Self-Awareness in Leadership and Life

Do you see yourself as others see you?

In life, self-awareness has an impact on many aspects of our relationships. In leadership, it is mission-critical. Relative to other species, self-awareness gives us a unique place in the eco-system, but also a serious responsibility.

In their book, “Willpower,” Roy Baumeister and John Tierney describe self-awareness as “… a most peculiar trait among animals. Dogs will bark angrily at a mirror because they don’t realize they’re looking at themselves, and most other animals are similarly clueless.” They go on to explain that even human babies don’t recognize their own physical presence at first and that they will repeatedly fail the “mirror test” until they are about two years old.

From a very young age, though, we humans recognize our consciousness. We contemplate how others perceive us and we experience empathy. Self-awareness, however, is more than just the knowledge of our own presence, behaviors, and thoughts. Through introspection and feedback, we can fine tune our self-awareness and make adjustments so that our interactions with others are more meaningful, and more accurately reflect our true intentions.

Self-awareness is an important leadership trait that needs to be evolved more proactively inside organizations at all levels, starting with the CEO and working its way to entry-level employees. Applying self-knowledge can help drive intentional actions so that we are successful leaders, whether we are leading an organization of 5000 people, a team of 10, or even simply leading ourselves along a career path or toward a specific goal.

The same principles apply outside of work. Regardless of how you approach it, professionally or personally, this heightened self-awareness will lead you to more insightful, dynamic and deliberate thinking and actions.

So, let’s all embrace looking in the mirror and being in the inquiry of who we really are!