OK, You’re a Leader. Why Would Self-Awareness Even Matter?

effective leadership emotional intelligence human behavior leadership self aware leader self awareness self awareness in leadership self leadership Jan 05, 2022
Self Awareness in Leadership

Not long ago, Cindy and I were looking through options for using an Audible credit when we stumbled onto something new from John Maxwell. Having read (or listened to) just about everything John’s put out over the last twenty years, we were a bit surprised that we hadn’t heard of The Self-Aware Leader with a release date of October 5, 2021. Since the Live2Lead he holds annually (and we’ve hosted locally since 2015) is typically in early October, we felt like there would have been more build up around a new book. Regardless, the topic was something we had already been digging into so using the credit on that was an easy decision!

Turns out that this “new” book pulled pieces of content relevant to the self-awareness idea from a few of his other books and added some of John’s insight tied to other more recent issues to tie it all together under a unique title. This seems to be fairly common in the book world - like with the Lencioni book I referenced recently that had two different titles - but John’s written so much over the years that his publishers should never have an issue piecing stuff together then adding fresh cover art… All said, it was really good and I’ll reference a few things from that here as we move forward. But we’ll also be digging into just how important self-awareness really is - even if you’ve already got a good bit of authority that’s so often referred to as being a leader.

Over the last few years in our Leading At The Next Level program, I’ve shared a few lessons breaking down the idea of emotional intelligence so that it can be applied both personally and within an organization. From time to time, Cindy and I share another lesson called Creating an Emotionally Intelligent Culture that Impacts Your Organization’s Bottom Line, which we originally put together for our Executive Leadership Elite Think Tank group, as a complimentary webinar. If you’re familiar with any of those lessons, you’ll likely remember me sharing a quote from Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, when he defined what he suggests to be the first component of emotional intelligence; “Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations.”

When we get down to it, I believe self-awareness plays a tremendous role in how we lead the people around - regardless of any positional authority we may or may not have in our current role. That said, Bradberry’s comment that “only 36% of the people they tested were able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen” is a bit of cause for concern. If just over a third of us truly can identify our emotions in real time, that tells me that self-awareness may need some attention when it comes to developing strong leaders who make a position impact on the teams they’re responsible for! And that may be why the first chapter of John’s newest book is titled “Become Good at Leading Yourself”...

Moving forward here, we’ll dig into why self-awareness matters so much in leadership and we’ll work through some skills we should each work to develop as well as some strategies we can use for doing that. Until then, I’ll share the one tool I’ve found to be the most powerful and applicable for developing a foundation of self-awareness; a scientifically validated DISC assessment. Not all DISC assessments are created equal, and even the most accurate need to provide information we can actually understand and use. We offer several great options but I’m always happy to have a conversation with someone about which one is best for their needs and to help them digest the results so don’t hesitate to reach out if that’s something you would get value from!