don’t suppress or deny your emotions altogether. If something happens at work that upsets you, it’s important to acknowledge internally how it made you feel while keeping a professional demeanor until you are in a personal setting where you can fully process the situation. This takes a great amount of discipline, but it will build tremendous respect from your peers, and allow you the time to practically decide how you would like to address the situation instead of reacting in the heat of the moment.

Perform Daily Self-Reflection

This can be a quick check-in at the end of each workday. If you know you need to improve in a certain area, try keeping a journal where you can reflect on your behavior and reactions from that day while they are fresh on your mind. This is a great tool for tracking progress and staying aware of how you are portraying yourself day-to-day.

Ask Others for Feedback

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask others for feedback! When you’re having one-on-ones with your peers or subordinates, try asking them questions like:

  • What are some ways I could improve my performance?
  • How could I better support you in your role?
  • How would you describe my teamwork and leadership skills?

Asking for feedback is a great way to get other peoples’ points of view and it will also show your team that you care about the work environment you create in the office.


About Dr. Wilkerson, PD, MBA, PCC.

Do you want to increase your impact? Do you want to increase profits under your leadership? Do you want to develop and use your abilities to the fullest to better connect with and lead others? Executive Leadership Coaching covers these bases. Dr. Jerrund Wilkerson, PD, MBA, PCC, has more than 30 years of successful executive leadership coaching in the United States and internationally.

As a licensed pharmacist, he is particularly passionate about helping develop effective leaders in the healthcare community. Dr. Wilkerson has coached and trained thousands of managers and leaders. He is a certified coach and member of the John Maxwell Leadership Team.

CLICK HERE to learn more.