The importance of self-aware leadership - Leadership Development Blog | The Mindful Leader

At a time when effective leadership is no longer about grinding employees down to the bone to increase output, self-aware leadership has become a prized quality among corporate leaders in the 21st Century. 

In today’s context of empowerment, intuitive HR management, and worker wellbeing, self-aware leadership is a quality that allows managers or any kind of leader to understand who they are, their innate responses to certain events and stimuli, their stressors, challenges and strengths.

While this can only be cultivated by engaging with yourself in a deep and meaningful manner, here are a few reasons why any leader needs to undertake this journey of cultivating self-aware leadership.

Self-aware leaders don’t react – they respond

When you truly understand yourself, it’s easier for you to sort out your biases, beliefs, and prejudices when you’re confronted with a difficult situation.

If you aren’t aware of what you struggle with, you will only react to every situation, instead of responding. Reacting means that you allow the situation to dominate how you handle it; responding is when you take a step back, assess the facts, and make a rational and intelligent decision on how to proceed.

If you are able to control your reaction and make decisions based on common utility, it’s easier for you to make more impactful decisions for your company – those that help you grow and evolve over time.

You’re able to manage employees intuitively and sensitively

Self-aware leadership also allows you to personalise how you manage your team members and harness their skills and knowledge.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy and common to adopt a cookie-cutter approach to team and personnel management and this is a big mistake; especially at a time when employees want to be treated on their own terms. 

By being self-aware, you’re able to look beyond yourself and understand the way your teams are wired. This makes it easier for you to understand what you need to say or do to get the performance you expect while making sure your employees are happy and feel like they’re taken care of. 

If you’re keen on going a step further, you can always employ a range of self-awareness tools – some of which are psychometric and are based on DNA behaviour – to dig deeper into understanding yourself and your employees.

Being self-aware helps you manage your stress more effectively

Another benefit of self-aware leadership is its ability to help you manage your stress more effectively. 

By using mindful practices that not only help you overcome absentmindedness in the workplace and deal with your reality with 100% focus, you can also detach yourself from negative thoughts, emotions and phantom problems that don’t exist yet.

Mindfulness requires you to pull yourself out of your head and tune into your surroundings or on the physical bodily sensations you’re experiencing. It also teaches you to accept your emotions or responses to the outside world non-judgmentally, which helps you develop a more tolerant and resilient attitude.

Ultimately, tuning into yourself and to other people allows you to understand yourself and accept what happens around you with less resistance. 

Moreover, being self-aware also means you understand what challenges you face and what you’re not adept at dealing with – this helps you proactively develop strategies that help you curb your stress more effectively.

Self-awareness allows you to make firm, sound, and unbiased decisions

One of the greatest gifts of self-aware leadership is the ability to make decisions without second-guessing yourself. 

As a leader in the corporate environment, you’re constantly going to face situations where people try to influence the decisions you make or situations where your personal values or feelings are involved.

By being self-aware, you will intuitively understand what’s relevant to your decision-making process and what’s not.

Leverage self-aware leadership for more effective decision-making in the workplace

Being self-aware is not an overnight process – in fact, it’s a journey that takes years and in all likelihood, will extend across your lifetime. 
Mindfulness is an incredibly useful tactic, in this regard, allowing you to enjoy a deeper understanding of yourself by focusing your consciousness on your present reality.

For more resources on mindful living, explore Michael Bunting’s publications on how to enjoy mindful and self-aware leadership.